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As we move into these hazy, hot and humid days of summer, many of us will set
out by car or airplane for destinations that promise endless excitement, hours
of unadulterated relaxation and, of course, delicious food.
These vacations can induce stress in the minds of those eating a diet low in
carbohydrates. You may be among those who believe it is impossible to enjoy a
low carb vacation — that the trip will not be as enjoyable if it does not
include bread, potatoes and sugary desserts.
I am here to say that it is possible to continue your meal plan while traveling.
In fact, with the popularity of low carb convenience foods and more restaurants
catering to our needs, it has never been easier or more delectable!
Before Leaving Home
Just one hour of planning before leaving home can save hours of time (more time
at the beach!) and lots of stress. Here's how:
- Take snacks in the car or in a carry-on bag if flying. For that matter, pack
some snacks extra with luggage to munch on while in the hotel, too. Nuts, string
cheese and low carb bars are just a few suggestions. Expensive airport shops do
not have much to offer in the way of low carb snacks. Remember to bring along
bottled water, too.
- If driving, pack a cooler full of your favorite foods. Tuna salad, hard boiled
eggs and delicious strawberries are all easy to bring along.
- Ask the hotel to fax or e-mail a copy of their room service and restaurant menus.
Larger hotels now feature at least a few low carb items on the menu with the best
among them devoting entire sections to low carb fare. If there are little or no
options, ask if the chef will prepare special meals — most are happy to accommodate
the dietary needs of their guests. Knowing what to expect before leaving home will
make hotel living more relaxing.
- Consider staying at a hotel with a kitchenette in the room. These kitchens have all
of the cookware, dishes and utensils needed for meal preparation — some even include
a few staple items such as salt, pepper and spices.
- Request that the hotel have a small empty refrigerator in the room when checking in.
Most hotels do not widely advertise that this amenity is available.
- Locate the nearest grocery store. Having the option to purchase familiar foods in an
unfamiliar place can be comforting.
- Research local restaurants. Many restaurants have their menus online or available by
fax. Call to ask about any items in question and find out if lower carbohydrate
vegetables can be substituted for potatoes, corn and other starches. Pack these menus
to refer to when planning daily events.
Vacationing or not, our resolve to a healthy lifestyle is put to the test every day.
We decide each morning that we will resist these temptations and follow our meal plan.
Why then do so many of us give in to temptation while vacationing? Some think it is
simply more convenient to go off plan while traveling. Others are lured by the attraction
of new and exciting foods to try in their temporary surroundings. While we cannot
eliminate temptation, we can learn to beat it — even away from home.
- The hotel mini-bar is a treasure trove of carbohydrate-filled snacks and beverages.
There are a couple of ways around this trouble spot. Most of these cabinets and
refrigerators have locks with the key given to the guest while checking in. Not accepting
the key is a good way to avoid temptation. Another option is to remove all of the
non-perishable items from the fridge and replace them with lower carb foods purchased
from the local grocery. Be sure to replace what has been removed before checking out
in order to avoid possible charges from the hotel.
- Mother was right: breakfast is important. In addition to helping maintain energy levels
for those long hikes in the forest, eating a healthy low carb breakfast will also help
with feeling more satisfied during the day and improve your concentration level and mood.
Fortunately, ordering a low carb breakfast is a breeze in most any restaurant. Stick with
high protein foods such as eggs and steak or turkey sausage.
- Skipping meals can lead to overwhelming hunger, making it more difficult to resist the
temptation of less-than-healthy foods. However, some people find that they are not as
hungry during the hottest of summer days and keeping to a usual schedule of meals during
vacation activities can be a challenge. During these times, keep non-perishable snacks
- Eating a heavy (even if low carb) meal may create a bloated feeling. More frequent
smaller meals will help keep blood glucose and energy levels more consistent all day.
- Carry a water bottle and stay hydrated. Some studies have shown that water is a
natural appetite suppressant. Most people should drink 64 ounces of water each day,
more for larger people and still more on especially hot days in the sun.
One of the most important ways to beat temptation is to completely avoid "trigger"
foods. These are the foods that cause cravings. You'll want to avoid that Italian
restaurant altogether if you know that resisting pasta and bread will be difficult.
Why a Low Carb Vacation is Better
But why should you avoid temptation and stick with your low carb way of eating while
Many people experience "carb crashes" following meals higher in carbohydrate after
having been on plan for awhile. This means that instead of enjoying all of the local
attractions, you may find yourself back at the hotel fast asleep. Other problems with
a sudden increase in carbohydrates include headaches, diarrhea, feeling bloated and
water retention. If you are diabetic, you may have difficulty controlling your blood
glucose levels, putting you at risk for a variety of complications.
Carbohydrates can have an addictive quality to them. One carb-filled meal leads to
another and then another. Seeing the number on the scale increase can be discouraging,
getting back on plan can be a struggle.
On the other hand, staying on plan while vacationing can be very powerful! Think for
a moment about what it means to maintain your way of eating even in the face of
temptation. You are in control of food, not the other way around. Your commitment
to a low carb lifestyle is a serious one and you are sticking with it. You are making
healthy choices for you.
I hope all of you have wonderful vacations. Remember that vacations are about friends,
family and new places to discover. Ask for support and encouragement from your traveling
companions when you need it.
As for me, I am heading to Denver, Colorado in a couple of weeks. I will let you know how
that goes. Travel healthy!
Christine Witt is a mother and gift store owner in upstate New York. She enjoys photography
and, of course, travel.
Copyright © July 2004 Christine Witt and Low Carb Luxury