Imagine this: You’re on a holiday, and walking down a pebbled street, you stop by for some waffles with a dollop of whipped cream. Which is okay, after all, you’re vacationing and it is a time to relax and unwind. However, if you’re on a mission to eat mindfully and healthy, with a little planning, it is possible to have your caramel cake and eat it too, but smartly. Here’s how the experts ace this.
Look local and seasonal
“I love to explore new foods and mostly eat fresh local food but since I’m a vegetarian, it’s sometimes tough to find the right options,” shares Lovneet Batra, a Delhi-based clinical nutritionist. Sheela Krishnaswamy, Bengaluru-based registered dietician and wellness consultant also prefers tasting vegetarian local cuisine while she travels. Batra shares, “In countries with cold climates, I ensure to load up on healthy protein and fat through nuts and seeds, lentil-based soups and fresh cheese.” In warmer temperatures, she focuses on fresh fruits, vegetables, yoghurt and rice.
Pack your favourite snacks
For snacking in between while on vacation, Batra carries roasted chana, a great source of protein, fibre and fatty acids, amaranth puffs which are protein-rich and gluten-free, and makhana (fox nuts), a great source of protein, fibre, magnesium, potassium, iron and zinc. Krishnaswamy keeps a balance of both home and local cuisine. While she carries some snacks from home just in case of need, “but most of the time I eat whatever is available locally,” she says. Shweta Bhatia, Mumbai-based sports nutritionist follows the same rule. While she carries a protein shake, plain yoghurt and nuts as go-to options, “I eat according to what is in season and available at that time.”
Another way to ensure that you load up on necessary minerals and vitamins is by consuming five servings of fruits and vegetables every day. The Harvard School of Public Health says that eating five portions of fruits and vegetables each day cuts your risk of premature death by a quarter. This practice will help you look for meals in a restaurant which are more filling and give you the energy you need for sightseeing.
Drink water, often
Travelling in terrain that you’re not used to can dehydrate you. Pack a water tumbler to avoid buying plastic bottles, especially if you’re travelling in a country with safe tap water. According to the Centre for Disease Control, the United States and most European countries such as Portugal, Ireland, United Kingdom, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden have tap water which is safe to consume. By filling up your water bottle you’ll be safe from microplastic particles, which the World Health Organization has recently labelled as ‘potentially harmful’.
Map your meals
Before you set off sight-seeing, to fuel up for your day, take a complete tour of the breakfast buffet. A PLOS One study shows that 65 per cent of what makes onto your plate, is from the first three items you see on the buffet line. Next, for a wholesome meal, give your lunch and dinner undivided attention. Which means do not multitask and especially tune out from screens while you eat. Additionally, a study in the journal Appetite suggests that one should indulge in your favourite food at the very end to avoid overeating.
Be conscientious and wary
Along with your meals, make sure you reserve your cheat day too like Bhatia. “I pick meat and vegetables for my main meals,” says Bhatia. She reserves one day in every three days for her cheat days. To dodge the travellers’ tummy while lining up for your morning buffet, remember WHO’s simple rule: “boil it, cook it, peel it, or forget it.” Krishnaswamy herself stays away from cold and refrigerated foods and sticks to consuming foods that are warm. Cold meat platter, cheese, buffet foods and unsealed condiments such as ketchup and mayonnaise can be home to unsuspecting bacteria. But don’t forget, says Batra, “food is a huge part of the entire travel experience, so don’t forget to enjoy yourself.”
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