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Travel Talk

Travel Talk: Keep your weight in check while traveling

Some people can go on vacation and indulge in all manner of eating and drinking without gaining an ounce. Sadly, Bud and I don’t belong to that fortunate group. Beignets in New Orleans, Pina Coladas in the Caribbean and those yummy sauces in Paris – no matter! For us, it all goes straight to fat. Since we travel fairly often, we’ve had to try and figure out how to stem the tide of increasing blubber.

Common sense: Gaining weight is mostly a matter of math. If you take in more calories than you burn, you put on pounds. Sure, that’s oversimplified – there are proteins, fats, carbohydrates and such, each of which are absorbed/burned by the body a bit differently. There are all-protein diets, low-carb diets, low-fat diets ad nauseum. I’ve tried most of them! When I’m home and in strict control of shopping and eating, it’s fairly easy to stay focused. But on the road? Forget about it! Whether you’re on a tour, a cruise, a road trip, or an all-inclusive resort in the islands, your ability to stick to any regimen will be limited. If you want to avoid putting on the pounds, begin by getting in touch with your normal at-home food intake. If you eat donuts and bacon and enjoy nightly cocktails with your slab of beef and still stay trim, fine! If (like us) you tend toward boiled eggs on dry toast and baked chicken, and you keep splurges to weekends, it’s only common sense that French pastries or pasta buffets are going to end up on your hips.

Choices: How, then, do you enjoy a culinary experience while traveling? By taking control and doing a bit of planning. Whether you’re doing independent or group touring, cruising, or settling into a Caribbean resort, you’ll have a general idea of what the day will hold. Being in restaurants, you’ll also have control over what you order. Have a big dinner coming up, or meeting friends for cocktails on the beach? You have choices. Go ahead and have the waffles but plan to skip lunch or have just a piece of fruit. Is your tour stopping at a legendary German beer hall for lunch? Maybe try a poached egg for breakfast and enjoy beer and schnitzel later. Ask wait staff about serving size (or just look around). If portions are large, Bud and I will often split an entrée; when we can’t resist dessert, we always share. When our schedule is flexible, we’ll have a late full breakfast, skip lunch altogether, then have an early-ish dinner. Alternatively, we’ll sometimes do a very light breakfast, have our main meal at midday, then a snack before bed.

Balance: The weight-gain equation has two sides: what you take in and what you burn. Again, compare your at-home activity to your vacation plans. If you normally are desk-bound, like me, but will be playing an hour of singles tennis a day on vacation, you’ll have about 500 calories to “spend.” That’s a frozen drink or a couple of glasses of wine and some cheese and crackers. If you’re a sedentary sort and will be walking for several hours, have some treats. If you’re going to be bus (or lounge chair) bound but usually work out at home, well, there will be consequences! As obsessive-compulsive as I am, I hate counting/recording and just try be aware of calories in/out. If you’re more meticulous, caloriecounter.org has wonderful planning tools.

(Chase Binder lives in Bow. Read her blog at travelswithchase.blogspot.com.)

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