Eats: 10 Tips for Vacation Noshing by Sara

Life is good. You’ve got a vacation on the books and you are ready to GET OUT of Chicago. We totally get it and we’re with you. But before you go, we’ve got some tips to make sure you stay nourished and well, that you don’t get “hangry.” Because that behavior is not well-received vacation behavior. 😉

  • Pack your snacks – You might not know where or when you’re next meal will be. That means you should pack plenty of nourishing snacks to tide you over. Yes, you could buy these snacks at the airport, but bringing them ensures you’ve got what you like and that you aren’t paying an arm and a leg for it! My advice? Pack stuff that travel wells and pre-portion it. Nuts, dried fruit, whole grain cereal and popcorn are great choices.
  • Browse the menu before you dine – The internet is a beautiful thing! Besides wasting hours of your life checking facebook and your email, you can also check out restaurant menus! That means you can research those restaurants at your vacation destination BEFORE you even get there. This will make it easier for you to 1) determine if that restaurant is worth dining at and 2) if it is, determine what you’d like to eat there. Preparation is key. So, yeah, skip the fried fish shack that only has fried items on it’s menu. Instead, opt for the taco stand with the veggie taco!
  • Treat yourself (judiciously) – You’re on VACATION! So, yes, enjoy it. Just don’t go crazy. If key lime pie on a stick is calling your name, get one. But instead of scarfing it down by yourself, share it with a friend or family member. Sharing is the best way to enjoy treats!
  • Start with a salad – A salad is a great way to start a meal because it will fill the void before your meal arrives. That means you’ll be loading up on veggies instead of that bread basket. Go with a salad that’s heavy on the veggies and light on the extraneous stuff that doesn’t have much nutritional value (croutons, I’m talking to you!). And order the dressing on the side to prevent soggy, oversaturated lettuce!
  • Drink plenty of the clear stuff (water, that is) – Your schedule is way off and it’s likely you’ll neglect sipping good old H2O. Dehydration can set in quickly and can sneakily make you feel hungry, instead of thirsty. That’s why I recommend you bring a water bottle with you wherever you go. Keep it full and sip from it often. When you’re at a restaurant or drive-thru, ask for a few lemon wedges and some ice for a refreshing beverage!
  • Order stuff on the side – So many meals at restaurants these days offer a variety of sauces and dressings. Those can be a disaster in terms of non-nutritive calories. Not only that, they can often hide the true deliciousness of the food you’re trying to enjoy. Instead of going “all-in” with the sauces and dressings, ask for them on the side. That way you’re in control and you can put as much or as little on as you’d like.
  • Choose apps for your meal – How many times have you been to a restaurant, had your food arrive at the table and proclaim, “this is enough to feed four people!?” Yeah, me too. Many of the main meal items are HUGE. Way more food than any normal person should enjoy at one time. That’s why the appetizer menu is always a favorite of mine. Smaller portions abound there and now the choices there are just as delicious as any main menu item. So go for the hummus and veggie plate, the mini grilled fish tacos or roasted cauliflower bites!
  • Load up on veggies – Yes, you should be doing this at home, but there’s no reason you can’t do it on vacation! In fact, some of the places you travel might have some pretty awesome local, in-season produce that you should try! Focus on getting a vegetable at every meal. Your vacation body will thank you!
  • Skip the buffet – Such a temptation, right? But if possible, skip it. It’s never a good thing to have “free reign” at the buffet table, especially if you lack self control. There’s no need for endless plates of food. I promise. Instead, pick items off the menu. You won’t regret that choice.
  • Watch that alcohol – Oh the joys of $1.00 margaritas and bottomless pitchers of beer. Hmmmm, while the “joy” might be felt during the drinking process, there won’t be much of that joy left over the next day while you’re reaching desperately for your big sunglasses, hat and ear plugs. The only cure for a hangover is to not drink excessively. So, do yourself a favor and stick to 1 (2 max!) drink and nurse that puppy. You won’t have to suffer that hangover and you’ll be able to enjoy your vacation (that you spent so much money on!).

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