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Take Your Diet on the Road

Traveling doesn't have to land you in fat city

Pack Your Snacks continued...

Fitness expert Debbie Mandel, author of Turn on Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul, suggests filling up on fresh fruits and vegetables at local markets when you travel. Not only may you discover foods that you can't find at home, you'll reap the benefits of the fiber found in fresh produce.

"By filling up with fiber, you'll keep your weight under control," says Mandel.

Drinking plenty of bottled water will also help fill you up and keep you from feeling fatigued, says Mandel.

And don't forget to exercise, she adds.

"Speed up your metabolism," she advises. Walk, jump rope, use water bottles as weights, or do push-ups and sit-ups. ... These are all exercises you can do wherever you go."

Airport Advice

Airports can be particularly dangerous for weight-conscious travelers, says Jyl Steinback, the author of 10 cookbooks for healthy eating.

"Finding healthy food inside an airport terminal can be quite a challenge," says Steinback. "Healthy choices are available, but often not as readily accessible as the pizzas, hot dogs, and other fast food items."

The best strategy is to travel with your own snacks, she says. But if you get caught in the airport without a stash of snacks on hand, create your own healthy meal. Buy a bagel, but skip the butter or cream cheese, and add a little jelly instead. Look for fresh fruit, low-fat or fat-free yogurt, salads (but watch the fatty dressings), and bottled water, skim milk, or small bottles of juice.

If you're on one of the increasingly rare flights that serves food, order a vegetarian meal, says NYU nutritionist Samantha Heller. You can also call ahead of time and advise the airline of any special dietary needs you have.

Eating out in restaurants presents its own challenges, says Steinback, but they, too, can be managed. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Ask for substitutions. Choose salad, fruit, rice, or a baked potato instead of chips, fries, or coleslaw.
  • Pay attention to what you choose on the salad bar. A salad soaked in oily or creamy dressing can be more fattening than a Big Mac and fries.
  • Order half-portions, or share an entrée with someone else at your table.
  • Eat only what tastes great. Don't waste calories on foods you can live without.
  • Order a large side dish and a small entrée, or several healthy-choice appetizers instead of an entrée.
  • Skip anything called "smothered," "crispy," crusted," or "sautéed."
  • Don't order dessert right after finishing your meal. If you wait a few minutes, you may find you're not as hungry for it as you thought.

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?

What do you do if you're visiting friends or family? There are ways to negotiate meals -- even holiday meals -- when you're in someone else's home, says Samantha Heller.

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