Eat Healthy and Save Money on Vacation

If your normally healthy diet goes out the window when traveling, you’re not alone.

Regardless of the type of diet you follow, temptation begins the instant you leave home. While the airlines have practically eliminated free snacks and in-flight meals, the airport, timezone changes, the waiting, lack of routine and accountability–especially when traveling alone–can all wreck your discipline.

When I heard the upscale Embassy Suites Waikiki offered a nightly evening manager’s reception, I pictured eating green salads, antipastos, and raw vegetables I had often found in Hilton’s Asian properties.

It took me 2 days to realize the happy hour’s “rotating menu of snacks” alternated between a variety of salty junk foods (peanuts, pretzels, party mix and chips), which–try as I might–I couldn’t resist shoveling onto my plate. What’s worse, I still ate a normal dinner afterward, in order to feel satisfied.

I had to make sure this situation would not continue, or I would certainly be in store for big weight gain during my vacation.

How does a traveler stay healthy, when it seems so much is out of your hands??

  • First of all–it may sound obvious–but don’t select a vacation destination just because of its unbridled eating opportunities. Your subconscious mind is more powerful than you think.
  • If you have a choice of hotels, check around ahead of time and choose one that offers fresh foods containing plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.

  • If you don’t have the will-power to stop eating after a reasonable amount (a couple handfuls of nuts or chips), you’re better off skipping the affairs entirely.
  • Make it a point to exercise as much–if not more–than you normally would. Scheduled classes such as yoga or aerobics are best, to avoid our natural tendency to procrastinate. Bringing along some exercise DVDs will ensure you have something to do until you get oriented.
  • Busy yourself with activities that do not revolve around food. Skip the Luau and go hiking, walking, swimming, running (join a marathon club), surfing, snorkeling, and other water sports such as stand-up paddle-boarding.
  • Embassy Suites Waikiki offers Ashtanga Yoga one morning a week, and I was happy to learn the instructor conducts free classes (in both English and Japanese) at the nearby Waikiki Shopping Plaza. Be proactive, and ask your instructor!
  • Eat meals full of whole, plant based foods, so you don’t have room for, or crave high calorie processed snacks.
  • Do make use of the hotel’s bathroom scale to keep yourself honest and do whatever you can to balance out all the inevitable eating mishaps.
  • Research the surrounding area for natural organic food stores and healthier restaurants.

Here are some more of my recommendations for eating out in Waikiki:

  • Ruffage/Veggie Star, for its Tempeh sandwich with sprouts. You can get this one gluten-free (brown rice) bread, and mustard for lower calorie over veggie mayo.
  • Maui Tacos. Order their haiku burrito made with potatoes and black beans. and ask them to hold the cheese, and substitute guacamole substituted for the sour cream.
  • I mentioned Yuzu’s beautiful arrangement of veggie sushi during my last visit. Their hand-cut veggie udon with mountain vegetables is also delicious.
  • Yard House on Lewers St. has a number of dishes made with Gardein mock-meats, such as the “Chicken” Rice Bowl with bokchoy, baby corn, snap peas, carrots, shiitake, celery, peppers and broccoli served with a choice of jasmine or brown rice.
  • Farmers markets in Waikiki at the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center, or Ala Moana Center, KCC etc. Select fresh vegetables and fruits, fresh baked whole grain breads, and avoid the oily and sugary prepared foods.

Here’s another idea for making your vacation more rejuvenating and relaxing: Join the local vegetarian society or attend dine-out meetings and other events arranged by the vegetarian society in your destination. This is an excellent way to network, as well as find like-minded company.

As a bonus, if you join the Vegetarian Society of Hawaii ($25 for 1-year) you can get 5-10% off at many area restaurants, as well as at Down to Earth, which carries a great selection of vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free prepared foods.

Even if you don’t have access to a kitchen, you’re much better off preparing a sandwich of freshly-ground nut butter and bananas (or kale) on whole-grain bread in your room than eating most of the restaurant fare out there. And you’ll save lots of money, too.

This post is also available in: Japanese

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