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Five Ways to Eat Right on Vacation


Nutrition Columnist

Nutrition Columnist

By: Zannat Reza 

You’re finally on vacation and can’t wait to let your hair down and relax. But you don’t have to ditch your commitment to eating right. I’m a big believer in the 80-20 rule, meaning 80 per cent of the time go for nourishing foods, which leaves enough room for tasty treats. Being away from home means you relinquish some control over what’s available to eat.

By arming yourself with some simple strategies, you can be a smart eater amidst your holiday bliss:

1. Pack some snacksDried fruit and nuts

Whether you’re taking a road trip or flying to your destination, snacks will keep those hunger pangs at bay. Hopefully, they will also keep mouths full enough so you won’t hear “are we there yet?” Think easy-to-carry fruits like apples, pears, grapes, berries, plums and peaches. Dried fruits (dates, raisins, prunes, apricots) and unsalted nuts also rock. Whole grain muffins, crackers and cereal are also a hit. Pack foods that don’t need ice packs, which won’t make it pass airport security’s no gel rule (I found out the hard way).

2. Find a fridge

Having access to a fridge on vacation is the best thing ever. It allows you to stock up on yogurt, cheese, fruit, salads and other perishables. On request, some hotels will empty out their mini bar for your use. I’ve also frozen juice boxes as makeshift ice packs.

3. Seek out grocery stores

Make Google Maps your BFF to help you scope out grocery stores. This is a great option for dining in. From pre-made salads and entrees, the choices are endless. Meals can be as simple as soup, bread and salad.

4. Give the kids’ menu the boot

Unless you’re in a foodie city like Vancouver, most kids’ menus are dumbed down. Why do fries have to accompany every kids’ meal? Get beyond pasta and chicken fingers and order off the regular menu. Split an entrée or order healthier appetizers. The kids will feel all grown up. If you really want fries, go halfsies – half fries, half veggie sticks. Also, ask for milk or 100% juice instead of pop. Fruit drinks and punches are just like pop without the fizz.

Coconut_burfi5. Maneuver around the aunties
If you’re visiting relatives you may feel forced to eat more food that you normally would. Yes, we South Asians like to show our hospitality by plying you with copious amounts of food. And if you don’t have seconds then there must be something wrong with the food. This can get a little overwhelming. Pre-empt the onslaught of food by saying you’re not that hungry, and start by serving yourself a smaller than normal portion. That way, if you go for seconds, it’s actually not that much food. If they get pushy, then say you really don’t want to waste food (sacrilege!). Try distraction tactics by asking how a certain recipe is made, and remember to praise the dishes profusely.

Even if these strategies work some of the time and you end up indulging, it’s okay. You’re on holiday. As long as you don’t eat that way every day, just move on and enjoy your summer.


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  1. Heather Bayer

    Booking a vacation rental instead of a hotel means you have your own kitchen and complete control over food choices. No trying to eat in a hotel room with only a bathroom sink to wash up in, and no more worrying about finding something to eat that’s healthy.


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