You’re on vacation. You’ve been traveling all day. It’s 11 p.m. local time and you have just arrived in the city where you’ll be spending the night.
You are hungry and tired. The tuna salad wrap you brought from home (light on mayo, heavy on salad greens) is a distant memory. The celery and carrot sticks are long gone. The steamed vegetables and rice you bought at the airport were good, but that was hours ago. Your hotel is in a hotel district—no food stores nearby, just fast food restaurants.
You consider your options. You could just go to bed, but you might be too hungry to sleep. Candy and crackers from the vending machine, well, you are not that desperate yet. If you are traveling abroad, it can be even trickier to know which foreign foods are healthy and which are not.
Alas, you notice a few tables in the bar area of your hotel, so you take a seat.
The late night menu offers few choices. But, as a skilled and thoughtful eater, you know how to tease a healthy meal from a disappointing menu.
Here’s what you do to turn a dieter’s dilemma into a decent dinner:
- Choose eggs over the hamburger. Eggs have gotten a bad reputation over the past 30 years, but recent research shows they can be part of a heart-healthy diet. Eggs are an inexpensive and readily available source of protein, and protein helps make you feel full. A hamburger made from lean or extra lean ground beef could be fine, especially it it’s broiled and not pan-fried, but you’re too tired to quiz the multi-tasking waitress about the quality of the meat.
- Say no thanks to the sausage and biscuit. Unlike eggs, these popular egg companions are high in saturated fat.
- Order your eggs soft-boiled. Boiled or poached eggs don’t require butter or oil for cooking.
- Select whole wheat bread and you could specify dry toast (that is, no butter). Maybe even skip the jam.
- Ask for a side salad instead of the hash browns. You may prefer olive oil and lemon juice for the salad, but they don’t have it. So you could order vinaigrette dressing on the side instead of risking having the greens drenched with a creamy or cheesy dressing.
- Ask for milk in your coffee—2% if they have it, but even whole milk is better than cream.
- Drink water instead of sugary soda. Hating water? Get bubble (carbonated) water.
- Skip the mashed potatoes and get veggies
- Ask for dressing on the side instead of in your salad
- Take a smaller portion. Do you really want a 16oz steak after a long day of traveling? Your body needs rest and good food to rejuvenate itself; stuffing meat in your body does not do that. Opt for a smaller portion like 4 to 6oz steak.
- Avoid bacon, bacon bits and anything else bacon. Just skip it.
- Skip the bearnaise sauce with eggs. It is fatty, unhealthy and fatty.
You have the most control over your diet when you do the shopping and the cooking yourself. But when you are traveling you often don’t have that option. You can, however, make healthy choices no matter what the menu. Choose carefully and ask for small modifications that can make a huge difference to your diet.