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Eating right when you're away from home

Eating well always pays off, at home or away. Thinking ahead can help you make healthy choices as you travel.

Eating healthfully away from home can be a real challenge. Whether you're traveling by car, plane or train, convenience can easily beat out nutrition.

But your food choices on the road can have an impact on your waist, hips and good health, especially if you travel often.

These tips from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics can help you stick with good nutrition wherever you may roam.

Dining aloft

More and more often, you simply can't count on a meal during a plane flight. To find out what, if any, food will be served, check with your airline or travel agent when you make your reservation. This is also the ideal time to request a special meal, such as vegetarian, kosher, low-calorie or low-fat.

If no meal is served, plan nutritious meals before and after the flight or bring food on board. Foods that travel well include dried and fresh fruit, raw vegetables, crackers and cheese, muffins, bagels, pretzels, and peanuts. To avoid foodborne illness, don't let perishable foods such as meat sit at room temperature for more than two hours.

Whether you've planned ahead or not, remember you don't have to eat anything just because it's offered. The same goes for alcoholic drinks, which can worsen dehydration caused by the low humidity and recirculating air in planes. Water, juice or milk will help you stay hydrated—and milk and juice also offer nutrients.

On the road

When you're traveling by car, pack a brown bag or insulated cooler so that fast food and vending machines won't be your only options.

Vegetables, fresh fruit, juice boxes, cartons of milk, yogurt, cheese and sandwiches can go in the cooler. Pretzels, crackers, nuts and plain popcorn also make good snacks.

Instead of eating in the car, stop somewhere to enjoy your meal. Stretch and take a short, brisk walk.

Restaurants

Restaurants can be a minefield for anyone who's trying to eat healthfully.

If an expense account is covering your meal costs, it can be especially tempting to order more food than you need. But try to remember that overeating always has a cost for your body, no matter who's paying the bill.

To avoid overeating, try visualizing what your plate would look like if you were at home and stick to eating those portion sizes.

Control calories and fat by avoiding fried foods and rich sauces. Look for menu items that are broiled, poached or grilled, and request sauces and dressings on the side. Don't be afraid to ask for exceptions—even if an entrée is described as fried, they may be able to grill it on request.

Fast food

Even at fast-food restaurants, wise choices can help you get nutrients without super-size servings of salt or fat.

Make broiled and grilled items your most frequent choices, rather than anything fried. Order a side salad instead of french fries. Choose regular or kid-size servings instead of large or mega-size, or share a sandwich or side with a friend.

At sandwich shops, order whole-grain breads and buns, lean meats, and lots of vegetables. Remember that condiments matter too—choose nonfat options such as mustard, ketchup, salsa or fat-free dressings, and limit high-fat condiments such as tartar sauce and mayonnaise.

reviewed 8/20/2019

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