Whether heading out on a business trip or taking a vacation, even the most experienced travellers can fall off their nutrition game. Being away from home and routine is a powerful temptation to do too much, eat too much and throw caution to the wind.
But nobody wants to come back from vacation all happy and then cry about not fitting into their clothes. Sometimes, you can’t tell what’s on a menu in a new city.
Being prepared is your first step. You can still indulge in a nutritious diet while on the go.
Eating out and wanting to pick something healthy off the menu?
Here are my favourite go-to menu items for specific types of restaurants so you know you’re making a healthy choice.
How to Eat Healthy at Italian Restaurants
• pasta Fagioli
• house salad
• fresh fish or seafood that is cooked in olive oil
• leafy salads
• pasta (in tomato or marinara sauce with little olive oil and no cheese)
• cappuccino with skimmed milk
• fruit sorbets (with no added flavours or syrups)
• Caeser salad
• pasta in alfredo or bolognese sauces (or anything in a white sauce)
• lasagna, ravioli, cannelloni
• fried calamari or anything fried
• gelato, tiramisu, anything in `parmigiana’ (it’s loaded with cheese)
How to Eat Healthy at Chinese Restaurants
• Chicken prawn vegetable suimai, kung pao chicken (not fried)
• seafood or vegetable Cheung fun
• prawn chicken vegetable dim sum
• steamed bread or mushroom chicken bun
• tom yum soup, wonton soup, chicken vegetable noodle soup
• steamed rice, soft stewed rice with vegetables, soft stewed noodles
• steamed prawns in lemon sauce
• steamed fish in soy, ginger and spring onions
• chicken with exotic vegetables in moo goo gai pan sauce
• schezuan eggplant
• Buddha’s delight
• Fried wantons
• steamed dim sum in chilli oil
• Peking duck, pork bun
• Fried chilli prawns, fried chilli chicken
• sesame prawn toast
• Szechwan chicken, fish
• vegetarian Manchurian
• spare ribs
• kung pao chicken potato
• chowmein, lomein, anything with the word `golden’ or `crispy’ in it as that means it is fried
How to Eat Healthy at Japanese Restaurants
• Sushi especially nigiri sushi (rice and seaweed) made with cooked crabs, salmon, bass, yellowtail, tuna, squid, scrambled eggs, tofu or vegetables and sashimi
• maki rolls (raw salmon, tuna, squid or prawn) with no cheese
• miso soup
• steamed edamame
• teppanyaki dishes (prepared with no oil)
• sukiyaki dishes (cooked at the table and you can supervise the oil content)
• okonomiyaki pizza
• broiled sea bass (or any fish seafood) with soya or ginger sauce
• ocha or green tea
• soba noodles
• dragon rolls
• chicken teriyaki
• fried dumpling or gyoza
• ramen noodles
• breaded chicken katsu
• green asparagus tempura or sautéed with soya butter
• foie gras teppanyaki
How to Eat Healthy at Thai Restaurants
• Tom yum soup
• Som tam ( green papaya salad ), Yum ma-Muang (green mango salad), Yum Talay (seafood salad)
• Green Curry (With Extra Veggies And tofu or chicken )
• Kaeng Liang (vegetable soup Thai style)
• fish with veggies
• summer rolls
• Pad Pak Bung Fai Daeng (stir-fried morning glory)
• Khao man Gai (chicken and rice)
• Gai pad med mamuang (chicken with cashew nuts)
• Chicken satay
• Pad Thai noodles
• Tom Kha Gai
• Gaeng ped gai
• Khao Pad ( Thai fried rice)
• Coconut Curry
• Massaman curry
• Fried Thai rolls
• Sticky Rice Dessert with Mango, Gluay kaeg dessert (dish of fried bananas)
• Crispy fish
• Thai Iced Tea
How to Eat Healthy at Mexican Restaurants
• Un-Fried Mains like Enchiladas, burritos, tamales, and soft-shell tacos
• Tortilla Soup or Posole
• Steak, Black Beans
• salsa, guacamole, and fresh pico de gallo
• black beans
• grilled fish
• fajitas (with a better ratio of veg to meat and toppings)
• Burrito bowl
• taco salad (without the taco shell)
• tostadas (open-faced tacos) and Rellenos (poblano peppers)
• Fried Entrées like Chile Rellenos, chalupas, chimichangas, gorditas, tostadas, and taquitos
• Fried Tortilla Shells
• ground beef, refried beans
• chimichangas or chimi ( deep-fried burrito )
• Tortilla Chips
• Queso (cheese sauce)
How to Eat Healthy at Mediterranean Restaurants
• Baba ghanoush (without extra olive oil)
• hummus, tzatziki, labneh
• Greek salad and horiatiki salads (with reduced feta cheese and dressing on the side)
• souvlaki, dolmades, keftedes (baked, not fried)
• deep-fried calamari, tiropita, falafels
• red pepper feta, saganaki cheese
• gyro platter
• baklava, baklava cheesecake
Now, all you need to do is use these tips the next time you go out to eat. The more you use them, the better you’ll get at spotting healthy versus unhealthy options and it will feel more and more natural.
Carry nuts and fresh fruit with you wherever you go, and steal in quick snack breaks which will help keep your blood sugar stable and make you less prone to stuffing yourself with sugary pies.
Stay hydrated, the hunger and thirst centres in your brains are so closely located next to each other, sometimes you crave food when all you want is water.
The bottom line is it’s possible to make good choices and have control over your food – even at restaurants.
Most importantly, Don’t stress—just get back on track.
Above all, there’s a time and a place for healthy eating. It’s important to figure out where to cut yourself some slack and where to practice discipline.
But having a healthy relationship with food, in my opinion, does not mean worrying about food calories on vacation. Any weight you gain during a week of vacation is likely water weight or constipation. When you get home, be diligent about getting back to eating well.
Plenty of vegetables, along with healthy carbohydrates and protein in appropriate portion sizes. Your body will get back to its normal in no time.
Along with nutrition, be diligent about your exercise. For meal planning that prioritizes your health and wellness, check out our articles.