We all know how tempting it can be to abandon our good sense while on vacation.
When it comes to eating healthy, many of us tend to make poor choices and relax our normal restraint. We'll grab an ice cream cone here, a slice of pizza there, etc.
But there are ways to keep watch over what we consume, and with a little pre-departure research, along with a solid determination to eat well while on vacation and common sense, your job of keeping your weight in-check should be made a little bit easier - even on a cruise.
Here are a few tips to help you keep that "girly" or "Adonis" looking body.
If you are flying, it is easy enough to request a low-fat or vegetarian meal prior to longer flights (where you might still be lucky enough to have a meal in business or first class).
Alternatively, you can purchase a relatively healthy meal at one of the airport restaurants or at a stop on the way to the airport.
Although there is food around the clock on any cruise you may be on, keep in mind that the restaurants on board will accommodate any dietary request, and that is a fact.
Cruise line companies pride themselves on having every possible meal to please everyone's palates, and even encourage guests to ask for something if they do not see what they want on the menu.
So, there's no reason to put on those extra pounds while cruising, not to mention those incredible well-fitted gyms that you now find on board begging to be used and that would help keep those pounds off if you must over-indulge at mealtime.
If you are driving to your destination, the quest to find healthy food on the road can get a little more complicated. So, rather than relying on roadside "greasy spoons" for nutrition, pack a variety of nutritious foods in a cooler.
Fruits and raw vegetables, sandwiches, individual packages of crackers, yogurt and granola bars are quick and easy solutions for the road. Also, pack a few bottles of water so you don't become tired and dehydrated while driving.
If you have to stop at a drive-thru, try to order your hamburger without cheese, skip the condiments, choose grilled meats instead of fried and look to the salad bar for options whenever possible.
Just make sure you don't drive too long without eating. Always stop at a rest area to eat (especially with children, who run the risk of choking when fed while in a car seat) and stay away from sugary snacks.
When you arrive at your hotel, you can help your weight-control cause by doing yourself a favor and turning down the mini-bar key to avoid tempting yourself with goodies (and a hefty tab).
If your hotel offers a continental breakfast, stick to fruits, cereals and proteins, such as eggs. A low-fat muffin is a good alternative to a sticky Danish pastry and a fat-laden donut.
If your hotel has a microwave or an in-room refrigerator, consider bringing food from home whose nutrition content you already know. If worse comes to worst, you can always rely on the hotel coffee maker to heat water for oatmeal you've brought from home.
If you have to eat out, remember to eat only when hungry. Don't fill up simply because it's free (if you're on a business trip) or because it's there).
Restaurants in the U.S. tend to serve overwhelmingly large portions, so be wary.
However, restaurants in Europe and other international destinations, on the other hand, may leave you feeling that the main course is yet to come. So be careful with extra "snacks" to make up the difference.
If you do overindulge at one meal, simply scale back a bit on the next. Forgive yourself for any diet blunders and take a walk around the hotel or swim in the pool. Also, try to find restaurants that will work with your needs; ones that will broil instead of fry, cook with low-fat cheese or use non-fat milk.
Instead of focusing on "three squares" a day, try to fit in smaller meals or snacks, as your body requires fuel every four to five hours. When eating out, either avoid the appetizers altogether or choose appetizers instead of entrees to avoid eating oversized amounts of food.
Whatever you do, don't skip meals.
If at all possible, avoid large meals at night. When your body slows down for sleep, it burns calories less efficiently. Pass up the breadbasket at dinner, and certainly avoid the butter, margarine and oil that come along with it.
Choose fish or poultry for your entrée and make an effort to include lots of vegetables rather than French fries or coleslaw.
Here area a few terms to avoid if at all possible: buttery or buttered, basted, fried, crispy, creamed, in gravy, hollandaise, au gratin, in cheese sauce, scalloped and rich.
And here are a few good terms that are more user- friendly: stir fried, steamed, au jus (in its own juices), poached, raw and garden fresh.
Finally, no meal is complete without a nice tasty dessert, but limit your intake and consider all options such as choosing sorbet and not ice cream, fresh fruit and not cake.
Alcohol has loads of calories, so carefully limit your alcohol intake, as all those extra calories add up.
And don't forget that it's not Santa Claus who is patrolling Interstate 95. If you do see a jolly little man in a sleigh, pull over quickly and find a room for the night. You will be happy you did.
In short, trust your own good judgment and stick to your normal eating habits or as close to them as possible when away from home. Take care of yourself so that you can have many happy, healthy vacations for years to come.
And from all of us at Global Tours, may we take this opportunity to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and a healthy and successful 2007.
And until you do go on that trip of a lifetime, happy travel dreams.
Geraldine Blanchard is a travel consultant with Global Tours and Travel at 559 W. Eau Gallie Blvd. Melbourne. She can be reached at (321) 676-6040 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For information, visit www.globaltours.com.