Traveling and the Holidays: Tis the Season to Keep Healthy

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by Anne Kemp

This is the time of year when travelers begin annual treks over the river and through the woods, bustling toward the next family gathering or holiday party, or jetting off to visit loved ones in far away locales. Amateur bakers dust off their rolling pins during the month of December and holiday fetes are planned for out-of-town guests. Yes, it is that time of year, Virginia. The time of year when most revelers gain weight.

Tis the season for huge portions served everywhere you go, in homes and restaurants alike. Calendars are packed with more parties to fit in than time allotted for exercise. It’s no wonder that even the healthiest of folks have been reported to gain anywhere from one to eight pounds over the holiday season.

How do we stop this trend? It’s really simple and can be done by thinking ahead. At this time of year, you just need to use the Three P’s!

Planning, Prevention and Preparation.

Step One - Planning

Whether traveling across the country to visit family or driving to the other side of town to attend a holiday party, call ahead and ask the hostess if you can help by bringing a dish. A seven layer dip, which is normally filled with processed guacamole and full-fat sour cream and cheese, can be made into a lighter version by using fat-free sour cream, making fresh homemade guacamole, and topping with a low-fat cheese. Grab a bag of baked tortilla chips with little to no salt and you’re set. If you’re out-of-town and on a special diet, such as gluten free, stop by the local grocery stores to see what’s stocked or research the products they carry online before your arrival. Most grocery stores offer Betty Crocker’s Gluten Free Cakes and Cookies or Bob’s Red Mill Flour for baking. Offer to make cakes or breads from your “own” recipe, surprising your hosts with the amazing taste of these desserts.

Step Two - Prevention

Traveling through airports or venturing out on road trips is especially tough when watching your waistline. Take time to pack snack items, such as travel packets of almond or peanut butter with gluten free or low-fat crackers, raw almonds or dried fruit. Instead of splurging on a pastry when waiting at the terminal, choose an apple or banana, and always carry a bottle of water with you for the plane. Then planning for a road trip, make room in your car for a stocked cooler with healthy snacks for everyone, such as carrots and hummus dip or pre-rolled turkey and lettuce snacks (for the gluten free or low-carb dieter) or fresh fruits and yogurts. Add extra ice at each rest stop. An ounce of prevention is truly worth its weight…in gold or otherwise.

Step Three - Preparation

Scan the holiday calendar; keeping an eye out for parties or travel scenarios that may need some “pre-attendance adjustment.” There may be a gathering where you can eat a healthier meal, such as a hearty salad or quick veggie stir-fry, before you go, thus warding off the temptation of passed hors d'oeuvres or a buffet. Find time before a big dinner to fit in a workout, like sit-ups and a quick run. When packing for your holiday trip, make sure to take your sneakers and encourage others in your family to go out for a quick walk with you to work off your holiday meals. Find a local park or map out a trail through the neighborhood. Staying in tight quarters? Take a few minutes to do some push-ups or stretching.

The secret is all in using moderation and taking baby steps. By taking preventative measures each day during this holiday season, you will insure that you’ll be feeling your fittest, finest and fiercest of them all!

Anne Kemp is a columnist and blogger for the Frederick News-Post, a newspaper in the Washington D.C Metro area. Kemp writes about dating and relationships, travel, product reviews and living a gluten-free lifestyle. As an author, her first book, Rum Punch Regrets, will be released May of 2012.

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