Healthy eating tips for travelers

(ARA) – You’re rushing to make another flight or the next cab, hopping on the train or hunting for your rental car. You’re exhausted and hungry and so many miles from home. And you’re staring at yet another restaurant menu, battling the urge to splurge again. Whether you travel for work or pleasure, meal time can be a battle between your willpower and your taste buds. But it doesn’t have to be.

It’s not how much you eat, but how much flavor you consume that makes you full, according to Chef Michael Buttles, culinary academic director at The Art Institute of San Antonio, a branch of The Art Institute of Houston.

“It’s about balanced flavor – acid, sugar, fat, fiber and spice,” says Buttles. “Integrate what you like with that pattern because good flavors make you full. Your palate will tell you you’re full.”

While balancing flavors may be important, it’s just as essential to take a look at how the foods you’re eating are prepared. “Your body is already affected by the different time zone or elevation, don’t introduce unhealthy foods into the mix,” cautions Chef Frank Krause, culinary academic director at The Art Institute of Salt Lake City. “If something is sauteed, broiled or grilled, it tends to be healthier based on the cooking technique. Stay away from fried foods.”

Even though a salad can be a healthy choice for travelers, it can also be the fattiest item you order all day according to The Art Institute of Austin Culinary Academic Director Chef Andrea Alexander. “They have so many hidden calories – cheese, croutons, dressing, avocados and eggs,” she warns. “Diners need to determine what’s healthy and what’s not healthy. Keep the avocado on but put the dressing on the side and opt for a blue or goat cheese over other cheeses – they have less fat and your body utilizes them better.”

It’s easy to skip a meal or two when you’re on the go, but Krause admonishes travelers not to and advises that you pack snacks to keep hunger at bay between meals. It could keep you from making a poor decision. Those snacks – like granola bars and fruit – can also be an appetite-saver at the airport.

And then there’s portion control. Buttles says travelers need to learn what size a portion is and what size is good for them. Alexander adds a helpful tip when figuring out portion size, “If it’s bigger than your fist, it’s too big.” She says restaurants that serve small plates are a good option for diners looking to control the amount they eat while trying a variety of local tastes.

Also, don’t forget water. Staying hydrated is harder when you’re on the go, especially when you fly. Make sure to drink plenty of water or sports drinks, but try to stay away from soda.

One last piece of advice – enjoy the local fare. Whether you’ve traveled to the region on business or for pleasure, you might as well take advantage of the opportunity to try a little something new. Bon appetit.

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