Summer is vacation time! Whether you’re heading to the beach, a work conference or a family reunion, travel can be a challenge for your waistline. It’s chaos! Your schedule is out of whack. You’ve traded your kettle bells for the oversized carry on you hope will fit into the bin. You’re totally surrounded by convenient fat and sugar and junk food galore! Sounds like a danger zone to me! The important thing is to anticipate the problems that you’ll run into when you travel and to prepare to meet and beat them! Lets look at some common challenges. First, food.

I think I had a flight delay on every trip I took last year. Traveling includes a lot of waiting. Boredom and stress are already eating triggers for most people, so having both boredom and stress in full view of the airport food court is totally a danger zone. Give in to that cinnamon roll stand while you wait for the plane and you’ve just downed a whopping 880 calories! Even the more “healthy” sounding Starbucks Zucchini Walnut Muffin packs a 490-calorie punch. As if the extra calorie load isn’t enough, all those carbs and sugar are going to do is spike your insulin levels and stimulate fat storage! Who wants that? A few hours in the terminal can easily lead to a 1000+ calorie overload if you aren’t prepared. So be prepared! How?

Pack a few protein-rich snacks to help you make it through your trip. Think beef jerky, just-add-water protein shake mix, or a low-calorie, high protein energy bar. You’ll fend off the hunger/boredom/stress without killing your nutritional goals.

I’m talking water, not the airport bar! Airplanes are full of dry air. Being hydrated will keep you less hungry and tired, thus less likely to binge on junk you know you don’t want in your body.

Just because dinner at the airport is unavoidable doesn’t mean you have to make bad choices. Even at the worst airport food court you can find at least one moderately healthy option. Look for someplace you can get a grilled protein dish and request seconds of whatever vegetables they serve. (Note: fries are not a vegetable.) If you forgot your snacks and you’re trolling around the Hudson News snack rack, steer clear of the candies and chips and opt for nuts or trail mix instead. And don’t forget portion control. Just because you bought a bag of trail mix doesn’t mean you have to eat the whole bag in one sitting. Take a handful and save the rest for later. Your wallet and your waistline will thank you later.

You just spent who knows how many hours sitting in an airplane. If you’ve got a layover and you have time to take a power walk, do it! You’ll avoid the food court trap and give your body a little much-needed movement while you’re at it.
Staying on track while you travel is not impossible. Plan ahead. Know your goals and remember them. Temporary satisfaction now is not worth sacrificing all you’ve been working toward. Be strong and be fit! You’re worth it.