I am not going to lie to you… traveling and vacationing can prove to make healthy eating a real challenge.  If you don’t have a place to prepare your own food on the road, such as a beach house or cabin rental, you can easily find yourself at the whim of convenience stores and fast food restaurants.

But with a little planning ahead of time, you don’t have to be completely at their mercy.  Here are a few tips to get you on the “road” to health and a happy vacation.

Do some planning before you leave.  With the power of the internet, such planning has never been easier.  Find out how close you will be staying to farmer’s markets and grocery stores that carry fresh produce so you can load up on produce as soon as you arrive.  Do your research to find the healthiest restaurants along the way, especially local restaurants that use local products.  Restaurants that take pride in using local products typically provide healthy options and prepare their meals in healthier ways.

Take your own snacks for a road trip or plane ride to keep you from stopping for unhealthy snacks at convenience stores or vending machines.   Trail mix, homemade granola, chopped raw vegetables, hummus, apples, and raw or dry roasted nuts are all good options.

Fill up on healthy foods at a breakfast or lunch buffet, especially if you are staying at a resort or hotel.  Almost all of them have healthier options alongside the bacon, sausage, French toast and doughnuts. Enjoy some eggs if you like, and load up on fresh fruits, salads, vegetables, and whole grains such as oatmeal. Focus on the “crowding out” theory – eat plenty of the good stuff, so that if you are presented with the bad stuff later, you won’t have as much room for it.

•If you have a choice, choose sit down restaurants instead of fast food.  Fast food is always bad food, and in sit down restaurants, at least you have more options and can make more requests about how you want your food to be prepared.

Avoid deep fried foods, entrees with cream sauces, and big desserts.  If you’re visiting a place you’ve never been before, try to find the healthiest foods that make the area famous – such as fresh fish at the beach.

•If you’re on vacation, there will be times you’ll want to do something less than completely healthy.  Just be careful about what you choose and make sure that if you’re taking in extra calories, sugar, or fat, the dish is worth the sacrifice!

By Helene Geigelman