Eating Healthy and Staying Trim in the U.S.V.I.

St. John beach view

Sit back in your chair and close your eyes. Picture white sandy beaches with water the color of clear, cool aquamarine. Colorful fish you can see simply just standing on the beach. Yes, the water is that clear. The rhythm of the day drops a few notches down from what you are used to at home. You have arrived in the U.S Virgin Islands. It’s a great place to visit for unwinding and enjoying nature. And the beautiful climate, lovely people and delicious Caribbean food pull it all together to have a uniquely memorable trip.

St. Thomas hotel and sea view

If you are like me, when you travel you want to enjoy the local food, feel great, continue to stay fit and avoid coming home with extra unwanted weight. The goal during a vacation, even if you’re trying to lose weight, is weight maintenance. Don’t try to lose weight when you are away. Enjoying the local food is part of the experience. But be mindful when making food choices. That is always key to good health. Read below for my tips on healthy eating in the USVI and staying fit. The USVI includes St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix. For this blog, we will limit our exploration to St. Thomas and St. John. We hope to cover St. Croix on another Caribbean trip.


Healthy Eating Tips:

Salad Caneel Bay

  1. Try to avoid fried foods, which are aplenty on these islands. Ask for grilled fish and chicken, instead of fried. Ask for salad or vegetables in place of the French fries.
  2. Portions are large in the USVI.  To keep calories down, share a salad and an entree with your dining partner.
  3. Choose more salads, grilled fish and vegetable-based dishes when you travel here.
  4. For dessert, order fresh fruit. They grow many delicious fruits here, including mangoes. Yum.
  5. Go easy on the alcohol. Yes, these islands are known for their rum and it is abundant. Instead, save your calories, and enjoy seltzer with lemon and a splash of juice.

Salad St Thomas


Staying Fit:

  1. Go for a hike. These islands are covered with lush greenery and trails. Or walk the beaches.
  2. Swim and snorkel. The water is gorgeous and the sea life is amazing. Think colorful fish, sea turtles and stingrays.
  3. Walk through the towns and take in the amazing history of these beautiful islands.

Restaurants we recommend:

St. Thomas Mafolie view

Jen’s Island Cafe (St. Thomas) Amazing curries and other Indian dishes. Many vegan options. Highly recommend for a casual lunch while strolling through the picturesque town of Charlotte Amalie.

Mafolie Restaurant (St. Thomas) The food is delicious Caribbean cuisine with many plant-based options. The restaurant is located cliffside and the view is beyond outstanding.

ZoZo’s (St. John) Simply the best restaurant in St. John. Terrific Italian dishes with  an emphasis on fresh seafood and vegetables.

Conclusion: The USVI is a fabulous place to unwind and enjoy nature. The local people are so friendly and the weather can’t be beat. And the beaches…..they have the most beautiful soft, white sand and are lush with palm trees. Many restaurants offer delicious local produce and fresh-caught seafood. What more could you want when you need a little R and R? We highly recommend this travel destination.

Lisa Stollman, MA, RDN, CDE, CDN is an award-winning Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who is passionate about helping people transform their lives with optimal nutrition. She received the 2015 Outstanding Dietitian of The Year from the New York Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Lisa is an entrepreneur, food influencer, speaker, private practitioner, and writer. She consults with food startups and restaurants to help put health on the menu. Lisa is the author of the ebook The Trim Traveler: How to Eat Healthy and Stay Fit While Traveling Abroad (Nirvana Press 2014) and The Teen Eating Manifesto (Nirvana Press 2012). In her private practice she specializes in teen and adult weight management and diabetes. Lisa received her two degrees in Nutrition from New York University. She consults with clients in Huntington, New York, on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and virtually. To find out more about Lisa or to book an appointment, please visit here.

Eating Well While Traveling on a Budget

Paris view

The day has finally arrived and tomorrow you leave for the vacation you’ve been planning for months.  Of course you have planned everything, including your budget.  You’ve accounted for plane tickets, hotel accommodation, and excursion costs, but did you allow proper food expenses?  And how are you going to eat healthy while staying on budget?

It can be very easy to underestimate how much you will actually spend on food and beverages while away from home, but there are ways to save a little extra in your bank account while keeping the dreaded vacation weight off.  If you dine out frequently, it is easier to put less nutritious food in your body more often than you would otherwise.  However, it is important to not miss out on trying traditional foods of that region. That is part of the fun of traveling, right?  There are plenty of ways to make sure that you eat healthy and not break your bank while you’re at it.  Plan ahead and consider these tips to eat healthy while traveling on a budget!


In Transit:

  • Pack some snacks! Plan ahead and bring a few nutritious items that are easy to pack such as fruit, almonds, or granola bars.  It might even prevent you from stopping at the local gas station for that pop and bag of chips you’ve been thinking about.  Your wallet and body will thank you.
  • Check out the cooler section. The cooler has nutritious options such as veggie snack packs, yogurt, and fruit cups, which are great grab-and-go choices that won’t cost much or add to your waist line and will keep you full until the next stop.



On Location:

  • Check if breakfast is included in your accommodation or offered at a low cost. If it is, take advantage.  A bonus is that there are usually foods specific to the region available as well as more classic but healthy options like fruit, yogurt, and cereal.
  • Depending where you are traveling to, you may not have access to a refrigerator. Having access to a refrigerator can be wonderful for your budget.  This allows you to purchase food from a grocery store and actually store extras.  Also, if you dine in a restaurant, you can save half of your meal for the next day.  This will not only stretch your budget a little farther but also controls portion sizes.  Ask your hotel if they can supply you with a room refrigerator.
  • Visit local grocery stores or produce stands. This will allow you to purchase nutritious foods at a lower price, saving you money from restaurant dining. If you have access to a kitchen while traveling, cook some of your meals. If you only have a refrigerator, stock up on sandwich ingredients and prepare some of you lunches. From personal experience, this is my favorite way to save money while traveling. You can eat some healthy meals and avoid continuous restaurant eating, since you can control whats going into your meal, enjoy the local produce,  and use healthy cooking/prep methods.

Although you may be on a budget, it does not mean that you can’t eat healthfully while traveling.  With a little planning, you can limit your food spending while eating delicious and healthy meals. Bon voyage!

Lisa Stollman, MA, RDN, CDE, CDN is the author of the ebook The Trim Traveler: How to Eat Healthy and Stay Fit While Traveling Abroad (Nirvana Press 2014) and The Teen Eating Manifesto (Nirvana Press 2012). She is a nationally-recognized Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with a specialty in teen and adult weight management and diabetes. Lisa received her B.S. in Food and Nutrition and her M.A. in Clinical Nutrition from New York University. She consults with clients in Huntington, New York and on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Special thanks to the fabulous writing contributions of nutrition intern, Emily Pearson. To find out more about Lisa or to book an appointment, please visit here.