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.

Summer Travels: Staying Trim On A Beach Vacation


Making arrangements and reservations for vacation can be anything but relaxing. Sometimes we need a vacation from a vacation, as all the planning is exhausting. Rather than eliminating vacation from your schedule, a relaxing beach holiday where you’re able to lounge and recharge is sometimes what is most needed. Yet, before you jet off to the beach, make sure to use some of the below tips to stay trim and healthy while away. With so many restaurants serving large portions, finishing all that’s on our plates and justifying frequent splurges of higher calorie menu selections, moderation of meals is definitely needed to stay trim while vacationing at the beach. Trust me—-you’ll be much happier when you return home.

Useful Travel Tips:

• Instead of equating dining out while on vacation as an opportunity for carte blanche, remove your indulgences from solely food and instead focus on indulging in a mystery book, massage or quality time with the family. When you redirect your indulgences to other great experiences in life, you will be less likely to overindulge in calories!
• Order half sized portions, appetizers, share entrees or opt to take leftovers home for tomorrow’s meal.
• Don’t be afraid to ask to ‘have it your way.” Restaurants are more accustomed to guests requesting modifications to dishes. For example, it’s not unheard of to ask for dressings, sauces and/or gravies on the side or for diners to ask for part of the meal “doggy bagged.” You may also find that many restaurants will prepare your sandwich on whole grain bread or, if vegan, add avocado or chiickpeas to your salad in place of the cheese. As long as the restaurant has the requested items on hand, you’d be surprised what modifications can be made.
• Aim to “eat in” once a day! Staying in for breakfast, brown bagging your lunch for the beach or eating last night’s doggy bag can save calories and dollars. Bringing along some low sugar oatmeal, cereal and/or breakfast bars, and peanut butter can do the trick. Head to the local farmer’s market or grocery store to keep fresh fruit and vegetables on hand for breakfast, lunch, and snacks.
• Sample rich foods in “moderation” instead of feasting. Keeping calorie-laden foods to a small portion once a day will allow you to enjoy the “local” food while maintaining your desired weight.
• Take advantage of surroundings and go for a morning run on the beach or an afternoon hike. Take every opportunity to sightsee via walking.
• The mini bar in room is the start of many guilty extra snacks and drinks! Your wallet and waistline will thank you if you hide the key!
• As you know, traveling can dehydrate you. Add a few days in the sun and water requirements increase exorbitantly. If you can, keep ice cold bottles of water stocked in your fridge and have some water on hand wherever you go. Also, keep the triple digit calorie drinks at bay with unsweetened hot or cold tea, coffee, sparkling water, club soda or by adding some lemon or lime to ice water. Enjoying a drink or two is expected, but keep in mind that each alcoholic drink can add an extra 150-450 calories and added sugar.
• Challenge yourself to 5 a Day. Every day, make every effort to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables. You won’t only meet your daily fruits and vegetables quota, but you will feel more satisfied with the added fiber.
• Go easy on the condiments. Half of the grams of fat in Arby’s Southwest Chicken Wrap or Ultimate BLT Wrap comes from the ranch sauce or mayo. Limit intake of creamy sauces or soups, opting for ketchup, marinara, mustard or BBQ sauce, which tend to be about 25 calories per tablespoon.
• Take advantage of the abundant amounts of seafood in the nearby ocean. Seafood is a delectable way to get your weekly dose of fish that are high in omega 3 fatty acids. Make sure to order grilled or non-buttered fish as they are lower in fat and calories than the fried or battered dishes.

For your next beach trip, keep these tips in mind so you can have a little cake and eat some fruits and vegetables, too.

Lisa Stollman, MA, RDN, CDE, CDN was recently honored as the 2015 Outstanding Dietitian of the Year by the New York Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Her passions include traveling the world and experiencing new foods and cultures. She 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: The Ten Essential Steps to Losing Weight, Looking Great and Getting Healthy (Nirvana Press 2012)..  Lisa maintains a nutrition practice in NYC and Huntington, Long Island. For more info on Lisa or to schedule a consultation, visit here. Special thanks to Nikki Nies for her contributions in writing this blogpost.