Vacation Tips: Encouraging Your Kids To Eat Healthfully

old orchard beach, maine

While it may be hard enough to get ourselves to maintain a healthy diet while on vacation, ensuring that our children stick to one can be quite the challenge. It is common for children to consume lots of processed snacks and restaurant comfort foods while on vacation. However, with some planning and creativity, a vacation can easily turn into a learning experience for kids to try new foods and gain an understanding of what healthy options they can choose from when they are away from home.

Follow these tips to promote a healthy family vacation:

  • Plan ahead. Look up restaurants online ahead of time and plan where you are going to eat. Going to restaurants that you know offer healthy options is more beneficial than driving around looking for places to eat.
  • Limit soda intake. Order water for everyone at the table. To make it more interesting, you can ask for lemon and lime slices on the side for kids to add to their glasses to make their own infused water. By allowing them to create their own drinks, they may be more encouraged to drink more water.
  • Pack your own travel snacks. Provide options for your children so they do not feel restricted with only one kind of snack. Giving them the power to choose between healthy snacks will give them more of a sense of satisfaction with the snacks you have provided.
  • If you have to stop somewhere to buy snacks, pick a few healthier options like nuts, fresh fruit, popcorn, and whole grain pretzels for them to choose from. That way, they won’t head straight for the potato chips, but will still be happy to have the opportunity to choose which snacks they would prefer.
  • Create some ground rules. Maybe a rule you set is that your children have one treat per day. Making the treat something specific to the locale you are in (like clam chowder bread bowls in San Francisco) makes the treat particularly special and not something they will be able to desire daily. Perhaps the rule could be ‘one sweet drink per day’. Instead of water, your children may be able to order a small serving of chocolate milk or juice during one meal. Setting up rules ahead of time lets your children know what to expect so they are not surprised if you put limits on what they are allowed to order.
  • Focus on new foods. Check out the lacl cuisine before you get to your destination. Children are more open to trying new foods while they are visiting new locations. Introducing them to new healthy foods (like kale or salmon) while on vacation can instill a lasting preference for those foods later on.

Family vacations are about enjoying time spent with loved ones and having fun. Though it won’t hurt to have a treat once in a while, setting good guidelines and examples for your children can instill good habits, whether they are on the beach or at home.

Lisa Stollman, MA, RDN, CDE, CDN was recently honored as the The 2015 Outstanding Dietitian of The Year by The New York Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She is a speaker, blogger, entrepreneur and innovator who is passionate about spreading the message of healthy eating for optimal health. To help restaurants improve upon menu choices and food preparation, Lisa recently founded Eat Well Restaurant Nutrition where she collaborates with chefs to get healthy meals on the table. She is the author of the “The Trim Traveler: How to Eat Healthy and Stay Fit While Traveling Abroad,” (Nirvana Press 2014) and the widely-acclaimed “The Teen Eating Manifesto: The Ten Essential Steps to Losing Weight, Looking Great and Getting Healthy,” (Nirvana Press 2012). In her private practice, with offices in Huntington, NY and the Upper East Side of Manhattan, Lisa specializes in weight managment, travel nutrition and diabetes for teens and adults. For more info, contact Lisa via email or visit here. Special thanks to Social Media Intern Anita Renwick for writing this blog.

Stay Trim and Eat Healthy in China

china_food

To truly immerse yourself in a culture, especially one that is far removed from your ow,n is the true definition of traveling. Whether you travel to the exhilarating Machu Pichu or soak up the rays in Turks & Caicos, there’s one factor in vacation destinations that can’t be ignored: the food. Depending on one’s taste buds and food preferences, that can dictate travel excursions. No matter how much you factor in food, China should definitely be at the top of your list of travel destinations!

You should head to China with a few ideas of where you want to go and how to best enjoy the food. Although making healthy food choices when traveling is probably not on your radar, you don’t want to end up feeling sick  when you are away. You want to feel GREAT so you can enjoy your experience. So let’s review Chinese cuisine!

Chinese soup

Here are some smart tips for healthy eating in China:
1. Limit fried foods.
2. Choose more vegetable dishes.
3. Go easy on refined carbohydrates: rice, noodles, dumplings, and sticky buns
4. Eat with chopsticks. Not only will it slow down intake, but locals will be more likely to give you menu and meal suggestions when they see you immersing in the culture.
5. Try a bit of everything, but don’t eat everything. Having a couple bites can help limit overindulging while getting the exposure to different flavors.
6. Cold beverages are deemed harmful to digestion of hot foods, so hot tea or hot water are served with meals. Tea is believed to help with the digestion of greasy foods.
7. Food is often prepared and served on small plates, “family style.” Be ready for direct pick-up and communal eating.

China-meal

While China can be divided into 57 cuisine regions, below are four of the more popular regions:
Szechuan (Sichuan): known for spicy, hot flavor; uses a great mixture of poultry, pork, beef, fish, vegetables, tofu in combination with pepper and chili; fast frying is most commonly used method
Cantonese: characterized by tender, slightly sweet taste; sauces are often light and mellow, including hoisin, oyster, plum and sweet and sour sauce; often see spring onions, sugar, salt, rice wine, corn starch, vinegar and sesame oil used; garlic can be heavily used; prefer stewing, sautéing or braising food, which helps to preserve the flavor
Hunan: “land of fish and rice”; fresh vegetables cooked “al dente”; favors steaming, stir frying, smoking and sautéing; special seasonings include soy sauce, tea seed oil, Chinese red pepper, fennel and cassia bark and spicy oil
Jiangsu: moderate saltiness and sweetness; places emphasis on the making of soups; abundant in freshwater fish and seafood from the Yangtze River and Yellow Sea

More to know about Chinese meals:
Desserts are less common, with sweet foods introduced during meal. For example, basi fruit and sizzling sugar-syrup coated fruits are eaten with other savory foods.
If dessert is served at the end of the meal, often times it is fresh fruit.
Soup is often served at the end of the meal to satiate appetite.

For any of you that have traveled to China, what other tips can you share? It’s hard to give specific “restaurant recommendations” as a lot of the great food is on the street kiosks and depending on what flavors you’re looking to try! Remember, when traveling, go in with an open mind and have fun! What regional cuisines are “must eats” for you?

Lisa Stollman, MA, RDN, CDE, CDN is the author of the new e-book The Trim Traveler: How to Eat Healthy and Stay Fit While Traveling Abroad (Nirvana Press 2014) and the widely-acclaimed book The Teen Eating Manifesto: The Ten Essential Steps to Losing Weight, Looking Great and Getting Healthy (Nirvana Press 2012). Lisa is a nutrition specialist in travel nutrition, weight management and diabetes for teens and adults. She is in private practice with offices in Huntington, NY and the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Contact Lisa at eatwellrd@yahoo.com or for more info: www.lisastollmanrd.com. This blog was written by my nutrition blogger intern and world traveler Nikki Nies.