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!
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or for more info: www.lisastollmanrd.com. This blog was written by my nutrition blogger intern and world traveler Nikki Nies.
Following a vegetarian, vegan or plant-based lifestyle has become extremely popular in today’s culture. Whether for health, sustainability of the planet or animal rights, the number of people adapting a plant-based diet is at an all time high. If you are a vegetarian, it is usually not difficult to consume a nutritious diet as you can omit the meat in restaurants, but still include dairy foods, such as milk, cheese and yogurt and eggs. If you adhere to a vegan diet, it can be a little tricky to meet your nutritional needs, especially when traveling, without some careful planning. People that are vegan do not consume any foods derived from animals. That means no meat, dairy or eggs. Many vegans also exclude honey from their diets.
If you follow a vegan diet and enjoy eating in restaurants, you may become familiar with the various establishments in your locale that offer vegan menu options or will oblige special requests and modify dishes to meet your needs. However, when you travel abroad you may find it difficult to find restaurants that will satisfy your vegan preferences. Google websites for vegan restaurants where you are traveling. You should find this quite helpful. Also be aware that you can order a vegan or vegetarian meal for your flight, but do so at least 48 hours in advance. You should be able to do this on the airline’s website.
If you follow a vegan diet exclusively, you should be aware that there are a handful of nutrients that you need to pay special attention to so you don’t develop a deficiency. These nutrients include protein, Vitamin B12, zinc, iron and calcium. Almost all foods except for alcohol, fruit, sugar, and fat provide some protein.
Protein’s role in the diet is to repair cells and make new ones. Protein is also important for growth and development in children, teens, and pregnant women.Vegan protein sources include: lentils, chickpeas, tofu, peas, peanut and other nut butters, soy milk and protein-fortified almond milk, almonds and other nuts, peas, seitan (wheat gluten), edamame and tempeh.
Vitamin B12 is required for the formation red blood cells, neurological function, and DNA synthesis. Vitamin B12 is predominately found in animal foods. It can be difficult to get sufficient amounts from plant-based foods. If you are traveling, it may be wise to bring a package of Red Star nutritional yeast that you can add to foods for protein and Vitamin B12. Two tablespoons of nutritional yeast contains only 45 calories, but has 6 grams of protein and 100% of the RDA for Vitamin B12. If you bring a small container of it to restaurants, you can add it to soups, pasta, rice and stews.
Zinc has many important functions in the body. It’s needed to maintain the body’s immune system. Zinc is also required for cell division, cell growth, wound healing and the digestion of carbohydrates. Zinc is also essential for both smell and taste. During pregnancy, infancy, and childhood the body needs zinc to grow and develop properly. Plant-based food sources of zinc include white beans, kidney beans, and chickpeas, zinc-fortified breakfast cereals, wheat germ and pumpkin seeds. While traveling, try to order entrees which include beans when dining in restaurants.
Iron’s role in the body is to carry oxygen to all of the cells. Iron sources for vegetarians and vegans include iron-fortified breakfast cereals, spinach, kidney beans, black-eyed peas, lentils, turnip greens, molasses, whole wheat breads, peas, and some dried fruits (dried apricots, prunes, raisins). For vegetarians, egg yolk is also a good source of iron.
Calcium is the most plentiful mineral found in the human body. The majority of calcium is found in the teeth and bones. Nerve cells, body tissues, blood, and other body fluids contain the rest of the calcium. In addition to building strong bones and teeth, calcium also helps blood to clot, sends and receives nerve signals, and maintains a normal heartbeat. Calcium food sources for vegans include calcium-fortified soymilk, calcium-fortified breakfast cereals and orange juice, almonds, tofu made with calcium sulfate, and dark-green leafy vegetables, including broccoli, collard, turnip and mustard greens, bok choy. Vegetarians can get adequate calcium from milk, cheese and yogurt.
If you are a vegan and traveling, don’t forget to bring a multiple vitamin/mineral supplement that is 100% of the Daily Value (DV). Taking a daily multiple vitamin/mineral supplement that provides sufficient amounts of Vitamin B12, calcium, zinc and iron is a good way to ensure adequate nutrition while you travel.
Some helpful tips for ordering vegan meals in restaurants abroad include:
1. If the restaurant doesn’t have a vegan option, request a vegetable plate.
If there is a salad that includes meat or cheese, and no vegan option, request that the meal and cheese be omitted. Ask for beans and/or avocado to be added.
2. Bring packets of oatmeal, bags of nuts and vegan protein bars from home when you travel.
3. Download Happy Cow, the free app for iPhone, to find vegetarian and vegan restaurants around the globe.
Lisa Stollman, MA, RDN, CDE, CDN is the author of the new 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. To find out more about Lisa or to book an appointment, please visit: http://www.lisastollmanrd.com
If you’ve had the pleasure to visit this beautiful island nestled in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Rhode Island and Massachusetts, it’s an experience you’ll never forget. However, If you never chose this place as a vacation destination, you may want to rethink. Martha’s Vineyard is home to many gorgeous beaches and quaint towns, including Edgartown, Oak Bluffs, Chilmark and Vineyard Haven. Each town has its’ own New England flavor that makes it unique. And of course like many vacation spots, dining out is all part of the whole vacation relaxation package. Which is great if you don’t like to cook(!), but can add some girth to your waistline. Eating three meals daily in restaurants can definitely up the calories, so making wise food choices while you are vacationing will keep you feeling great (to look up calories–if you are so inclined, try the Calorie King app (free for iPhone). You want to enjoy meals that will fuel you up, but not add on the pounds or slow you down. Making smart food choices will you help you to return home with souvenirs, not unwanted extra pounds. In addition, you want to stay active while you’re away. Being active will not only help you to feel great but will also help you manage your weight while you vacation.
It’s important to have energy to hike, bike, swim and just walk throughout the towns. Having at least an hour of daily activity will keep you energized and relaxed as you explore new surroundings. Purchase a Jawbone or Fitbit pedometer before you leave home so you can track your daily activity.
Here are some healthy eating tips along with restaurant suggestions which offer healthy meals that will keep you well-fueled.
5 Tips for Making Healthy Food Choices on Martha’s Vineyard
1. Like many islands that have great seafood, fresh fish is a big part of many restaurant menus on Martha’s Vineyard. However many menus also are rich in fried dishes. For a healthy choice, order fish grilled instead of fried. Or go vegetarian and opt for a veggie burger. In place of the accompanying French fries, ask for a side salad, vegetable or cole slaw.
2. If the portions are large, order a side salad and an appetizer. Or have a salad as an entree. Be wary of additions, such as cheese and bacon. Have only one or ask for them to both be deleted. Ask for salad dressing on the side.
3. If you go out for breakfast, skip the home fries and bagel, and opt for whole grain toast. An omelette with vegetables will provide you with a good source of protein and fiber. Or order plain yogurt with fresh fruit for a calcium and Vitamin C boost.
4. For lunch, sandwiches which include vegetables and salads, as long as they aren’t laden with meat and cheese, are a healthy choice. Ask for whole grain bread instead of the refined white roll. Good sandwich choices include grilled fish or chicken with lettuce and tomato or hummus with vegetables. If French fries are part of the meal, ask for a side salad instead.
5. The best beverages to accompany your meal include water, seltzer, unsweetened iced tea and tomato juice. Though alcohol is commonly chosen while on vacation, keep in mind that alcoholic drinks tend to be high in calories and can increase your hunger. So go slow. Start you meal off with a non-alcoholic beverage such as a Virgin Mary or seltzer with lemon. If you desire a glass of wine, etc., wait until your meal is served to order your beverage. You should find you drink less alcohol when you heed this tactic.
Restaurant Suggestions: Each of these restaurants offer vegetable-based dishes and amazing salads, in addition to meat, fish and chicken. I highly recommend all of them!
The Port Hunter: great food and live music
The Atlantic: recommend for lunch or dinner
Among the Flowers: great for breakfast
Oak Bluffs The Lookout Tavern : beautiful view with great food, sushi too!
Nancy’s Snack Bar: excellent fish and Mediterranean food
Vineyard Haven The Black Dog Grill: great fish dishes, salads and veggie burgers
Chilmark The Chilmark Tavern: pricey but excellent local food that’s well-prepared
Lisa Stollman is the author of the new ebook The Trim Traveler: How to Eat Healthy and Stay Fit While Traveling Abroad (Nirvana Press June 2014) and The Teen Eating Manifesto: The Ten Essential Steps to Losing Weight, Looking Great and Getting Healthy (Nirvana Press 2012). She is the founder of Lisa Stollman Nutrition with offices in Huntington, New York and on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Find out more about Lisa at www.lisastollmanrd.com.
If you have prediabetes or diabetes (either Type 1 or 2), you most likely are aware that you can eat what you like as long as you monitor your carbohydrate intake. Counting carbohydrates as part of a healthy meal plan will help you control your blood glucose. When you travel abroad you should try to maintain a similar healthy eating plan as you do at home. Consuming a diet that emphasizes healthy whole foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, low fat dairy or nondairy alternatives, lean protein foods (animal or plant-based), a variety of whole grains and healthy fats is a healthy plan that is beneficial for everyone, including those with prediabetes or diabetes.
Meeting with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, before you leave if you haven’t already, is a smart investment in your health as he/she can provide medical nutrition therapy, as well as create a personalized meal plan tailored to your particular health needs.
While you travel and dine abroad, try to eat healthy so you will feel well. Take the time to get at least an hour of exercise daily (with your physician’s approval if needed). And, yes, walking in the Louvre counts! Walking when you travel is a great way to see new sights plus get a nice workout at the same time. Bring a pedometer with you when you travel so you can track your steps. If you are in good physical shape, aim for 10,000 steps per day (which is approximately five miles).
Here are ten tips to help you stay healthy abroad whether you have prediabetes or diabetes (Type 1 or 2):
1. Make at lease half of your plate fruits and/or vegetables at lunch and dinner.
2. Instead of sweet pastries for breakfast, opt for plain yogurt with nuts and fresh fruit or a veggie omelette and whole grain toast. 3. Avoid sweetened beverages. Drink water, sparkling water, tea or coffee instead.
4. Limit refined breads and cereals whenever possible. Ask for whole grain breads and cereal when available.
5. For lunch, try a sandwich and a side salad or have a large salad as an entree.
6. Going out for dinner? Grilled fish or chicken with sautéed vegetables and salad is always a great choice. So is an entree salad with either a vegetarian protein such as beans, nuts or tofu, or grilled shrimp or chicken.
7. If you want dessert, fresh fruit is the best choice. But if it’s a rich dessert that grabs your eye, ask for a couple spoons and share with your companions.
8. Make sure to get at least an hour of exercise daily. Exercise will help control your blood glucose and manage your weight as you enjoy your journey, taking in the new sights, culture and flavor of new foods.
9. Visit local food markets to stock up on fruits, vegetables, olives and nuts to have available for snacks.
10. Check your blood glucose and adjust your food and/or medication accordingly so you can get the most out of your time away.
For additional tips on traveling abroad and adjusting insulin, visit this link http://www.diabetesforecast.org/2013/jun/35-top-tips-for-travel-with-diabetes.html
Lisa Stollman, MA, RDN, CDE, CDN is the author of the new 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. To find out more about Lisa or to book an appointment, please visit: http://www.lisastollmanrd.com
We are thrilled to launch our new blog: The Trim Traveler. This is the place to help you feel great and stay in shape as you travel the world. Visit here for cutting-edge tips on how to eat healthy in restaurants and make smart food choices around the globe. Travel with us as we review healthy restaurants and local cultural foods, all the while keeping you feeling good, physically fit and healthy. From New York City and Seattle to Paris and Israel, The Trim Traveler will cover it all. If you have special dietary needs, whether it’s diabetes, celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, vegan, low sodium, etc., we will cover it here with science-based tips that will keep you healthy as you savor new cuisines. Our new ebook The Trim Traveler: How to Eat Healthy and Stay Fit While Traveling Abroad will launch in June and will be available on Amazon. Stay posted for the launch date. We invite you now to subscribe to The Trim Traveler for weekly postings on eating healthy at various destinations. Bon Voyage!