Staying healthy while on vacation

I love traveling. I especially love an extended weekend getaway. I find shorter trips more manageable and typically more enjoyable. My biggest pet peeve about traveling is deviating from my routine. That seems to be one of the easiest ways for me to derail any progress and I feel out of sorts for days after returning. So I have a few tricks which help make trips less stressful. For starters I load up on water before getting to security. Another helpful idea is to bring a refillable water bottle and get water after passing through security. I always bring healthy snacks- even if it is a short trip. Being caught empty handed could result in buying snacks on the run which are rarely healthy. My normal snacks are high fiber, high protein granola bars, a piece of fruit, and some homemade trail mix. If it is a longer trip, say 4+ hours on the plane, I pack a complete meal plus 2 snacks. For Thursday’s flight, I packed a fiber plus bar, a turkey wrap, 1 orange, 1 package (small) of goldfish, 1banana and 1 chocolate. Having the variety keeps me from inhaling each snack the attendants offer. Some other options are mints and hard candies – but don’t crunch on the first bite! By keeping a few on hand you can keep your mouth occupied while consuming minimal calories.

Once you get to your destination the temptations are endless. I always try to stay somewhere with a free continental breakfast, a refrigerator and a microwave in the room. Making a quick stop at the grocery store will serve you well. I like to pick up some waters, 2 pieces of fruit for each day I am away from home and some granola bars and a couple single serving soups. Not only will you save money but calories as well – by getting healthy balance you will be less likely to overeat. Take as many opportunities as possible to keep active on vacation – even if it isn’t your normal exercise routine. This is a good time to try something different. Yoga classes maybe, or hiking. Plan this part of your trip ahead of time so you can be prepared. Get in lots of walking too.

But let’s be realistic. It is almost guaranteed that you will eat out on vacation. So the easiest way to decide what to have is treat each meal for what it is. If you are eating out simply because someone doesn’t want to cook , or because you are meeting up with a friend, eat as you would if you were cooking. If it is a special occasion (a wedding, a birthday, etc) and you feel like celebrating with food then have what you will but use your hunger signals to avoid going overboard. Remember that health is the goal, not depravation or perfection. Keep your portion sizes reasonable and  take the time to enjoy each bite and your company.

Some planning and careful attention to your body’s needs is all you need to keep vacations fun and healthy.



Let’s talk about sleep.

There are 5 stages of sleep, creatively called stages 1-5.  The first stage of sleep is when we feel ourselves start to fall asleep. The second stage is when our heart rate slows and our body temperature lowers. During stages 3 and 4 are the ‘deep sleep’ stages which makes up ‘non-Rapid Eye Movement’ sleep. The NREM happens in cycles of 5-15 minutes. Stage 5 is the all famous REM sleep. During REM sleep there is eye movement and minor twitching, but the rest of the body is paralyzed. It is normal for a person to have 5 REM intervals each night.

Many people have problems sleeping including insomnia and restless leg syndrome. Stress, anxiety and depression can affect the quality and amount of a person’s sleep. While the exact purpose of sleep is not known, we know that it is imperative to get adequate sleep nightly for peak performance. When you go without sleep you can’t concentrate, you have delayed reactions, a weakened immune system and an aggressive attitude.

Quality of sleep can be improved many different ways: medications, supplements, naps, proper sleep positions, healthy sleep rituals. Medications and supplements should be the last resort to solving a sleeping problem. Common ailments such as insomnia and stress/anxiety-related insomnia can be helped by sleep rituals. What constitutes a sleep ritual? Sleeping in a dark and quiet environment. Keeping a set daily sleep schedule. Regular exercise. A well balanced diet.

The body is a very impressive machine but it requires lots of care and attention to run without a hitch. Eat well, exercise regularly, get enough sleep and you will be on your way to a productive day!

Fun Sleep Facts

  • Before Thomas Edison’s invention of the light bulb, people slept an average of 10 hours a night; today Americans average 6.9 hours of sleep on a weeknight and 7.5 hours per night on weekends
  • Approximately 70 million people in the United States have a sleep problem.
  • The record for the longest period without sleep is 18 days, 21 hours, 40 minutes.
  • The “natural alarm clock” which enables some people to wake up about when they want to is contributed to a burst of the stress hormone adrenocorticotropin.

Today’s Food Journal

Breakfast: 1 lg banana, 1 granola bar, 2c tea

Lunch: 1/2c brown rice, 1/2 chicken breast, 1/2c broccoli, 1 chocolate, 1 can diet coke

Dinner: ‘pasta ponza’ see recipe below, 1 can diet coke, light ice cream bar

Snacks: 1 apple, 2c light popcorn, 2T cashews

Pasta Ponza (adapted from Giada De Laurentiis)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray an 8 by 8-inch glass baking dish with nonstick spray. Set aside. Place 4c mixed raw vegetables1/4c capers1/2 T olive oil1/2 t salt, and 1/4 t pepper in the prepared baking dish. Toss to coat. Sprinkle1/4c breadcrumbs over the vegetable mixture. Drizzle the top with 1t olive oil and bake for
30 to 35 minutes until the top is golden. Cool for 5 minutes. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add 1lb ziti pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and reserve about 1c of the pasta water. Place the cooked pasta in a large serving bowl. Spoon the vegetable mixture onto the pasta. Add 1/4c grated parmesan cheese and toss well. Thin out the sauce with a little pasta water, if needed.
Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley and serve immediately. Serves 6

— I added 4 chicken sausage links and used whole wheat pasta. This would be perfect served with a simple green salad and a light vinaigrette. Points Plus: 6



Party Mix

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Spray large shallow baking pan with nonstick spray. Put 1c raw almonds, 1c raw walnutsand 1c raw cashews on the baking pan. Roast nuts until lightly browned, about 5 minutes, let cool. Whisk 1 egg white in a large bowl until foamy. Stir in 3T honey, 1T Worcestershire sauce and 2t light margarine. Add
in 2c whole grain Total1c Fiber One (original cereal), and toasted nuts. Spread the mixture evenly onto the baking sheet (you may need to apply more nonstick spray). Bake, stirring occasionally, for 30-40 minutes (I rotate the
baking sheet every 10 minutes). Note: serving size is 1/2c. Points Plus: 4

Spiced Cocktail Nuts (adapted from Tartine)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or coat with nonstick spray. Coarsely chop the leaves of 3 springs of fresh thyme and 2 springs of fresh rosemary. In a large bowl, combine the thyme, rosemary, 2T light corn syrup1T+2t cayenne pepper and 1T salt and 2t black pepper (make sure this is thoroughly combined, you may need to add upto 2T water). Add 2/3c raw almonds2/3c raw cashews2/3c pumpkin seeds and 5 1/3c raw peanuts and mix thoroughly. Spread the nuts evenly on the prepared baking sheet. Roast the nuts (~15 minutes), stirring
multiple times and rotating the baking sheet during cooking time. Let cool. Serving size: 1/2c ~ 30 servings Points Plus: 6

Slip and fall

Welcome!! This project is about a year in the making, and I have great hopes for it.  The nutrition world can be dizzying at times so I will shed some light on research, lifestyle books, current trends and general healthy eating. I hope to simplify this information for you using the knowledge I have learned. This page will provide insight and strategies for a healthy relationship with food. There will be exercise information as well because a healthy and happy life must include both of these elements. Feel free to follow along and ask any questions you may have!!

My third New Year’s Day with Carver and it was even better than the previous two. We had a very nice day lounging around the apartment. We didn’t have to do very much today because we were very productive during the last two days of 2010: cooking a batch of chili and cookies and cleaning the apartment. Having healthy quick fix meals, leftovers and snacks in the apartment makes a huge difference. Another thing that works wonders at reducing my stress level- a clean apartment. For me it doesn’t have to be OCD-clean, but surfaces dusted, counters/tables cleaned, you know… the basics.

While reflecting on 2010, I had focused on my shortcomings and what I should have done or could have done better. I’m a perfectionist at heart, a very dangerous disposition for someone like me who is far from perfect. Carver sat quietly listening to me groan feeling sorry for myself and said, “People slip and fall…” to which I just stared. Dumbfounded. He does that to me sometimes, crashes my pity party with some bit of wisdom bordering on optimism… So I am conceding his point… We slip and fall and then there are two options as you know: Stand up or stay down. So take the New Year’s energy and milk it for all you can… STAND and keep working toward your goals, no matter how far away you feel.

Today’s Food Journal

Breakfast: 1c oatmeal, 1T dried cranberries, 1t shredded coconut

Lunch: 3/4c turkey chili, 1T sour cream, 2 small chocolate chip cookies, 1 diet coke

Dinner: 1c whole wheat pasta, 1/2c mushrooms, 1/4c artichoke hearts, 1/2c pasta sauce, 1/2 garlic ciabatta, 1 glass champagne

Snacks: 1 medium banana, 1/4 orange, 1c black tea, 2 dark chocolate squares, 1 apple