Healthy Eating While Vacationing

By: Jackie Amende, MS, RDN, LD, University of Idaho FCS Extension Educator

If you are road tripping or traveling abroad to a new and exciting place, you can still enjoy all the fun foods that come with traveling without compromising your healthful eating plan. Here are some tips for your upcoming summer vacation:

  • Focus on portion sizes. You don’t have to avoid those new and exciting foods that come with traveling. Share large food portions with your travel partner or go with the small size for just yourself.
  • Keep your regular meal times on vacation. It can be easy to graze on food all day while on vacation but try to stick with your usual eating pattern.
  • Watch what you’re drinking. Focus on water or other unsweetened beverages. Skip the sweetened and various adult beverages which are often loaded with unnecessary calories.
  • Pack non-perishable foods with you. Dried fruit, nuts, and pretzels make for relatively healthy snacks that are nutrient-rich. These non-perishable foods are perfect for a quick snack to satisfy you until your next scheduled meal time.
  • If you are road tripping, pack a cooler with fresh pre-cut vegetables and fruits. Try slicing some bell peppers and cutting up some celery sticks. In addition, keep whole fruit or sliced fruit ready to go.
  • Be physically active! Get outside and walk to enjoy the sites where you are vacationing. If you are on a road trip, schedule frequent stops where you can get out, stretch your legs, and take a short walk.

With these healthful eating tips, food safety is still a priority, especially if you’re road tripping. Bringing perishable foods with you like meats and cheeses may cause some unwanted foodborne illnesses if these items are not stored properly. Don’t store perishable foods unrefrigerated for longer than 2 hours. If stored in a cooler, make sure coolers are 40 degrees or cooler. In addition, don’t leave your cooler directly in the sun or in the trunk of your car on road trips. Putting the cooler in the backseat of the car will generally be cooler than the trunk. Finally, keep hand sanitizer or moist towelettes with you if you don’t have access to a restroom to wash your hands before and after eating. Now, enjoy your trip!

Want to learn more about healthy eating and/or food safety? University of Idaho Extension teaches many classes and programs in the area, like Eating Healthy on a Budget, Nutrition for Healthy Aging, Diabetes Prevention Program, Dining with Diabetes, and more. Check out the Canyon County UI Extension website at https://www.uidaho.edu/extension/county/canyon/family-consumer or call 208-459-6003 for more information.

Get your sparkle on!

Holiday time can bring out the best – and the worst – in people. Don’t let the stress and hub-bub dull your attitude. Try these things to keep your sparkle on!

Wage a little hope.

Why bother? Because hope is all about possibility. Hope feeds your energy, creativity, and problem solving skills; it affects your sense of happiness and optimism. Hope recognizes that everyone and everything matters. It makes life worth living. That’s why you should bother. When hope gets damaged, it has a ripple effect. It can knock you out of equilibrium with your world, with your existence. It’s important to regain your balance and reconnect with a hopeful life. How, you ask?
  • Take care of your health through good nutrition, sleep, physical activity
  • Do a hope audit; know what makes you hopeful and connect with it
  • Cultivate hopeful relationships; surround yourself with hopeful people
  • Learn to forgive
  • Find resilience through meditation, breathing/relaxation exercises
  • Look for ways to make hopefulness tangible in your daily life
  • Reconnect with nature
  • Move through your fears
  • Be courageous
  • Set tangible goals that help you move beyond barriers
  • Remember, in time the things that are pulling you down will pass

Can this just be over?

Voting stress. Enough said. Most of us would probably agree that the last year has been fraught with “political stress“. As we get closer to election day, stress heightens, blood pressures rise, and nerves are on edge. Election talk seems to permeate every corner from the home and office to social media to neighborhood talk. In some cases, election talk creates rifts between family members and friends. It can become one hot mess. Here are some tips to keep you sane…
  • Educate yourself on the candidates
  • Accept that we all have a right to our opinion
  • Accept that you probably will not change another person’s opinion
  • Realize that your opinion may be just as “objectionable” to others as theirs is to you!
  • Remember –  political parties and politics are labels; at the bottom of it all is a person
  • Choose how much media you let into your life from polling info, to the evening news, to social media banter
  • Take care of yourself; that means step away from a discussion when you need to; don’t engage
  • Keep perspective in all things
  • Manage your stress and practice good health habits
  • Be kind
  • Vote!

Monday Blues?

Are Mondays your least favorite day of the week? The Monday Blues can be a passing tiredness, an indication of a poor job fit, or a screaming need for an attitude adjustment. If hopeless, tired, sad, stressed, overwhelmed, impatient, and unpleasant pretty much describe you on Monday mornings – you may need to do something. Why? Because you deserve better and so do your co-workers! If Monday Madness has grabbed you and you feel you may be a victim of The Blues, check out some of these ideas…
  • Identify the problem; if your work leaves you feeling underappreciated, stressed, and overwhelmed – name it and claim it; then you can start dealing with it
  • Don’t dwell on Mondays like a looming dark cloud that dumps on your weekend
  • Get sunlight and fresh air on your weekend – refresh!
  • Be ready for Monday … start on Sunday by getting your food and clothes lined out; synch up your calendar
  • Dress like you want to be at work – it makes a difference!
  • Practice good self-care – don’t overdo Sunday with heavy foods/drinks
  • Get some sleep! Lack of shut eye makes everything and everyone more difficult
  • Focus on the things you are excited about in the week ahead
  • Eat a good breakfast
  • Try not to over-pack your weekend; have some down time
  • Have a positive attitude; use positive self-talk while you drive into work
  • Maintain a manageable Monday work schedule – keep it light when you can
Share what you do to make Mondays work for you…

Techno-Stress?

Huh? Guess what – heavy technology use (computers, phones, TV) is linked to fatigue, stress, and depression, particularly in young adults. All of our gadgets and screens are affecting our sleep. And, as we know, sleep is truly the gateway to good health. Specific findings…
  • Those constantly accessible via cell phones were the most likely to report mental health issues
  • Men who use computers intensively were more likely to develop sleeping problems
  • Frequently using a computer without breaks further increases the risk of stress, sleeping problems, and depressive symptoms in women
  • Read more…
What can you do?
  • Reclaim your bedroom!
  • Exercise regularly
  • Watch your caffeine and alcohol intake before bedtime
  • See a doctor or sleep professional if your problems persist
Think you and your family are immune to techno-stress? Do some self-reflection over the coming week. Most of us started using technology for efficiency and safety reasons…but think about it. When was the last time you went tech-free for the day? Can you put your phone/tablet away and out of sight during meetings, conferences, while driving? Do you feel left out or that you are missing out on something if you leave your phone at home? Do you check your work emails from home just because you can? If you are blurring the lines between work and home, the stress will eventually catch up. And, think of what you are modeling for your children! Choose to take control. Drive your own bus. Take charge of your technology. Share your ideas on how to manage techno-stress.

Distracted, unfocused, preoccupied?

I may have just described 50% of us! Distractions and information overload are a double whammy. Distractions are particularly deadly when they creep into your driving time. And, information overload causes distraction from what is truly important in the moment…whether that is driving or working or life. Both can be deadly; both cause stress. This week, make it your goal to take back your mind! Practice living in the present; tune in and focus. Try “living in the moment” at least once a day. It takes time and practice but your health and wellness are so worth it! Share your tips on how you manage distractions – especially technology overload.

How’s your well-being?

When people see you, does everything on the outside seem serene and picturesque? But on the inside do you feel fuzzy, frazzled, or empty? It could be you need to do a little work on your well-being. There is a big difference between wellness and well-being, though we often use the terms interchangeably. Wellness is a state of health; well-being is more holistic – it includes a sense of happiness, prosperity, emotional and social health, and life satisfaction. It is the bigger picture – the whole life experience. Well-being is so important, it is even addressed and defined by the Centers for Disease Control. So how is your well-being? Here are some tips to achieving a better sense of well-being
  • Work out
  • Calm the chaos
  • Eat and drink good stuff
  • Enjoy quality “me” time
  • Enjoy quality “we” time
  • Love where you live
  • Love where you work
  • Look good
  • Be happy
For more resources, check out 10 Tips to Stay Mentally Healthy.

Reflections

Another year gone by. Some of us are happy; some can’t wait to hail in 2016. No matter where you sit with 2015, it is worth reflecting on what has been. Here are some questions to ponder as you close out the year…
  • What happened in 2015 that you will remember for the rest of your life?
  • What are you most proud of accomplishing?
  • What do you wish you had done more of … or less of?
  • What was the biggest risk you took?
  • What was the smartest decision you made?
  • What was the most unexpected joy or obstacle?
  • What was the nicest thing someone did for you?
  • What was the nicest thing you did for someone else?
  • What would you change about 2015, if you could?
  • What was the biggest personal change you made?
  • How has your wellness journey changed?
  • Who or what had the biggest impact on your life?
  • How are you different this year than last?
  • What are the top three fun or exciting events you participated in?
  • What do you need to let go of?
  • Pick three words that describe 2015 for you
  • Ask your significant other to choose three words that he/she thinks describes your year … discuss!
  • For what are you most grateful?
Share your favorite question(s) you like to reflect upon at the end of the year.

Financial Wellness

Financial problems rate among the top causes of stress, often resulting in high blood pressure, sleepless nights, lively “discussions” with the family, headaches, back aches, and on and on. Many of us avoid the pain of thinking about or dealing with our finances. Some of us think about them to excess. One thing is certain, our finances can have a direct effect on our overall sense of wellbeing. But, can you be financially well with a negative bottom line? Is it as simple as changing the lens with which you view happiness or success? Can you change your reality? Some positive psychologists think so; listen to this TED Talk with Dr. Shawn Achor. If positive psychology and changing your lens just doesn’t do it for you, maybe you need to consider a more practical approach to money management. The bottom line – whether you think financial wellness is an attitude, a reality or somewhere between, your finances deserve your consideration. Put your mind to work on ways you can make your finances a little more “healthy”. Don’t know where to start? Check out the Idaho Financial Literacy Coalition and the Idaho Department of Finance’s financial literacy links and resources.

How’s your sleep?

It’s fair to say we live in a sleep-deprived culture. We all know people who wear their sleep deprivation as a “badge of honor” which seems so silly when you think about it. Sadly, the consequences of poor sleep take a huge toll on our health. Sleeplessness directly affects our health, mood, motivation, appetite, weight, and more. I recently participated in a webinar series called Smarts and Stamina with MJ Shaar. It motivated me to change my work schedule to allow for more sleep in the morning hours…because I just can’t seem to get to bed early. So far, I love it! It’s amazing what 45 extra minutes of sleep does for my body and soul. Since sleep affects so many other parts of our health, it makes sense to try some simple things to create better sleep. Try some of these ideas to Conquer the Conk-Out If all you do this summer for your health is add on an hour more of sleep you may be amazed at the outcome. What simple things have you done to create better sleep?

Damage control?

“I love the holidays but I want to practice damage control this year…” my coworker stated as she left my office. It sounds fairly clinical, but it’s true. The magic of the Season can lead one down the path of destruction and compromise! What gets compromised? – nutrition, budget, sleep habits, exercise, YOU! I did a quick review of my last two weeks. I traded away two trips to the gym to finish holiday house decorations. I traded away at least three trips to the grocery store for after-work holiday get-togethers. Tonight I am trading sleep time and relaxation to get the holiday cards written. UGH! There’s hope – you can stop the madness. Practice damage control…
  • Make a budget for entertainment, food, and gifts
  • Schedule exercise; put it on your calendar
  • Prepare at least one healthy meal every day
  • Quit the “clean plate club”
  • Eat slowly; savor your food
  • Have a plan before you arrive at a buffet or office potluck
  • Meet with friends around events, not food
  • Let go of perfectionism!
  • Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should; guard your time
  • De-stress with three yoga tips
  • Slow down, take a breath; be in the moment, not on your way to the next moment!
Share what you do for damage control during the Holidays.

Got stress?

I know what you’re thinking – who doesn’t have stress? It’s a fact of life. True, but there are lots of things you can do to manage chronic daily stress. And, there are many reasons beyond headaches and ragged relationships to pay attention to your stress level. The biggest reason – it affects your health. Stress can cause your immune system to falter, it can play havoc with your blood pressure and heart rate, your digestive system can go crazy and your appetite can go whacky. When stress levels are high, creativity goes out the door and options don’t seem to exist. One of the biggest downsides to stress – it ages you! Who needs that? So get on it! Visit the Stress Center for coping resources. Try some natural relaxation techniques to chill out. Only have 5 minutes? That’s okay – try these ideas. Quick tips to keep your stress in check:
  • Meditate – it’s a mini vacation!
  • Practice deep breathing
  • Practice yoga
  • Spend time with positive people
  • Connect – get (or give) a hug!
  • Get up and move – stretch it out
  • Get some sunlight
  • Take a nap
  • Change your environment – take a 5 minute walk
  • Read a book
  • Take a day trip

Holiday Pressure Cooker?

Before your holidays get to the pressure-cooker stage, take a minute. Reduce holiday stress; create the holiday you want. Keep the joy and the stress of family in perspective… from family dinners and obligations to family traditions. While you’re at it, don’t forget to keep a healthy heart during the holiday season.  Try these tips to keep the pressure-cooker lid on!
  • Be realistic about what you can accomplish this season
  • Simplify your holiday plans
  • Make a budget…and stick to it!
  • Be active whenever you can
  • Take a minute – sit, close your eyes, breathe
  • Get 7-8 hours of sleep most nights
  • Eat nutritious meals when you can
  • Ask for hlep when you need it
  • Forgive and forget
  • Use the Stress Center resources. There are tip sheets, video clips, books, articles, and powerpoints.
What works for you when holiday stress starts to get out of hand…?

Energy Management

For years you have heard about time management as a tool to get things done. I’ve switched my thinking – now I think it’s energy management. Energy is like the currency of high performance. Increasing your personal energy level can result in higher motivation, better problem solving, greater success with complex tasks, better concentration, and an overall positive, can-do attitude. Try it! Do an energy audit. Start by identifying the top three things that drain your energy. When you know what drains your energy you can design ways to manage those things. Some common “drains” are stress, clutter, noise, poor health, lack of sleep, poor diet, lack of movement, lack of direction. Now identify three things you can do that replenish or boost your energy level when it’s low. Some common “boosters” are sleep, relaxation, brainstorming, exercise… What is your top energy drain and your top energy booster?