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July 26, 2013 | 4 minute read

Road Trips to Potlucks: Cancer-Fighting Summer Travel Tips

It’s summertime, and that means lots of fun BBQs, parties and traveling. Trigger-foods like sausage, chips and sweet/salty foods that you might normally keep out of the house can be hard to resist when you are away from home.canstockphoto4732007 You might also want to avoid offending your host by turning down the food they prepared.

You are not alone. Here are some tips to navigate four tricky common summer eating scenarios – it all starts with planning ahead!

At a potluck:

  • Bring a healthy side dish like a garden salad or fruit salad so you can eat this instead of high-calorie sides like macaroni or potato salad.
  • Be a food snob! If you don’t absolutely love the treat, don’t bother. If there is one dessert you like more than others, have just a small portion of that one.
  • Fill your plate once. Build your plate based around the guidelines for the New American Plate. Then walk away from the food so you aren’t tempted to get seconds.
  • Limit alcohol. If you have an alcoholic beverage, select a light beer or a glass of wine. Limit yourself to two drinks for men and one for women. If you have more than one, have a glass of water between drinks to slow you down and keep you hydrated.

Staying at a friend or family member’s house:

  • Stock the pantry. Offer to go to the grocery store and stock up on foods that include cancer-fighting fruits and veggies, fiber and nutrient-rich whole wheat bread and lean protein like canned tuna.
  • Have just a taste. Don’t offend the hosts by turning down that rich-dish they made; instead, have a small portion and fill up the rest of your plate with a salad or vegetables.
  • Offer to cook a meal. You will be doing your host a favor and you can make sure it will be a healthy meal, like these salmon and vegetable oven kebabs from AICR’s Test Kitchen.

Staying at a hotel:

  • Skip the all-you-can-eat buffet breakfast. Keep fat free milk, low fat yogurt and berries in the hotel fridge and bring some whole grain cereal. You can even bring instant oatmeal packets and use hot water from the coffee machine for a quick and nutritious breakfast.
  • Bring snacks. Pack individual baggies of almonds or other nuts, whole grain cereal or fresh or dried fruit so you don’t go overboard when you eat out.
  • Skip the bread rolls. You can quickly add 300 calories or more just from two restaurant rolls with butter.
  • Walk! Take extra walks to explore the area – you’ll see more of the sites and increase your activity for the day

On a road trip:

  • Bring a cooler with healthy snacks for the car. Pack things like cherries (http://www.aicr.org/foods-that-fight-cancer/foodsthatfightcancer/cherries.html), light cheese sticks, baby carrots, nuts, whole grain crackers or dips like hummus so you don’t end up snacking on cookies and chips. Don’t forget water bottles!
  • Plan your restaurants. Decide before you leave where you will stop to get meals so you can make smart choices. Looking online at menus ahead of time will help you see which items are lower in calories, fat and sodium, and higher in fiber.

And remember, it’s okay to veer away from your normal routine every once and a while. Making mindful decisions while traveling will help improve your health and lower your risk of developing cancer while still having a good time.

How do you eat healthy when you travel?

Sonja Goedkoop, MSPH, RD, is a clinical dietitian at the Massachusetts General Hospital Weight Center. She has a passion for promoting a healthy lifestyle and reducing obesity through improved nutrition and physical activity. You can follow her on twitter @SonjaGoedkoopRD.

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