A couple years ago I went on an epic trip. I was filming for my TV show, and I let it all out: I ate everything, drank too much, and partied too late. It was my job to constantly eat and review other people’s food, so I made that my excuse and stuck with it to the end. Unfortunately, as my bedroom mirror later pointed out, good memories weren’t all I brought back with me.
Maintaining a healthy diet is one of the hardest things to do while traveling, and eating is a beautiful part of travel. After all, if you don’t indulge in the local cuisine, you’re not getting the full cultural experience. The key is to be honest with yourself about the nature of your trip and plan for it accordingly.
For starters, don’t eat things on the plane that you wouldn’t normally eat in your day-to- day life. If you weren’t at 30,000 feet, would you still be munching on a cookie at 10 a.m.? And if you find yourself flying business class and you’re offered an ice cream sundae after the meal, ask yourself if you would really stop at Baskin-Robbins for a double scoop after lunch.
Hotels pose a unique set of challenges, too. Every time I open a roomservice menu, I think, “I could have a grilled chicken salad, but I really like the look of that burger.” If you don’t open the menu, you can’t be tempted by what’s inside. Call room service and ask what non– cream-based soup there is that day, and see if they can make you a salad with grilled chicken and vegetables. Or order a steak, but instead of fries, ask for steamed broccoli or asparagus on the side. Remind yourself to control what you can when you can.
If you anticipate a big meal, work out beforehand—and you don’t need a gym. Run through the city and check out the architecture. Maybe there’s a swimming pool nearby where you can do some laps. Rent a bike and ride to a nearby town. Let your travels motivate you to try different forms of exercise.
Take it from me, some trips are just going to spin out of control. But as long as you’re realistic and plan ahead, you can avoid counting extra pounds among your souvenirs.
Here’s an example. Let’s say you’re in Italy—home of gelato. You’d be crazy not to try it. Just be smart about it. Get a cup instead of a sugar-loaded cone, opt for fruit toppings, and you don’t need to “try” it every day.