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Powerful Choices Podcast: Stay Healthy on Vacation

July 2010

Colleen: Hello and welcome to the American Cancer Society’s Powerful Choices Podcast series, where you'll get the information you need to make everyday choices that can help you be well and stay well. I’m Colleen Doyle, the American Cancer Society’s director of nutrition and physical activity. Thanks so much for joining us.

Summer is the time for traveling, and for many of us, road trips are a family tradition. Vacations are also the time when a lot of us let good health habits like eating right and exercising fall by the wayside. Today I'm going to give you some tips for eating well on the road, and staying active when you travel.

First, let's talk about food. Any time you take a long car trip, it’s a really great idea pack your own snacks so you won’t be tempted by the candy, cookies and chips when you stop at the gas station.

So what I do at my house, is, I bring along a little cooler with different snacks for my family and me to eat. We might have things like some hummus and some baby carrots for a nice healthy snack.

And frequently, for a sweeter thing, we'll bring along some sliced apples and some peanut butter like sliced apples and peanut butter, nice to dip in. Another snack that's really easy and a healthy snack to bring along is some string cheese and some whole grain crackers. All of these healthy options are really easy to eat in the car, and they won't leave you with a big mess.

Now, if you want something a little on the salty side, I usually take along some little bags of pretzels for my kids and my family, and also nuts. Nuts are a really healthy source of snack. Lots of good healthy fat and give you that little crunchy salty craving you might have. And frequently if we're looking for something a little salty and sweet, trail mix is a great healthy choice for you.

Now, eventually you'll need to stop for a real meal. Fast food is often the cuisine of choice when we travel because it can be really quick and convenient, and you can find it just about anywhere. The key is to order wisely and skip the fried foods, and anything loaded with bacon, cheese, or heavy sauces. Go for the grilled chicken instead of the bacon cheeseburger; the turkey on whole wheat instead of the salami, ham and cheese sub; and if you just have to have some French fries… go for the smallest order, and split them with the rest of the family. The good news is that today lots of places now have salads and baked potatoes that you can top with lots of colorful vegetables. Just watch how much cheese and dressing you put on! And instead of that fried apple pie for dessert, many fast food places now offer fruit – go for that instead and save yourself a lot of calories.

Now let's talk about exercise. It's hard to think about exercise when you're cooped up in the car for hours on end. Take advantage of every bathroom break and gas station visit to squeeze in a little activity. Lots of those picnic areas and rest stops along the way have opportunities to be active that you might not have even thought about. Walk some laps around that picnic area, join your kids in a quick game of tag or a race. One thing we do too, some people think it looks a little strange, but we do pushups against the side of a picnic table or a wall. At the very least, get out of the car and do some simple stretches. If you don't have time to run around, stretching can really help you feel better.

Once you reach your destination, look for ways to make physical activity a part of your vacation. If you're at the beach, don't just sit in the sand looking at the beautiful setting. Get up, play Frisbee with your kids, toss a ball around on the beach. Get up, move around, even build sandcastles. Get up and move.

If you're in a city, try walking to some of the sights instead of driving. Carve out some time to use the hotel gym or swim a few laps in the pool. You can also do some simple exercises in your room like sit ups, squats, and lunges while you watch TV.

We hope the information we’ve shared today will help you make powerful choices that can help reduce your cancer risk. You can find more resources at cancer.org or by calling our call center at 1-800.227.2345, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. From all of us here at the American Cancer Society, thanks for joining us!