“How do you stay so slim eating all those road-trip restaurant meals?” people often ask me. The answer? Wearing loose clothes to hide the little tire that gets pumped up by about five pounds after a month of steady grazing on volumes of fatty, starchy foods I certainly wouldn’t inflict on my body back home. It all tastes great at the time, but I know there’s a starvation diet in my near future. Still, it could easily be worse, say 10 or more pounds worse. But I’ve learned a few tricks to keep the ballooning at bay.
- Spit, don’t swallow Follow the practice of professional wine tasters. Well, maybe not literally. I don’t think you, fellow diners or waiters want to see your chewed food regurgitated. I’m thinking more of not finishing everything on an overloaded plate. At breakfast, for example, I only have a bite of toast, unless its fabulous, house-baked bread. I know it goes against the mantra of finishing everything on your plate, and it is a waste of food. Still, better that than having it go directly to your waist.
- Reduce your portion size Ask if you can get a child’s or senior’s portion. You might even save some money by doing so. Order a half sandwich, which in many delis is plenty of food, or share a full size.
- Pack a cooler Once you’ve eaten enough, get the rest to go for a later meal. A cooler will keep the leftovers in good shape for a couple of days, instead of growing mold in the 100-degree California heat.
- Order a la carte In Mexican restaurants, I almost never order the full-meal deals, which fill the plate with usually indifferent rice and beans. My stomach space is too valuable for that crap. Similarly, I often get a burger without the accompanying fries and soda.
- Go for the greens I know, salads, are often unimaginative bores, consisting of bedraggled lettuce, a few chopped veggies and a vinaigrette guaranteed to make you wince. (beware the calories in Caesar and ranch dressings). But many restaurants are offering more creative options, like so-called glory bowls, packed with nutritious, tasty things like brown rice, toasted nuts, grilled tofu and sprouts.
- Take time to exercise On a long road trip, you’re spending plenty of time on your butt—in the car, at the motel/campground and in restaurants. Whenever possible, carve at least half an hour out of your travelling day for a walk, run or hike. I like to do it first thing in the morning, because after that, I get down to the serious business of eating. Just in moderation, sort of.