It’s been a few weeks since we checked in, sorry about that but Joe & I were both distracted by two of the most dangerous things to a healthy eating plan — too much work and then a vacation. Here is how we dealt with the nutritional and health challenges of vacation.
Joe was both excited and worried about going away. He was feeling good and mostly confident about maintaining his new habits. But we both knew it would be a challenge. Let’s face it vacation means over doing it, whether it is eating, drinking or activities. To make things even worse, we were going on a cruise. That’s right a cruise, with never ending buffets, unlimited desserts, open bars. There was even a 24-hour stand serving up such dietary delights as soft serve ice cream, pizza, hot dogs, chicken fingers and calzones.
Knowing we were walking into a minefield, Joe planned for the challenges and temptations and was determined to “do the right thing”.
CHALLENGE: Breakfast. The choices were absolutely never-ending and unlimited. Danish, muffins, omelette bars, all-you-could-eat bacon. The most popular breakfast choice at the table each morning was without question Eggs Benedict. Any chef knows how delicious this delicacy can be when constructed correctly — it’s egg sauce on top of eggs for goodness sakes. But it can be one of the unhealthiest breakfast choices on the menu. Let’s break it down: An English muffin is 140 calories. 2 oz of canadian bacon at 52 calories per oz equals 104 calories. Those 2 eggs clock in at 72 calories each, and Hollandaise sauce is 67 calories per tablespoon with 21% from saturated fat. Multiply that by 6 for a 2 oz portion and it equals 402 calories. You are looking at almost 800 calories before you’ve gotten up from the table, and that is assuming that the English muffin wasn’t buttered before it was topped and not counting milk or sugar in your coffee or any juice.
SOLUTION: Vacation or not, breakfast menus are filled with temptations and calorie traps. Be sure to have a plan before you sit down. Every morning we went to the dining room for breakfast. Joe would start off with a cup of black coffee then order a glass of tomato juice. Why? Tomato juice is heavy and filling and has only a few calories and is really quite satisfying. Instead of Eggs Benedict he had two poached eggs (144 calories) over dry rye toast (140 calories), spiced up with hot sauce. The runny egg yolk is plenty unctuous enough so you don’t need butter or sauce, and the rye bread and hot sauce engages and satisfies your taste buds for very few added calories. His vacation indulgence was a ˝ side order of one of his favorites — corned beef hash (200 calories). For a total of 484 calories, he was perfectly content.
CHALLENGE: Lack of activity. Vacations and general, and cruises in particular, allow you to get out of your work-out regimen.
SOLUTION: Find time to work out. Most hotels and cruise ships have gyms — squeeze in a quick work-out to keep on track. Or budget in some time for walking. After breakfast Joe would go up on the deck to walk a mile, burning off the morning calories while enjoying the spectacular ocean views.
CHALLENGE: Cocktails. On the cruise ship the outdoor bars that open at 10:00 am. That’s right, 10am. And the sea and sunshine makes one tend towards ordering fruity rum punches, coladas and frozen daiquiris. The problem is that those kinds of drinks are not very filling, they go down quickly and can hit 800 calories per drink.
SOLUTION: Ordering thoughtfully. It’s a vacation, a drink or two is probably on the agenda. Joe had a Bloody Mary, which again are tasty and filling. He would add extra horseradish and maybe some Tabasco so each sip was even more rewarding.
CHALLENGE: Lunch. The choices on the ship were epic. There was temptation all over the ship. On the right there was a New York Style deli where they offered fatty corned beef and pastrami Reuben style sandwiches, then on the left was a burger, fries, chicken finger and shake shack. On the other end was a stir fry station which might have been a viable choice until we saw all the oils and starches that they were serving. An average plate if he was indulging like our fellow passengers might have easily looked like this:
A pastrami Reuben = about 710 calories
Medium order of French fries = 427 calories
Ketchup- 15 calories per Tbs. 2 oz = 90 calories
Deli Pickle = 15 calories (the best part)
Grand total = 1242 calories
SOLUTION: Once again, being thoughtful and aware. A full cup of greens — mesclun, spinach, most lettuces — is anywhere from 5-8 calories. So Joe would have about 2 cups of greens and about 2 ounces of each of tomatoes, carrots, beets, cooked broccoli, cauliflower added in averaging about 8 calories per oz, so all 10oz of filling vegetables were a mere 80 calories. 5 flavor packed imported olives were 5 calories each for 25 calories. Dressed with of 2 oz balsamic used 56 calories and 2 tablespoons at 240 calories with some spices and herbs added 296 calories
To satisfy any meat cravings he had 3 oz pastrami with some good mustard
3 oz pastrami = 135 calories
2 teaspoons mustard = 20 calories
Grand total for lunch was = 547 calories
CHALLENGE: The bread at dinner. Why is the bread basket such a dangerous thing? We were amazed at the “bread course” activity that occurred at dinner. There was a family next to our table, they would have a feeding frenzy when the bread baskets arrived. They would put butter on every piece that went in their mouth. Then would demolish the first round and request a second round. They were in a bread and butter trance! And they were all overweight. The bread and butter basket is a sneaky high calorie item that you don't think about because it comes before the meal, you didn't order it, it just arrives, so technically they don't count, right But they quickly add up. Rolls can be anywhere from 80-100 calories each and a tablespoon of butter is 102 calories. Without thinking you can potentially add 200-300 calories before you even start dinner.
SOLUTION: Be aware of what you are eating, and don’t consume mindless calories. If you eat bread, stop at one piece and count those calories in your daily totals. If you must have a pre-meal snack, try melba toast or thin wheat cracker with a artichoke, bean, or roasted pepper dip, all of which give satisfaction and taste appeal with less than half of the calories of butter.
Having dodged many of the traps all day made choosing a healthy dinner pretty easy. Lobster cocktail with sauce was about 220 calories as opposed to butter poached lobster with creamed risotto which clocked in at about 700 calories. A typical entree included braised lamb shank with roasted root vegetables which was about 720 calories. He is avoiding starches so he passed on the mashed potatoes. If you are eating starches, the potatoes themselves aren’t inherently bad but most restaurant mashes include extravagant amounts of butter and dairy, making each serving nearly 700 calories. And he made thoughtful choices for dessert as well, avoiding the white chocolate bread pudding with berries and vanilla sauce for dessert (375 calories) and choosing the light ice box cheese cake with fresh fruits (220 calories). With a 50 calorie green salad, Joe’s dinner was about 1210 calories while less thoughtful choices would have quickly added up to 3460 calories with an after dinner drink.
Total cruising calories per day:
Breakfast = 484 calories
Lunch = 547 calories
Dinner = 1210 calories
Total food calories = 2241
When the ship had docked Joe had gained back a few pounds but was still on track. He was able to be back at his pre-cruise weight within the week and continued on his way to losing. Next week we will tackle how to keep on track when you are in the kitchen for work.