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Conquer Your Weight

Episode #49: Lose Weight While on Vacation

Show Notes

September 27, 2023

In this week's episode, we're going to talk about how you can continue to have weight loss success while you travel.

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Dr. Sarah Stombaugh: This is Dr. Sarah Stombaugh and you are listening to the Conquer Your Weight Podcast, episode number 49. Announcer: Welcome to the Conquer Your Weight podcast where you will learn to understand your mind and body so you can achieve long-term weight loss. Here's your host obesity medicine physician and life coach, Dr. Sarah Stombaugh. Dr. Sarah Stombaugh: Hey everyone, thank you so much for joining me today. I am excited to talk about today's episode. We are talking about eating while you are traveling. While you were on vacation, my husband and I just took a trip cross country or most of the way across the country from Virginia to Utah for a good friend's wedding and I was thinking a lot about weight loss in the context of travel, so I'd love to share that with you today. Before we get into today's episode though, I want to invite you to come check out my website and come be a member of my practice. If you live in Illinois or Virginia where I am licensed to practice medicine, I would love to see you as a patient in my weight loss practice. I have made a few changes to my schedule recently and I have some new slots that are open and I'm so excited to share those appointment slots with you all. So if you have been waiting to come work with me, now is the time go visit my website at That's Working with me is a great opportunity to review your weight loss, what your goals are, whether we achieve those with medications or without medications, and I would love to help you along your journey. Today we are talking about that travel. I'm going to tell you a little bit about my own experience, what went well, what didn't went well or didn't go well, and then what I would like to do in the future because anytime that something doesn't go according to plan or in my case that I didn't have as much of a plan as I would have liked to have had to reflect on that so that I have an opportunity to learn for that for the future. Sometimes we are really quick to forgive ourselves and move on. Sometimes we beat ourselves up, but that sweet spot in the middle where you can stop, you could reflect on what actually happened and then if you were given a redo, what would you do differently the next time? Would you take that opportunity to plan more, to make different decisions? And if so, why? And then how can you apply that when you are in similar situations in the future? Let me walk you through a little bit about our travel. What went well, what didn't go well, and what I wish I had done differently. We flew to Utah on Friday afternoon. My husband was not able to take off of work because of a commitment that he had previously had, and so we left a little bit later. We had a 4:20 PM flight and we flew to Denver, then connected to Utah. We arrived at Utah at about 11:00 PM Mountain Time, which is about 1:00 AM East Coast time. We were totally thrown out of whack. I do not know what I was thinking. I ate breakfast that day. I ate lunch that day. Friday afternoon, we were leaving for the airports late two o'clock hour and I didn't plan to bring any food with me. So by the time we got to the airport we realized, oh shoot, we have a three hour flight from Virginia to Denver and we don't have any food. And so my husband went to one of the newsstand stores and picked up some beef jerky. He was planning to pick up some nuts and I was on the phone actually taking another call, so I was not a part of this decision. I assumed that he had bought both beef jerky and nuts. So about halfway through the flight, so I was like, Hey hun, can I have some of those almonds you bought? And he said, oh, I decided not to buy them because they were $20. And I had a little moment where I started to panic because I realized that was my plan and I don't blame him. $20 for a bag of almonds is really pretty pricey, so didn't end up eating on the flight. We got to Denver and it was, let's see, probably eight o'clock and we were hungry, so we went to a Mexican restaurant, ordered food that was in line with our food goals, and that was excellent. What I wish I would've done differently though is instead of getting to the airport and looking around choosing food, then not choosing food because of the price of it, I wish that I had just brought some stinking food with me. So this is a piece of advice I give to patients literally many days, at least once a week. My patients and I talk about upcoming travel and how to prepare for it, and one of the best pieces of advice that I have for you, and maybe I should have for myself is to plan your snacks in advance to make sure that there's not going to be long periods of time where you go without food, where then you are, maybe you're feeling angry about it, you're starting to have those cravings. You are more likely to choose something that is not in line with your food goals because the foods that are available or the foods that are affordable are maybe not the healthiest options. And so one of the best pieces of advice is to have food in your bag that is available for you to eat a healthy food choice, something that aligns with your goals for yourself that will also help you to stay satiated so you're not in the middle of a three or four or much longer flight and feeling starving. So I brainstormed for you a list of shelf stable foods. These are things that are easy to throw in a carry-on bag that may also align with your health goals. So these are things like whole fruit. I find apples are always my favorite just because they're so sturdy, there's no risk of them getting squished or anything like that, but you can certainly think about pears or oranges or bananas. Protein bars are a really good choice. I really also like granola bars that are nut forward. So kind bars are my favorite. You do have to take a look at the label. When I say the nut forward ones, I mean ones that are really nutty as opposed to ones that are more grain-based and looking for ones that have pretty low sugar content. So four or five grams per bar is a really excellent thing to aim for. Nut butters are a great option, so that can either be peanut butter or almond butter or something like that. Most companies, or maybe not most, but many companies do make single serve packets of those. So that is something that's easy to toss in your bag. Nuts and seeds are a great option as well. So this can be really any variety of nut or seed, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, that type of thing. Beef jerky or beef sticks or variations of that. Roasted plants, so not things that are chips, but things like roasted edamame, roasted chickpeas, kale chips, that type of thing can be a really great option. Wasabi peas. I really love, I'm not a huge fan of seaweed snacks, but those seaweed paper crackers that you might know I'm talking about also, this might sound funny, but canned or pouches of tuna or chicken can be a really great thing. I often recommend for people to have these in their suitcase because they are shelf stable and they're also really pretty good. So a lot of the companies that have those individual single serve packets, they have flavored ones. So it's not just eating a packet of flavored or unflavored tuna, but you can get buffalo chicken, tuna or lemon pepper, tuna or ranch and besides tuna, there's salmon and chicken and lots of other things. So those are a really great option. So I want to put these out as things that you can consider. I will mention, I don't know that I've ever talked about fruit or dried fruit before, but I really despise dried fruit when it comes to your weight loss journey. And the reason being is that dried fruit is dehydrated. You've removed most of the liquid in order to have that dried fruit and the fruit really shrinks. So if you think about a raisin, a teeny tiny raisin, that is a whole grape. And so if you were to eat a box of raisins, that's the equivalent of eating like a hundred grapes and most people don't sit down and eat a hundred grapes in one setting, so it's really easy to overeat when it comes to dried fruit because that volume is really low. Think about apricots. If you've ever bought apricots dried versus a whole apricot, it's pretty crazy. A whole apricot. They're pretty small fruit, they're the size, probably about of a ping pong ball, maybe slightly bigger, but a dried apricot is like the size of a quarter or maybe a half dollar. It's really pretty small. And so if you were to sit down and have a dried apricot, you probably wouldn't have one or two or three more likely you'd be having, I dunno, like eight or 10 or maybe even more. And if you compare that to how many would I eat if I were eating this item whole, you'd probably be having two or three of those. So I say that to say dried fruit can be great. It's a very good source of fiber, which can be good for bowel movements for example, but really do be careful with that because it's really easy to overeat that and there's a huge amount of sugar. It is fruit sugar, but that doesn't matter. Sugar is sugar, and if you are having 10 apricots when a normal person, if you were eating just regular apricots, would eat two or three. That is just simply too much sugar, too many calories. Similarly with trail mix, you can make your own trail mix at home. Maybe that's a mix of different nuts with a couple of dried fruit mixed in. Just be really careful because I find that trail mix is often something that we pretend is healthy on the surface, but we know that deep down it's actually really terrible for us. So a lot of trail mixes have lots of chocolate or yogurt covered raisins or lots of dried fruit that are mixed in and all of a sudden something that goes from being pretty seemingly healthy actually turns out to really laden in sugar and in a huge amount of calories. It's also depending on the size of those containers, whether we're talking about dried fruit, whether we're talking about trail mix is really easy to overeat those, and so all of a sudden you've eaten five portions of trail mix and that probably does not serve your weight loss goals. So I did not pack any of those things in my bag and looking back, I wish I had, I actually have two trips coming up over the next month, and so I have already made a plan to pack a couple of bars as well as some tuna and chicken pouches into my suitcase. So that is airport food. Also, thinking about when you're in the airport, what are the choices that you can make? Just recognizing it's going to cost a little bit more if you're buying it in the airport compared to buying it outside. So if you're talking about snack foods and that type of thing, I always recommend to have it in advance, but the reality is in most airports there is something that you can find that is in line with your goals. So just make sure to look for it, identify those things in advance. The other thing I like to think about is setting some of your goals in advance. We've talked about this before, but especially when you're thinking about a time away, thinking about sort of globally looking at the trip, how many times am I going to make exceptions to my usual eating pattern? Most commonly, I talk about this in the context of dessert and alcohol, and so most of my patients are eating dessert regularly. It's something that when they are having it, they they're planning it in advance. Same with alcohol. It's something that I recommend knowing how much you're drinking, planning in advance, when you're going to have those things as opposed to sort of finding yourself in a situation where you're eating dessert or drinking alcohol that you really hadn't planned or doesn't align with your goals for yourself. So I recommend to decide in advance, okay, I'm going to be gone this amount of time. How many drinks will I have? How many desserts will I have? And then you can use those at any time you want to. Let's say you're going on a week long vacation, you decide you're going to have three desserts. You don't have to, you can get to the end of the week and realize that you only had two desserts. That is totally an option that's available to you, but you also know if you've sort of set that goal globally in advance, you've set a way to be able to enjoy those sweet treats without overly indulging. So you get to choose the ones that you're really most excited about rather than just having a sweet treat because it's available. Because honestly, if you've been, most of us have been in those situations where we eat something because it was there, not even because it was really particularly exciting to us. So choosing those ones we know that are going to be really exciting for us and then sticking to those goals. Then going back to our trip on Saturday, we went to a wedding, and this is a situation that I talk to my patients about often where we go to these events, whether it's a wedding or whether it's something else where the food is a little bit out of our control. And one of the big reasons why I don't often do calorie counting and macro counting with my patients is that when we're really stuck at looking at calories, when we're really stuck at looking at macros, maybe weighing our food, measuring our food, it can make it hard for us to learn those skills of judging what is on the plate and what is going to be able to appropriately serve our body. So it is such an amazing skillset to be able to learn what foods serve your body, what portion sizes serve your body to be able to eat when you're hungry, to stop eating when you've had just enough, as opposed to eating beyond fullness. So when we're going to an event like a wedding, you may not know what is going to be served. You can still choose foods that you enjoy or eat them in a certain order that's going to help you, and let's talk about a little bit more about this. Luckily, the wedding we went to was a buffet, and I love buffets because you can choose the amount that you want and you have a little bit more control. So as soon as I realized that we would be fed a buffet, what I decided to do was fill half of my plate with vegetables, a quarter of my plate with protein, and then a quarter of my plate with starch, which was a potato type dish. So I had lots of salad, a few asparagus. I had to think for a minute what it was, asparagus, a salmon filet, and then some roasted potatoes, and that was actually really lovely. I was able to put the amount that I wanted onto my plate. I was able to eat until I was satisfied without feeling overly full, and that worked really nicely. What you can also do if the food is being served to you is look at that food in advance, maybe even portion out with your knife and fork, the amount that feels appropriate for your hunger, and then to eat according to that. Also, eating in an order to maximize our fiber, to maximize or decrease the amount of energy that we are absorbing or the time over which we're absorbing it, I like to recommend to start your meal with vegetables, then move to any fats and proteins and then save your starches for last if you eat in that order. That will help to reduce your glucose spike to digest your food over a slower and longer period of time, which helps you to feel more satiated. The other thing you can do is really do pay attention to that hunger scale. So if you've gotten use to assigning a hunger scale, pay attention to how hungry you are when you start, how hungry you are when you end and be really intentional. Even if the food, let's say it's something that's really not in line with what your goals are, you're somewhere and the only option is deep dish pizza and you can either eat that or you're not going to eat for 12 hours. There are times where that is going to happen, and so what you can decide to do is still eat according to your hunger goals. Start when you're hungry, stop when you're satisfied. Don't overeat. Even that is going to help you to feel empowered in this situation where you feel like you don't have a lot of control, so how can you make the best of it is going to be really, really valuable. The other thing I want to think about is just in general for a vacation, are there any other tips or tricks that we should be thinking of? So this weekend we traveled by airplane, but if you are traveling especially by car, I really want to recommend that you stop and eat, so don't drive if you can. Don't eat while you're driving. Stop, pull over at a rest area. Enjoy your food. Similarly, we talked about having snacks available for the airplane. If you can pack your snacks into a cooler, even pack a full meal into a cooler, that is an excellent way to make sure that you are choosing foods that are in line with your goals for yourself. You're going to save a bunch of money as well, but I really recommend don't eat while driving. For one, it's really not that safe, but if you want to be able to pay attention to your hunger signals to be able to pay attention and enjoy the food you're eating and then stop when you're appropriately hungry, that is a really excellent thing to do as well. I also recommend to pay attention to some of your different thoughts that come up around travel. Are you afraid of getting hungry? This is really, really common. When people think about traveling, they know that they may not have their regular access to food, and there's this fear that comes up of like, oh my gosh, I have to eat. I never know when my next opportunity to eat is. If you are having those type of thoughts come up, I really want you to stop and notice those because they are likely not serving you at all. You are likely eating when you're not even meaning to. You are likely eating just because of fear of getting hungry as opposed to actually feeling hungry. You're likely to be eating the snacks that are handed out in the airplane. It is shocking to me over the last couple of years as I've been traveling, I have watched as they do the in-flight service and handout drinks and handout snacks. It is amazing to me how everyone around me, maybe they're all appropriately hungry going into that airport snack or that airplane snack, but it's really interesting how they hand out the snack and all of a sudden, every single person around me is eating that snack, and I really have a hard time believing that every single one of those people was actually appropriately hungry to be enjoying that snack at that time. But sometimes we do that because it's convenient. It's there in front of us, we're not really thinking about it, or we're having thoughts like, oh my gosh, I don't know when I'm going to get a chance to eat next. I better eat this now. So if you're having thoughts like that, just notice them and then pay attention to what you can do. That's one of those really excellent things in terms of having some of those shelf stable snacks packed and in your bag, because even if you don't touch them, even if those snacks are in your suitcase and just available for you, having them there may be really helpful for your mind drama in order so that you don't feel scared of when is my next eating opportunity, because you always know that you have that snack in your suitcase just in case. Alright, these were some of my observations from this last weekend. If you have an upcoming trip, think about this. Make some plans in advance. I know that looking into October, I have a couple of trips coming up and I am absolutely going to plan those, and so I want you to do the same. If I can be of help in your weight loss journey, please reach out. I'm at That's Thank you all for joining me today. I'll see you all next week. Bye-bye.
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