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Successful Dieting While Traveling

Written by Paul Wolf

Don't let life on the road steer you away from whittling your waistline. Here's how to stick your diet when you're far from home.

You've been doing so well on your diet. You've dropped a few pounds. You're feeling motivated. You're determined to stay on track.

But there's temptation ahead. The next few weeks will be nothing but trains, planes and automobiles, as well as airports, hotel rooms and conference halls. Is your diet going to fall apart?

It shouldn't, if you know how to make the best of a bad situation. Don't let life on the road steer you away from a good diet.

"Pre-planning and smart choices are the keys to the whole thing," says Hope Warshaw, registered dietician and author of The Restaurant Companion: A Guide to Healthier Eating Out.

These days, Denny's serves Garden Burgers. You can visit fresh fruit stands at O'Hare Airport in Chicago. Even the Purdy's Hamburger Market and Grill in Dallas has a capacious salad menu including fat-free Italian dressing.

Call it the Big Gulp revolution, or as Newsweek termed it, "the Super-Sizing of America," but these new healthier choices are often made less so because they are sold in enormous sizes. It becomes more and more difficult to resist overeating, especially if our moms told us to clean our plates.

It's difficult to eat healthfully, but not impossible. If you've got a hectic travel schedule ahead, a little planning can go a long way toward helping you stick with your diet.

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Stowaway Snacks
The miniscule bags of peanuts and a cocktail help to pass the air travel time, but they do little to satisfy your appetite. You're better off, says Warshaw, "bringing your own food." Stop at one of the restaurants in the airport and get a salad to bring on board or pack some fruit and pre-cut veggies in your carry-on bag.

Eating on the run doesn't have to mean greasy drive-thru fare, says Neva Cochran, a registered dietician and nutrition consultant. Try the pop-open cans of tuna for a satisfying snack on the go. Snack on whole-wheat crackers and fruit on the tour bus to resolve against roadside, greasy-hamburger stops. Eat a sports bar before your conference begins, so you don't give in to a candy-bar break later.

Getting It on the Side
When dining out, ask for food the way you want it, and you will probably get it that way. Order fish grilled instead of fried and a baked potato instead of French fries. Don't be afraid to ask for sauces and dressings on the side.

Instead of having a three-course meal, consider ordering an appetizer for dinner and a side salad. It's cheaper and healthier. If you're hungry when you get back to the hotel, have a piece of fruit.

When it comes to dessert, to share is to spare your hips the affects of another chocolate mousse. Don't sit at the table feeling deprived while your dinner companions down forkfuls of apple pie a la mode. Order a dessert with extra forks and put it in the middle for everyone to enjoy.

Sink the Caloric Drinks
You've heard it before, but we're here to remind you that alcoholic beverages are empty calories. A 12-ounce beer contains approximately 150 calories and a 5-ounce glass of dry wine, about 100 calories (the same size glass of sweet wine can be more than 200 calories).

But when your big business deals go down around the watering hole, you don't want to be the only one not drinking. Sparkling water and wedge of lime looks just as festive as a cocktail without all the calories. Also, know you can alternate water between drinks. You'll never wake up with a hangover.

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