Having just returned from a well-deserved and thoroughly enjoyable break in the USA, I was pleased to find out that I’d only gained 1.5 lbs in weight. I normally assess my weight by how my clothes fit and since they were a little tight, I was curious to know. Now, one of the reasons I wanted to do this trip was because of the amazing and authentic food on offer; from deep pan pizza in Chicago, Buffalo wings in Buffalo, cheesecake in New York to Cheesesteaks in Philly, this trip was a foodies dream! Therefore, I absolutely expected to gain some weight, and having been to the US before I knew exactly what I was in for when it came to; portion sizes, hidden calories and the not so hidden calories in the form of ranch dressing and cheese drenching a perfectly healthy balanced salad!
So how can you reduce the weight gained while away in the US? Here are my top 10 tips for minimizing weight gain whilst holidaying in America.
1. Sharing is Caring
Portions in the US of A are just huge, in many places I feel ‘quantity’ takes precedence over quality. Luckily, I had some equally health conscious friends (one being another dietitian @perryncarrol) with me who were happy to share the load. So one meal became 2 or sometimes even 3, there was no need to worry about whether there would be enough, we were always left feeling full to the brim!
2. Think Small
Starters and sides are often as big as a main course meal here in Britain, we were always so surprised when they arrived that we couldn’t hide our shock even after 2 weeks! Ordering a starter as your meal will help to reduce the total amount of food you eat, plus tips one and two undoubtedly helps you to save the dollars too!
3. Be Specific
The USA are a service-centric nation and so making requests at the start of your meal, no matter how much bother it seems to you, really isn’t to them. Us Brits, don’t like to make a fuss I know, but if you ask for grilled instead of fried, and cheese/dressing on the side it really won’t be too much trouble. In fact, I suggest this is one of the main ways slim Americans stay that way. If I had eaten the food given to me in the way it’s normally served, I’m sure I’d be sat here writing this an extra 3 lbs heavier!
4. Eat In
We travelled around the North East and stayed in hostels, hotels and Air B&B apartments. This was great as all but the one hostel had a refrigerator, plates and cutlery for us to make some of our own meals. I personally feel that eating out all of the time can get a bit much, its a financial drain but most of all it’s pretty time consuming! Having the fridge was perfect, because we could buy fresh milk, yoghurt, fruit and cereal to whip up a nice healthy (and familiar) brekkie.
5. Drink Well
I mean water, of course. As expected, it was pretty hot and humid over there. This, combined with the continuous flow of the AC conditioned air is enough to dehydrate a cactus! Its common to feel hungry when in fact you are thirsty. Therefore, I would suggest drinking more than you would normally and especially at meals to help fill you up, replenish salts lost through sweat and restore hydration.
6. Drink Light!
By this I DON’T mean ‘light’ beers; these are often reduced in alcohol but not in calories – so don’t be fooled! I mean, go for light drinks nothing to thick, heavy or creamy. I realise that this tip is extremely generalised, but when you fancy a boozy beverage you don’t really want to think too long and hard about calories. So simply think; ‘drink light’; prosecco over white wine and white wine over red. Lager over ale, stout or Guinness and vodka/gin instead of whisky, brandy or liqueurs. Always try to mix with a low/zero calorie mixer and add plenty of ice, and while it’s tempting to indulge on the way home – remember that what you eat at the end of boozy night will more than likely be stored as fat (if you are in a calorie surplus), since your body is already working hard to metabolise each unit of alcohol you have effortlessly sunk and not the calories from the burger and fries.
7. Joyful Jogging
I take my trainers with me everytime I go away! I find running through exciting locations the best way to get your bearings and explore new holiday hot spots. I tend to head out first thing to avoid the midday heat. From Central Park to Saugatuck (on Lake Michigan) I pounded the pavements and felt great for it! I know many of my clients don’t like to exercise when they’re away, but there were so many people doing the same thing. Why wouldn’t you? It wakes you up, snaps you out of your heat induced coma and burns calories, plus it was the first time I felt like a local – which is pretty cool!
8. Cultural Ride
Everywhere we went, there were bikes available to hire, again its a pleasant (calorie burning) and cooling way to explore. We took the bikes out in Chicago and Saugatuck and on both occasions got to see way more than we could on foot. Just remember to ride on the ‘wrong’ side of the road when you aren’t on cycle paths but don’t cycle in NYC (unless you are only in Central Park) its far too dangerous on the roads and this is coming from a London based cyclist!!
9. Count your Steps
We walked sooo much, from the Freedom trail in Boston, the Constitutional walk in Philadelphia to the Brooklyn Bridge and just about the whole of Manhattan in NYC. I didn’t realise that my comfiest Havaianas could give me blisters, but they did! Our friend had bought a pedometer at the start of our trip and it was quite rewarding as well as encouraging to find out how many steps we had clocked by the end of the day.
10. Enjoy it!
We had an amazing trip and while I followed all of these tips to minimise weight gain, I didn’t feel restricted. I still ate what I wanted to eat and enjoyed every mouthful! So what if I gained a lb or 2, now I’m home and back to eating my normal healthy diet and exercising regularly, I’ll return to my previous weight in a few weeks, which is absolutely
In short, life and all it contains is here to be enjoyed. So, do just that, eat a New York Cheesecake but just make sure you’ve packed your trainers to run it off in Central Park afterwards!