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Living Gluten Free on Vacation

Posted by Cole Millen
Cole Millen
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on Tuesday, June 25, 2013
in Weight Loss

Eating only gluten-free products is an easy part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle while at home.  Thanks to the added emphasis on health that is sweeping the nation, grocery stores and markets now provide an abundance of options that eliminate the need to stop eating many of our favorite foods simply because they contain gluten and other unhealthy products.  However, maintaining a gluten-free diet when it is time to go on vacation can present quite a challenge.  In addition to facing the temptations of exotic foods and the mental excuses one makes to break the rules of their diet, you can easily find yourself in situations where gluten-free meals or snacks are not even an option.  If you have pledged to yourself that you will not make sacrifices when it comes to the health of your diet despite the circumstances, then consider some of this advice on how to enjoy your vacation free of gluten.

The first challenge you will potentially face is food and snacks that are being served aboard an airplane.  Most airport restaurants and meals served aboard flights lack gluten-free options.  The vegetarian meals are a healthy alternative, but there is no guarantee that the specific ingredients will be available.  It is wise to eat a healthy snack or meal at home directly before leaving to board your flight.  If you are forced into eating due to flight delays or cancellations, then choose unprocessed food items that can only be served fresh such as fruit or salads.  People flying on a regular basis also find that it’s easier to maintain their diet when they pack healthy snacks that are free of gluten into their carry-on baggage.

The next place that one is likely to face pitfalls, are hotels along the way. Make sure to do your due diligence before hand to determine which hotels can accommodate your needs. I have found travel reviews to be the most honest and unbiased form of information in this regard. I recently took a trip out west and found a great site called Gogobot that offered reviews on every aspect imaginable. I was then able to find a list of reviews for Las Vegas hotels regarding their amenities as well as restaurants in the nearby area that resulted in finding a complete gluten free restaurant. Tools like these make it easier than ever to maintain your lifestyle regardless of your destination. If you are one who easily succumbs to temptations and the whims of the small snack, avoid the temptation altogether by turning down the key to the minibar.  In this instance, we have another situation where packing gluten-free snacks from home can be beneficial.  Bring along instant soups and other food items that can be prepared using nothing more than the hot water from the coffeemaker.  Should you desire to prepare meals on your own in the hotel room in order to know exactly what is going into your body, pack a crock-pot that works with any traditional wall socket.  Stocking up on gluten-free products that can be prepared using this item allows you to take advantage of the healthy choices at the local grocery.

Eating out while on vacation is the kind of situation that provides the greatest amount of danger.  Typically, servers are not even aware whether or not the items on their menu contain gluten.  The first line of defense is to choose restaurants that have a healthy approach to the food they serve in general.  It will be much more difficult to locate an appropriate dish at a restaurant that is geared towards heavy meats and seafood than it will be at a place that is geared towards sandwiches and wraps.  Be discerning before you even walk in the door.  You can also save valuable vacation time by researching restaurants and hotels in the area online before you even depart.  The majority of good restaurants will post their menus on their website.  If you find yourself in a situation where you had to eat an extremely light meal in order to safeguard your diet, then be sure to have multivitamins at your disposal in order to supplement the minerals and vitamins you may have missed during the dinner service.

Cole Millen, is an avid traveler and foodie who never forgets that life's best memories are made through real life apprehension of legitimate "experiences." Follow his blog at Cole’s Mill.

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Win the War Against Holiday Weight Gain

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
VTR Expert
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on Wednesday, October 10, 2012
in Weight Loss


As many of us have completed our goal races for the year or are in the final stretch before that big event, we start to look towards the off-season. Now whether your goal race was a half-marathon, marathon, or an Ironman, chances are you went through months of hard training and sacrifices to make your goal a reality. At this point you probably feel mentally and physically drained and need some much deserved time off. Guess what? You are deserve it. This is a great time of the year to take some time off. The weather starts to get cold, plenty of holiday feasts and parties to enjoy, probably much needed vacation time from work..etc.

The big question is...Can we enjoy the off-season and re-charge our batteries without gaining weight? The answer is NO. Now you may have read a hundred articles about this subject and you may have got a candy coated answer about how you can avoid gaining weight. I am telling you it is impossible and you will gain weight. The real question is will you gain 5-10 lbs or will you go crazy and gain a ridiculous amount of weight.

If your big race is over and training for your event is done then guess what? You have started the war against weight gain. Make no are in a war. Denying it will not keep the pounds off. I look at the battleground as the day my final race ends in the fall until after the New Year. Usually this is 2-3 months of time. My goal is to enjoy every party, holiday feast, and family gathering and weigh no more than 10 pounds heavier than I was before my end of season event. Ten pounds is manageable. What you don't want is to step on the scale and see 20-25 pounds or more on January 2nd...then you are looking at a major struggle to begin next season.

10 simple ways to avoid gaining crazy amounts of weight during the Holidays

1) Slow down your training....but don't stop! The off-season is a time to scale back...not completely shut it down. If you were running 5-6 days a week cut it down to 3-4 days a week. I try to run at least 4 days a week and I run 4-6 miles every time. I don't care about pace and I don't care about distance. I have set a mental minimum of 4 miles. If I want to run more I do. If I don't, then I run the minimum of 4 miles. Simple.

2) Try something new...some people like playing hockey, hiking, hunting, skiing, etc. If you have a sport you couldn't fit into your life due to your training, now is the time to enjoy it. Keep in mind hiking one day on the weekend does not replace a week's worth of maintenance runs.

3) Everyone has holiday parties to attend. If you are the host, here is a simple tip. As people leave give them something to take home. Get rid of the leftover cakes, pies, candy, rolls, etc. Anything left behind will be eaten by question. Do not let people leave empty handed.

4) This goes against #3. If you are not the host, then do not accept anything to take home. Anything you take home usually does not last the car ride home or is eaten in the middle of the night. Politely refuse to take any food home with you. Instant savings to the waist line.

5) If asked to bring something to a party offer to bring a healthier dessert such as a fruit salad or some other low calorie dessert. Just about everyone is battling weight gain and although they won't ask you to bring something healthier they probably won't object if you offer.

6) If you know you are going to chow down at a big meal (such as Thanksgiving) then try to take it easy on the desserts. Maybe just a small piece of pie (just to be social). Limit the damage by choosing to overindulge on the meal or the dessert. Not both. The flip side is if you are at a work holiday party or another small gathering you could choose to eat a lite lunch and then have a big piece of pie. This is basic math folks...everything has calories and they all add up.

7) If you know you are having a huge meal, pie, snacks, etc. at a series of upcoming parties then limit the damage to just those days. It is nice to not have to think about calories or dieting and just be able to eat anything you want at Christmas Dinner. That is fine. Just don't turn every day into Christmas Dinner. Once the dinner is over, it is time to go back to normal eating habits. Don't allow any carryover into "normal" days after the parties are over.

8) Enjoy the parties and dinners but know when to say when. There is absolutely no excuse to have the second, third, or fourth piece of pie. It is OK to let yourself go a little bit, but don't commit dietary suicide. No one enjoys the third piece of pie anyway. Let's be honest. How do you feel later that night?

9) Don't forget that beverages also have calories. Try not to grab the big glass of eggnog with that piece of pie. Again it is all about the math and adding up the or the other...not both.

10) The Holiday season is the time that chocolates, candies, and baked goods start to show up at work. You must avoid workplace "grazing" at all costs. This is where you could really start to lose the war. You can overcome several parties spread out over a month or two but you will not win the war if you start eating 200-500 additional calories a day from candy jars at work. I know how it grab a piece of chocolate out of a dish at work and next thing you know you are having one every time you walk by. Then you are finding reasons to walk by the dish so you can have another one.....and then before you know it...


 The bottom line is the off-season is a time to relax and re-charge your batteries both mentally and physically. It is also an opportunity to enjoy the Holiday season and spend time with family and friends without strict dietary restrictions or workout plans. The reality is you will go back to training and when you do it will be a lot easier if you have only gained a few pounds. Good luck.


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