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On the road again? Put down the doughnut

Sticking to a healthy diet can be tough, especially if your job requires frequent travel or long drives. But with some planning, it can be done, says Gayle Welch, wellness counselor at Hy-Tech Weight Loss center in St. Petersburg. And she should know: For 2 1/2 years, Welch was a marketing manager for an MRI company, and that job meant traveling almost every other week. Welch and Liz Sylves, owner of the Hy-Tech franchise, offer some tips to help you make good eating choices. Ester Venouziou, Times staff writer First, remember this . . .

Don't overeat just because your company is paying for it.

On long drives

Pack a cooler with fruit, veggies, whole-wheat crackers and bottled water. If you have something to munch on, you'll be less tempted by the drive-throughs.

If you must stop at a fast-food place, check its nutrition guide before you order. A grilled chicken sandwich (go light on the sauce) can be a better choice than a salad, even. And skip the fries. A small order from McDonald's has about 250 calories, half of which come from fat.

Stuck having to resort to a convenience store? Go for single-serving whole-grain cereal with low-fat milk. Another good option is a protein bar, but watch out for some that are loaded with sugar. If you need something more substantial, a breakfast sandwich or wrap isn't ideal, but at least it has a good combination of carbs, protein and fat, Sylves says. Choose that over a doughnut, which is all sugar and saturated fat.

At the airport

Avoid the food court: Sit-down restaurants offer a better selection and often cost about the same as the stands, Welch says.

Bring your own snacks: peanut butter sandwich on whole grain, carrot sticks, fruit, mozzarella sticks, trail mix.

Late-night munchies and the only option is vending machine fare? Pretzels and popcorn are often the better choices.

At restaurants

Start with a soup or salad before your meal. You'll end up eating less.

Split the meal with your dining companion, or eat half and bring the other half back, and you'll have lunch ready for the next day.

At the hotel

Load up the mini fridge with fruit, water, lean meats, peanut butter, yogurt and ready-made salads from grocery stores.

If the hotel offers continental breakfast, stick with yogurt, fruit, oatmeal and whole-grain bread. If you can, get a veggie omelet. Avoid pastries and muffins. Even low-fat ones. They're packed with sugar. Don't load up on carbs. They'll give you an instant boost, but you'll crash later.

On the Web

Many Web sites offer calorie counts for popular restaurants. Here are two good ones: calorie-count.com and calorieking.com.

Don't let this happen

You're at Tampa International and came unprepared because it was supposed to be a quick flight. But now your flight is delayed, and you're hungry.

You head to Quiznos and order a large Chicken Carbonara sub. That gets you 1,510 calories, 82 grams of fat, 3,750 mg of sodium. And the nutritional breakdown? About half comes from fat, the other half is split between carbs and protein.

A better choice: a small honey bourbon chicken on wheat bread. That's 310 calories, 4 grams of fat, 920 mg sodium. About 60 percent from carbs, a quarter from protein, 15 percent fat.

On the road again? Put down the doughnut 06/29/08 [Last modified: Sunday, June 29, 2008 4:30am]
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