“Just shoot me now!” My grandmother used to say that when things got so frustrating that there seemed to be no hope. Why prolong the agony? Why put off the inevitable? Just shoot me now!
Well, that’s about how I feel this morning! I have already begun to worry about what to eat on vacation. Even though I haven’t lost much weight, I do feel that I’ve made some major changes in the way I eat. We had pizza last night and I not only read labels until I found the one with the least amount of sodium (a 400mg difference!), but ate only two small slices. (Yes, I’ll make my own this summer, but I need time to experiment a little with ingredients.) I don’t want all of my newly formed habits to fall by the wayside, even for two weeks.
I know many people would just say, “relax- it’s your vacation”, but I don’t think that philosophy helps anyone, especially me. That line of thinking leads to “it’s your birthday”, “it’s Christmas”, “it’s Easter”… and pretty soon there are no healthy eating times in between! Besides, I’m now taking three blood pressure medications and cholesterol medicine. Ignoring what I put in my mouth would be like taking Excedrin for my headache and then banging my head with a bat.
So I have begun my search for solutions to the problem of being on the road 24/7 for at least six days. Of course solution one is to pack my own breakfast foods or eat carefully and mindfully at the hotel. That worked quite well for us last year. Almost any breakfast item you can eat at home is easy to eat in your room, since most have a refrigerator, microwave, and coffee maker. Even the items offered in the lobby are usually regular items that you would have at home, except for the doughnuts of course, and thankfully I don’t like doughnuts.
You would think that the same thing applies to dinner, except that finding a grocery store, shopping , cooking, and then cleaning up is just not something I’m in the mood to do after I’ve been traveling for ten to twelve hours. I think we only did it a couple of times last summer.
Lunch is bound to be “fast food” because of time and convenience.
So, I’ve started searching for suggestions and solutions. The American Heart Association website and others give general suggestions, such as eat grilled items rather than fried. Don’t eat the chips at Mexican restaurants. Eat the taco salad, but not the “bowl”. Get your dressings on the side. Eat the smallest burger on the menu. Don’t eat at a buffet unless you start with fruit and salad; then eat only steamed items and no seconds. Don’t drink soda. Don’t eat dessert. Most of the suggestions are things we all have memorized!
What I have decided to do, and this is the depressing part, is check the menus for ten typical “road restaurants” and make notes ahead of time so I will know what to order. Sounds logical and intelligent doesn’t it? There are only a handful of restaurants that are always on the side of the highway in every major city. They all have websites with nutrition information. Easy task…right?
Oh, my gosh! I may never eat out again! I’ll just take some bread and peanut butter and have a sandwich before I fall into bed.
I started with the idea that sodium would be my worst enemy while on the road. I’ll ignore a few extra calories, stay away from obvious fat sources, and concentrate on getting as little extra salt as possible with my order. I decided to start with Denny's since they have senior discounts, a full menu, convenient hours, and lots of locations. I think we ate at Denny’s three times last summer.
Reading the Denny’s nutrition information chart, with sodium levels as the target ingredient, is enough to give you a heart attack before you even pick up a fork! Remember that our goal is to consume between 1,200 and 2,000mg of sodium per day.
Let’s start with breakfast. The Hearty Wheat pancakes sound healthy. 950mg of sodium! Veggie cheese omelet? 940. Feel like a “slam”? 1,500 to 3,000+. The Southwestern Sizzlin’ Skillet, which we have eaten before, has 2,140mg of sodium.
Lunch? Even the Boca veggie burger has 1,300mg of sodium. The others range from 1,410mg to a whopping 4,120mg. The lowest sodium level is actually found in the bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich!
Dinner starts at 590mg for the senior grilled chicken (guess that will be on my list) and goes up to 2,580 for country fried steak. Don’t even add a side. The green beans have 400mg, vegetable rice pilaf, 820.
So, “I’ll have the senior grilled chicken, a wedge of lettuce, and a glass of water…”
Just shoot me now. Or tell me where to eat! Please…