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Hotel & Catered Meal Tips, Plus Ice Cream Advice!
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Hotel & Catered Meal Tips, Plus Ice Cream Advice!

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06.27.12
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Hi HG,

Help! I'm going on a business trip, and I'll be staying in a hotel (working extremely long hours) with mostly catered meals. I desperately want to stick to a smart eating and exercise plan. Any tips to help me stay on track?

Hungry Working Girl

Hi Hungry,

Don't you worry -- I travel all the time for work, so I know how to make smart eating and working out part of the plan. Check it out...

The breakfast buffet can be a little overwhelming (all those pastries!), but you can almost always find a few smart picks. Look for fresh fruit, fat-free yogurt, oatmeal, hard-boiled eggs, and smoked salmon. If you notice on day one that there aren't any decent options, stop by a supermarket or convenience store and stock up on some of the aforementioned b-fast goodies to eat in your hotel room. If your room doesn't have a mini fridge, request one.

For sandwich-platter lunches, skip the mayo-loaded scoopy salads and stick with lean deli meat. Then remove the top slice of bread from your sandwich to save some carby calories. (Or ditch both slices and have your lunch over lettuce leaves.) Instead of having chips on the side, grab some extra veggies or a piece of fruit. Click here for a mini guide to catered dinners!

When it comes to exercise, many hotels have gyms that are free to use. Some cardio -- like a fast-paced walk on a treadmill -- can be a nice way to blow off a little work steam. Not really a gym person? Just get in lots of movement throughout the day: Take the stairs instead of the elevator, do a lap or two around the building during a break, use the hotel pool, etc. You can even do some simple exercises in your hotel room, like stretching and jumping jacks. If you have some down time, walk around the city and do some exploring -- you won't even realize you're burning calories!

Because you'll be working such long hours, it's really important to stay hydrated and satisfied between meals. This way you'll be alert, energized, and less likely to confuse thirst with hunger. I always stock up on bottles of water from a nearby grocery store or mini mart -- the ones in the hotel rooms are so pricey! Also bring some shelf-stable snacks from home, and stock up locally on anything you didn't pack. Click here and here for my top emergency snacks.

Overall, just do the best you can, and don't be too hard on yourself. If the food and exercise portion of the trip doesn't go perfectly, just get right back on track afterward. Best of luck!

Hey Hungry Girl,

I am addicted to ice cream, and I don't have any self-control. I've tried doing fruit smoothies instead, but I still end up with my face in a pint of ice cream. Are there any guilt-free ways to get my ice cream fix? I'm desperate!

I Dream of Ice Cream

Hi Dreamy,

First of all, I need to make one thing clear: A lot of people think a fruit smoothie is a better pick than ice cream, but that's not always the case. Smoothies often have hundreds of calories, thanks to ingredients like juice, honey, full-fat milk, and added sugar. To answer your question, though, there are some great guilt-free answers to your ice cream cravings. It sounds like ice cream is a trigger food for you (meaning once you start eating it, you can't stop), so it's really important to stick with portion-controlled options. Skinny Cow makes some awesome single-serving ice cream cups that are low in fat and come in amazing flavors like Chocolate Fudge Brownie and Dulce de Leche. And my absolute favorite light ice cream, Dreyer's/Edy's Slow Churned, comes in portion-controlled cups too.

Small ice cream cones are another great way to limit your portion -- there's only so much ice cream those little cones can hold. The flat-bottomed cake cones have just 20 - 25 calories each, and a small sugar cone has 45 - 60 calories. Store-bought waffle-cone bowls also work. When it comes to making a single scoop go far, load it up with tons of guilt-free toppings -- chopped fruit, Fat Free Reddi-wip, some sprinkles, a little light chocolate syrup, etc. Want recipes? Here's a TV-famous sundae to get you started. And check out these THREE decadent sundae desserts. Sometimes you don't even need ice cream to get your fix. Cool Whip Free works great as an ice cream swap in freezy sandwiches -- click 'n see!

I'm also a big fan of frozen novelties, like fudge bars, low-fat ice cream sandwiches, and light ice cream cones. Look for treats with 150 calories or less and no more than 5g fat. Some brands I like are Weight Watchers, Skinny Cow, and Healthy Choice.

Finally, if you've gotta have an entire pint (we all have those days), then Arctic Zero might just be your new BFF. This ice-cream-like frozen treat has just 37 calories per half-cup serving, so you can eat the entire pint for just 150 calories. AMAZING. And it comes in crazy-good flavors like (my favorite) Chocolate Peanut Butter! Click here to see if it's sold near you, or order some online.

BTW, if you're heading out for ice cream, check out this ice-cream-shop survival guide first -- so much great info!

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