Although our ski season on the East coast is winding down, many New Yorkers will soon head west to enjoy some spring skiing. From December to mid March my family skis every weekend in Vermont. There’s a saying that if you can ski in the East you can ski anywhere. Our children have skied in sub-zero weather, they have skied on ice (is that skating?) and they have skied in rain. When we’re in Utah and there’s a bit of poorly covered terrain a flag goes up to alert skiers, no flags in Vermont when you ski over rock you realize it quickly. As a nutritionist, my biggest ski challenges occur off the slopes. While at Beaver Creek the lodge has sushi and a gold medal salad bar, in Vermont it’s the eating equivalent of skiing on ice. I think, if you can eat healthfully at an East coast mountain, you can eat well anywhere.
Whether you are a beginner skier or expert skier I thought you could use some ski lessons. Many of these “skills” come as a result of falling, no reason you shouldn’t benefit from my tumbles:
1. Pre-order groceries
Many ski accommodations come complete with a kitchen or kitchenette. We have a condo set-up in Vermont. And while it’s nice to have a stove and a refrigerator I’ve found the likelihood of finding organic produce or grass-fed meat slim. Vermonters, don’t write to me, I know you have quality food but they do not at our isolated market near the mountain. I do a small Fresh Direct order and take it with us. If you’re traveling out west many hotels’ concierges will stock a fridge so that you have some necessities waiting for you. If you get in late or have small children some healthy cereal, yogurts, milk and fruit waiting can help you avoid ski lodge breakfast (or in ski terms a cliff jump). Consider post ski snacks when placing an order or grocery shopping (see below).
2. If you bring it they will eat it
While there is nothing sexy about toting a reusable shopping bag of food through an airport, eating Doritos from State News or hitting the Burger King near the Vail/Eagle airport is even worse. I have honed my families’ travel menu. While I used to bring adult snacks (nuts, cut veggies, cut fruit) and additional kids snacks (crackers, popcorn, muffins). I quickly realized that if the kids were hungry celery and carrots were gobbled up, berries were exciting and nobody was complaining. While this may seem cruel, not to worry there’s plenty of opportunity for kids’ food ahead.
You’ll need: sturdy plastic containers, thin/lightweight ice packs you can get at seafood counters, a reusable shopping bag (much lighter weight than a backpack).
3. Jacket Snacks
It’s always amazing to me when you look around a ski slope that all of the people you see managed to get themselves (and maybe their children) out the door to ski. With the layers of clothing, helmets (much more important that nutrition, if you’re reading this and don’t use a helmet close your computer and get one), gloves and in the east hand-warmers leaving the house requires organization, patience and time. Once you’re out, it’s the greatest thrill ever but after a few runs we’re generally cold and ready for a break. In the lodge skiers are consuming hot chocolate with whipped cream, breakfast burritos, waffles and bacon. All very tempting but there’s no way I am skiing after a burrito or buttoning my ski pants if hot chocolate became habitual. In addition to Chap Stick, tissues and a credit card I always have a jacket snack.
My fave jacket snacks: tea bags (tazo makes a delicious orange spice tea), Justin’s individual packs of almond or peanut butter , Zing Bars, empty altoid case filled with nuts.
4. Don’t let loose at lunch.
If you don’t eat cotton candy at the circus or supersized candy at the movies chances are you’re an adult and know that some things aren’t warranted when you care about your health or weight. Bowls made of bread, chili (already fatty on it’s own) with the works, clam chowder from New England can go on that list. No matter how festive and “mountainy” these items feel, skiing doesn’t burn that many calories (thought it’s in the vicinity of 400 calories an hour, in an hour on slopes you probably actually ski 20 minutes tops).
Suggest ski lunches: check out the salad bar (I find there’s always hot sauce lurking and this and olive oil make a tasteless salad enjoyable), perhaps a potato (baked potatoes with veggies, salsa and a little cheese is a decent choice), vegetarian chili or tomato-based soup in a real bowl.
5. Apres Ski= often unhealthy
There’s good reason skiers are hungry at après ski time or about 3 or 4pm. If you are jet-lagged you’ll feel as though it’s dinner time and then there’s appetite factor after skiing all day, if you ski all day. I have 2 options for après ski. One is to “après” at home. Another, highly strategic, move is to simple make a dinner reservation at 5-6pm so that you sit down to a real meal instead of snacks when famished.
Approved après ski foods: Food Should Taste Good Chips , my absolute #1 chip, olives, lowfat cheese such as Cabot reduced fat cheddar, light beer,wine and seltzer for spritzers.
6. You’ve been eating like an “expert”, only one mogul (or meal) remains.
The nice thing about dinner, while skiing, is that for dinner you are on your own and not in a ski lodge. While heavy foods abound there are many healthy options available. My favorite out to eat rule is 1 or 2 of 4, no more! To me there are 4 areas of dinner to be mindful of: bread, booze, dinner starch and dessert. Pick your pleasure and skip the other areas. Make sense?
It’s so easy to loosen the reins on a ski vacation. I’ve written about my misadventures in Fast Food Slaytons and I’m Fat. I’m hoping the combination of reading about my “falls” and taking note of the “ski lessons” you will enable you to cruise the whole way.
What are your biggest ski-food indulgences? Any ski lessons you’d like to offer?