When planning a vacation, it’s easy to think that it’s a break from everything — including healthy eating habits.
However, maintaining a balanced diet during your trip is crucial to keep extra pounds at bay and to feel your best.
When traveling, people often fall out of their regular eating routine.
“Fortunately, there are steps you can take to eat healthy and not overindulge while enjoying your vacation,” says Steven Yale, MD, an internal medicine physician at Scripps Coastal Medical Center Vista.
Here are eight helpful tips to eat healthy while seeing the sights, so you return with memories, not extra weight.
Bringing your own snacks can help you resist fast food or convenience store items when you're on a road trip. Healthy choices include string cheese, cheese sticks, fresh fruits, nuts and protein bars. Snacks keep you full, provide nutrients and stop you from skipping meals, preventing overeating later.
Before traveling, check with the Transportation Security Administration to see which foods are allowed on planes, trains or ships.
Hotels typically fill mini bars with sugary, high calorie treats and drinks. Rather than indulging in the mini bar, consider visiting a nearby farmers market or supermarket to get snacks. Fill your room with simple foods like fruits, nuts, seeds and cut vegetables and don't forget to drink lots of water.
If you need help resisting those extra calories, consider requesting the hotel to empty the mini bar before your arrival.
While vacation schedules vary from your local routine, don’t skip the first meal of the day. A healthy breakfast can jump-start your metabolism and help you avoid overeating later in the day.
“A balanced breakfast that includes lean protein, fruits and whole grains can provide energy for your day’s activities and keep your eating habits on track,” Dr. Yale says.
If you’re at a resort, enjoy the breakfast buffet and eat healthy foods to feel full and satisfied.
Vacations let you try new and different foods. It’s fine to enjoy yourself but watch how much you eat, especially high-fat, high calorie menu selections. If you want to try a high-calorie dish, share it with someone.
Also, make sure to balance your meals. If you had a big lunch, have a lighter dinner.
“The trick is to monitor portion sizes, eat slowly and savor every bite,” Dr. Yale says.
Having a kitchen lets you cook your own food, giving you power over what and how much you eat. “This can help you avoid the extra calories that often come with restaurant meals and takeout,” Dr. Yale says.
If a kitchen isn’t an option, even a refrigerator can help to store healthier snack choices and meals. Make shopping for ingredients part of your vacation experience. Try to include fruits and vegetables with your meals.
Experiment with local produce and items you might not be able to get at home. Check out the farmers market, buy bread from bakeries in town and search for small grocery stores with unique items.
You don’t need to restrict yourself from the culinary delights your vacation spot offers. Exploring local cuisine is part of the vacation experience.
But a few thoughtful choices can make a world of difference. When you do eat out, try to opt for smaller, local restaurants which often offer dishes made from fresh, local ingredients.
To eat less, share meals or ask to save half before it comes and eat it later.
This might not directly affect what you eat, but walking can certainly help balance out any extra calories consumed. Strolling through museums, a new city or on the beach is a chance to explore while burning up calories.
“Walking is a great way to explore a new place and it also helps you stay active. Wearing comfortable shoes can encourage you to walk more and burn off those extra calories,” Dr. Yale says.
Dehydration is common when traveling, especially when you’re doing a lot of walking. So don’t forget to drink plenty of water while you're busy exploring.
Staying hydrated is crucial. Water aids in digestion and helps you feel full, reducing the tendency to snack mindlessly. Try to limit alcohol, as it can dehydrate you and add unnecessary calories. Carry a reusable water bottle to make sure you always have water on hand.
These tips aim to guide you in making healthier choices on vacation without making you feel restricted.
“Remember, it’s about balance,” Dr. Yale says. Enjoy your vacation, try new food, and treat yourself occasionally, but don’t let food be the focus of your trip. It’s better to think of it as your time to relax and recharge.”