School is out and many families are going on road trips or far away adventures. There seems to be an underlying rule people will diet really hard to look good for their beach getaway, then gain all the weight back while they indulge on cocktails and fried foods by the pool. While it is great to savor and enjoy foods on vacation, it is not a healthy mindset to think of being ‘off a diet’. Rather, we want to strive to eat in sustainable ways that incorporate celebrations, holidays and vacations.
A good tip is to try to choose one healthy habit to do each day that you would do if you were home. This may be exercising, filling half your plate with non-starchy vegetables, meeting your hydration goals or skipping dessert. Below are a few specific tips to consider that will allow you to enjoy the time away without feeling like you’ve undone all your hard work.
Eat your vegetables.
Choose to include some vegetables at your main meals during the day. This may be a side salad or freshly cooked mixed vegetables. Even if you’re indulging in a big meaty burger or some deep fried chicken, the positive effects of vegetables can help keep things in check for your weight and your health.
Remember to drink water throughout the day. Sugary drinks and cocktails can quickly get out of hand. Even if you plan on drinking, you may decide to give yourself a limit to how many margaritas you’ll drink before you switch to something with lower sugar and calories. Give yourself a break between alcoholic beverages by drinking a cup of water before ordering the next one.
It's okay to skip a meal.
If you had a really large dinner and are not truly hungry in the morning, you are better off not eating breakfast. Or if you eat a really big lunch and you are not hungry come dinner time, your body will appreciate a break until the morning. Just because food is available does not mean you have to eat. Try to pay attention to your body and your natural hunger cues. We do digest best around lunch time, so try to make this your biggest meal of the day. if you are going to overindulge, this would be the safest time to do so. You will likely find if you do that you can eat something lighter for dinner and will feel and sleep better overall than if you ate a really large dinner.
Remove the guilt.
So you just raided the buffet and finished your third plate - it’s okay. Adding guilt and stress to eating can be more damaging than the actual food itself. Each meal is an opportunity to do something nice for your body. If one meal was beyond what you would normally consume at home, just savor it and appreciate that you let yourself have the experience. At the next meal, stop and ask what would make you feel best and you may find you want something lighter. If not, that’s completely fine too. Try not to overthink or put too much pressure on yourself. It is important to still enjoy food.
Some people are happy to spend some time in the gym on vacation. If you’re in a beautiful location and can’t stand being stuck indoors, get out and make movement fun. It doesn’t matter what you do. Walking on the beach, swimming in the lake, or playing a game with the kids are all great options. Find something you like and try to do at least one active thing each day.
For those who are really trying to stick to a healthy eating pattern on a trip, it is best to plan ahead. Scope out restaurants or grocery stores nearby ahead of time. Have a loose plan for places you want to eat you know will have options in keeping with your preferences. Pack snacks and food items like fruit, nut butter, trail mix, and protein bars so you have a quick option to grab if you get hungry and there are limited options.
Again, it is important to still have fun and de-stress on vacation. Don’t let worries of your eating ruin the trip or your thoughts when you come home. Do the best you can to include some healthy habits each day and your body will thank you. Happy travels.