Eating Healthy While Vacationing: How To Relax Without Relaxing Your Health Standards!

You are so ready to get away from it all – you need a vacation!  So pack the sunscreen and the travel guides, and your stretchy pants.  Stretchy pants?  Well, you’re going to need them, since you’ll be gaining weight on your vacation… right?

Wrong!  You can go on vacation, have fun, have treats, and still adhere (mostly!) to your healthy eating guidelines.  Vacations don’t mean you have to gain pounds or make unhealthy choices at every meal.

10 Tips to keep your Vacation Eating Healthy:

1.    Share portions with a friend!  There is no doubt that food is a big part of enjoying many vacations. Infamous cruise buffets, exotic places with new flavors and foods, and just the feeling of doing whatever you want to do on vacation often lead to a lot more in terms of overall quantity of food than you normally have during a healthy day at home.

Sample things by sharing them with the people you are traveling with – you can all enjoy it, just a little less of it!  If you aren’t traveling with anyone, then ask the wait staff for a half portion.

2.    Drink water!  Vacation beverages can add a lot of empty calories to your day.  Have your special umbrella drink, or hot toddy by the ski lodge fireplace, but maybe only one a day. For the rest of the time, drinking water keeps you hydrated and flushes your system.  To jazz up your water vacation style, ask for a slice of fruit – and an umbrella!  Or choose a sparkling water served in a beautiful wine goblet.

NOTE: depending on where you are vacationing, sterile bottled water may be the best choice for your digestive system.

3.    Load up on the veggies & fruits!  Keeping your diet full of bright colors from veggies and fruits is a healthy idea you probably already do at home – keep it going on vacation, and you may get to sample some unique things from new lands.

4.    Easy on the sauces. That beautiful grilled fish with fresh fruit salsa goes from delicious and healthy to delicious and not so healthy if a high fat, high calorie sauce is added.  Ask for it without the sauce – or order it on the side, and you can have a little taste but not drown your healthy dreams in butter and cream.

5.    Be aware of hidden calories.  Bread before meals, appetizers, salads with the dressing on them instead of on the side, larger portions – all of these are vacation hurdles trying to ambush your health!  Try keeping a little food journal so you can track what you eat and drink, and allow yourself vacation indulgences where you really want them instead of having them sneak up on you.

6.    Salty sabotage.  Salt can add a lot of water weight and isn’t healthy when overdone for anyone – especially if you have health conditions like high blood pressure.  It can be tricky if you are eating in a lot of restaurants, which is likely on vacation.  Look for low sodium options, or simple dishes with fewer ingredients and ask for lightly salted preparations if the restaurant is open to that type of request (and it doesn’t hurt to ask!)

7.    Crafty Carbs.  Most people feel better when they are eating healthy carbs in fruits, vegetables and whole grains instead of the higher empty carbs in donuts, candy, desserts, white bread and standard pasta.  Vacation food can often be carb-heavy, leaving you tired and adding to the water weight.  Balance your choices, and try to eat heavier carb meals in the daytime when your system is burning fuel faster.

8.    Simply sweet.  Vacations are a time for living it up – but dessert can still be healthy.  Don’t have it at every meal, and look for things like berries with a little whipped cream or low fat frozen yogurt to keep it light and healthy.  Try a fruit and cheese plate.  Ask the server for suggestions on something lightly sweet to end your meal.  And if the dessert tray has a super hunk of chocolate madness calling to you, eat a very light meal to compensate for the very decadent dessert.

9.    Pack a snack.  If possible, take some of your own healthy snacks along on your vacation (or buy some when you get there to keep in your room.)  Having your own snacks along will keep you from getting too hungry and caving in to less healthy choices.  It can also help you eat smaller meals if you have a healthy from-home snack an hour before you go to dinner while on vacation.

 10. Take your walkin’ shoes!  Even beyond what you eat, make it a point to keep your body moving every day.  You don’t have to be on an extreme sporting vacation to still get exercise. Not only will it go a long way to increase the feelings of relaxation and keep you healthy, it can combat extra vacation calories. Many hotels and resorts have world-class gyms, but you can just go for a swim in the pool, or for a nice long walk and enjoy the place you have chosen for your vacation.  And if you get a chance to dance in the moonlight?  Awesome!

Now go enjoy your healthy vacation… and toss out the stretchy pants!