Ahhh, summer vacation…a time to get away from the daily grind, relax, and enjoy favorite activities. Vacation is a great time to reduce stress and rejuvenate your mind, body and spirit. It’s not, however, the time to turn back on healthy lifestyle changes you worked on through the winter and spring months.
Here are a few ways to maintain healthy habits when you’re out of town and out of your normal routine.
1. Get a room with a kitchenette or refrigerator. Use your mini-fridge to stock up on healthy snacks such as hummus, vegetables, fresh fruit, and yogurt. If you have access to a kitchenette, plan one or two meals per day that you can prepare in the room. This will give you complete control on portion sizes, ingredients, and additives like sodium. A couple of additional bonuses associated with this tip: saving money by only eating out 1-2 times per day, and bring back leftovers. This can reduce the temptation to overeat the restaurant because you want to get your money’s worth.
2. Pack a cooler. This tip is great if you are going on a road trip or planning on lounging at the beach all day. Generally, food that is convenient is deep fried, processed, and loaded with sodium. If you do happen to find a healthy option, will you be able to choose it over the deep fried options, chips, or sweets? Avoid the temptation by packing healthy sandwiches for lunch. Include some snacks like 100-calorie-pack nuts, trail mix, diced fruit or fruit salad, seedless grapes, and carrot sticks. Don’t forget the water.
3. Do work out. It is easy to skip workouts while on vacation. You may be trying to fit in all your sightseeing adventures, you may not want to interrupt your travel buddy’s schedule, or by mid-afternoon or evening you are too tired. Plan on working out in the morning. Go for a walk or run on the beach, a hike, find a body weight routine you can complete in your room, or try to find a hotel with a gym or fitness center. Just try moving as much as possible before the day gets away from you.
4. Plan your restaurant meals ahead of time. Search in advance for some good restaurants that provide healthier options. Go to the restaurant’s website and check out their menu. Plan or pick out your meal ahead of time based on your nutrition goals. Once you get to the restaurant, don’t even open the menu; order what you have planned. Often, when looking over the menu, the pictures are just too enticing to resist. (Remember these photos are taken by professional advertisers who are trying to get you to purchase those food items.) Stick to your plan - even if your travel partner orders something delicious and unhealthy. Another quick tip, skip the free food offered before the meal like chips and salsa or the bread basket, etc. It’s full of calories and leaves less room for healthier options.
5. Plan on sharing or eating smaller portions. We now live in a time of over-sized portions. Twenty years ago, a plate of spaghetti included 1 cup pasta, sauce and 3 meatballs for 500 calories. Today, the typical serving of spaghetti is 2 cups pasta, sauce and 3 meatballs for 1025 calories. So a great vacation tip is to ask for a “to go” container when your food comes. Immediately place half of your order in the container to take back to your hotel and eat for lunch tomorrow. You can also ask a travel buddy if they would like to split an entrée.
6. Keep a food journal. The simple act of writing down what you eat can help you stay on track. It helps to eliminate mindless eating and can keep you focused on your nutrition goals. Another benefit of food journaling is it can remind of us what we have attained and motivate us to maintain our goals.
7. Drink water. Whether you are spending the day at the beach, lounging by a pool, hiking, or kayaking, remember to stay hydrated. Your body naturally dehydrates to stay cool. Counteract that process by drinking plenty of water. Don’t forget to limit your consumption of alcohol. Many alcoholic beverages contain high amounts of sugar that add extra calories to your daily intake and are completely devoid of nutrition. The recommendation for alcoholic drinks is no more than 2 per day for men and 1 per day for women.
8. Finally.... enjoy yourself! Use this vacation to unwind and de-stress. If you do overindulge, don’t beat yourself up over a treat on vacation. Instead, re-group, review your plan and start over that night or the next day.