No one wants to come home from a holiday vacation packing extra pounds in addition to great souvenirs and fond memories. Yet even the most dedicated, healthy eater can find it difficult to maintain good dietary habits while traveling. New surroundings, new cuisines, a need for convenience and all that appetite-building activity can tempt you into making poor dining choices. Nevertheless, it is possible to stay on track while on the road.
“Just because you’re on vacation, it doesn’t mean your food conscience — that little voice inside that tells you what’s healthy or unhealthy to eat — needs to go on vacation, too,” says Millie Wilson, a registered dietician with My Fit Foods, a unique retail concept that specializes in handcrafted, fresh, grab-and-go meals as well as meal-planning services. “In fact, when you’re on a trip, eating well is even more important so you can feel energized and healthy, and able to enjoy every moment of your vacation.”
However, healthier dining while on vacation doesn’t have to mean sacrificing flavor. Here are four tips to help ensure you make better food choices while still savoring the fun of your trip:
- Don’t delay dining
With so many things to see and do on your vacation, it’s easy to forget to eat — until you find yourself so hungry you’ll eat just about anything. Extreme hunger is a recipe for binging and unhealthy choices.
“After about three hours without food, blood sugar begins to fall,” Cleveland dietician Amy Jamieson-Petonic says on WebMD. “Once you’ve crossed the five-hour mark, your blood sugar begins to plummet, and you grab whatever you can to refuel.”
Instead of letting your hunger reach crisis point, try to stick to your regular dining schedule. Pack some healthy snacks in your travel tote or handbag to tide you over in case you get hungry between meals.
- Map out healthy meals
Just as you planned other aspects of your trip — the sights you’ll see, how you’ll get there, etc. — it’s important to plan meals, too. Make a map of where and when you will eat to avoid unhealthy temptations.
Resources like HealthyDiningFinder.com can help you locate restaurants that serve healthy and delicious fare, like My Fit Foods. The retail concept is the first-ever restaurant to have its entire menu certified to meet Healthy Dining’s nutrition criteria.
- Avoid liquid calories
It’s fine to indulge with a little imbibing, but avoid going overboard and look for lighter options. Cocktails can be loaded with calories; a pina colada can pack more than 600 calories and a Long Island Iced Tea can ring in at nearly 800 calories! Since those calories are in liquid form — and taste so good — it’s easy to consume a lot of them at a time and not realize the impact until you step on the scale later.
Choose less calorie-intense alcoholic options such as wine, light beer, a rum and Coke (about 65 calories), gin with diet tonic (115 calories) or a cosmopolitan (150 calories).
- Walk, hike, bike, swim and jog it off
Maintaining your physical activity level can help keep you in the healthful mindset you need in order to make better food choices. But who wants to take the time to exercise while on vacation? You do — and you don’t have to spend a single minute in the hotel gym to get in plenty of physical activity. Many fun things to do on vacation also involve beneficial exercise.
Walking is one of the best ways to see and experience a new location, and it’s a great way to offset any extra calories you might consume on your trip. Whenever possible, get out of the car and walk through the city or town you’re visiting. Go for a long, brisk walk on the beach, climb that challenging nature trail, frolic in the surf, climb that mountain or bike through town. It’s always possible to find ways to incorporate everyday exercise into your vacation activities.
Making better dining choices while on vacation can be as simple as planning ahead, trying new things and listening to your food conscience.