Eating Healthy on Vacation: Can it be Done?

summer-travelsIt’s that time of year again… summer travel! The thing I hear over and over again is this. “Well, I’m ready to start eating healthy, but first I’ve got this vacation.” There are so many things wrong with this statement, and let me tell you why.

First of all, getting a healthy diet in place, even right before a big vacation, is super important. It is never too early or too late to start implementing those diet tweaks that are going to work towards improving your health. Now is the time to start. The sooner the better.

Secondly, these changes are meant to be permanent lifestyle changes, not a temporary fix. I see people time and time again work so hard at improving lab numbers on a sheet of paper, only to let their gains slip back once they hit the mark their doctor was looking for. Don’t let that be you! Take steps, even if small, tiny ones, to improve your diet for the long haul.

So all that being said, you don’t check your diet at the hotel front door! Your “new” diet and lifestyle goes WITH you on vacation.

Now, I realize this is easier said than done, especially when a new way of eating is not yet an ingrained habit. Here are a few tips you can use on your next vacation to make eating healthy a whole lot easier.

  1. If at all possible, stay at a place with a full kitchen. That way you can prepare most of your foods at “home.” Plus, you save a whole lot of money (and time) on eating out. That makes more time for fun outdoors!
  2. Ditch the fast food. If traveling by road, stop at grocery stores instead of fast food. For the same price as a fast food meal for 4, you can easily buy a loaf of bread, deli meat, condiments, etc and make your own sandwiches. Or you can buy them at the store’s deli. Whatever you do, say no to fast food.
  3. Pack snacks! As much as possible, bring your own healthy snacks on trips. Personally I like to pack baggies with dried fruit and nuts. That keeps me away from sugary things you find in convenient stores and again, saves time. In my opinion that means more time at the beach and less time searching for food.
  4. When you do eat out, plan it out. Research restaurants carefully so that they are not only enjoyable places but also have healthy options. Going in with a game plan by reviewing menus online can really help keep you on track.
  5. Hit the gym! Or at the very least, plan in some exercise during your trip. Again, this is not a vacation from healthy habits. If you are a runner, plan a morning run through the city or along the beach. If you like the gym, maybe there is a workout room in the hotel. Or if walking is your thing, get out there and spend the day sight seeing. Keeping up the movement will help when those little splurges do come along.
  6. Speaking of splurges, think 80/20 rule. Basically, eat healthy 80% of the time and allow for some fun foods 20% of the time. This gives you some freedom for, say, an ice cream on the boardwalk, or a dessert after dinner, but still reminds you to stick to healthy eating most of the time. Along with continuing the exercise, you will be far less likely to gain weight while out having fun.
  7. Lastly, try not to plan all the fun around food. A vacation is a chance to see a new place or visit with old friends. Don’t make food the focus. Plan adventurous outings, meet ups with friends, or even spa days to relax and rejuvenate. Food is important, of course, but as I’ve said all along, keep to your goals. Enjoy the place and the people and come back with amazing memories and experiences.

Hope that gives you a few ideas to stay on track this summer, even with all those fun summer plans. Just remember, a vacation is a great time to get away and relax, but it is not a break from your health! Eat well, stay well, and continue to enjoy those fun getaways!

About Danielle VenHuizen

Registered Dietitian, Certified LEAP Therapist