When you’re on vacation, eating healthy foods can be a real challenge. With the temptations of all-you-can-eat buffets and around-the-clock dining on cruise ships and at all-inclusive resorts, you can easily gain five, 10 or more pounds by the time you return home. But there’s no reason why your vacation has to derail your healthy eating habits.
To avoid coming home with extra baggage around your waistline, try these 10 tips for eating healthy foods while on vacation so you can eat sensibly and still enjoy yourself on your trip:
1. Fight the urge to splurge.
Naturally, when you travel, you’ll want to try new things, including the local cuisine which often includes extravagant buffets and all-you-can-eat specials. But before you load up plateful after plateful “to get your money’s worth,” consider the calories and fat content of the food you’re about to devour, and how hard you’ll have to exercise to work it off. Like the old saying goes, “A second on the lips, a lifetime on the hips.” Unless you want to bring home extra baggage around your mid-section, it’s important that you fight the urge to splurge. Make sensible food choices and use portion control. Just because a restaurant serves huge portions doesn’t mean you have to eat it all. Share an entrée with someone, take leftovers home in a “doggy bag,” or ask for half-sized portions when ordering. If you’re not that hungry, opt for a child-sized meal or order a healthy appetizer for your meal.
2. Make special food prep requests.
When ordering meals at restaurants, you might want to make special requests for how your food is prepared or served so you can enjoy a healthier meal. For instance, you may want to ask for baked chicken instead of fried, or ask for sauces and salad dressings to be served on the side so you can pour on as little or as much as you want. This is a good idea since many sauces and condiments are packed with calories, fat, salt and sugar content. Of course, if you have any dietary restrictions, you’ll want to give your travel destination advance notice so they can accommodate your needs.
3. Drink alcoholic beverages in moderation.
You don’t have to deprive yourself of everything, such as having a glass of wine with dinner. But the key is to sip libations in moderation and not guzzle them. The main reason is that most cocktails are loaded with empty calories. For instance, just one 8-oz. pina colada contains about 400 calories, and one 8 oz. margarita contains about 500 calories. Plus, alcohol can cause dehydration, so it’s best to drink in moderation or not at all.
4. Stay active on your trip to offset extra calories.
Chances are your itinerary will be packed with sightseeing treks and excursions that will require plenty of walking, hiking, swimming, etc. Staying active will help burn off some of the extra calories you consume on your trip. So go ahead and participate in all the activities your destination has to offer.
5. Limit yourself to one treat per day.
You’ll probably want to have breakfast in bed one morning or order room service when you have a craving for a pizza or a slice of cheesecake. It’s your vacation so go ahead and enjoy these amenities, but try to limit treats like these to one per day, and then make healthier food choices the rest of the time.
6. Choose healthier menu items at restaurants.
When ordering at a restaurant, choose healthier items, but don’t just choose them because they’re healthy. Make sure to choose something you actually like. Otherwise, you won’t enjoy your meal and may end up feeling deprived. These feelings can manifest later when you’re at a convenience store and tempted to load up on candy or chips.
To help find healthy restaurants to dine at locally, there are many mobile phone apps and websites you can use that provide restaurant directions, reviews, menu items, prices, etc. Two of the top free travel apps that put restaurant information at your fingertips are Yelp and Trip Advisor. To get Yelp for your Android or iPhone, go to http://www.yelp.com/yelpmobile. To get Trip Advisor for your iPhone or iPod, Android, Nokia or Windows mobile phone or Android Tablet or Apple iPad, go to http://www.tripadvisor.com/apps.
7. Don’t use the mini bar.
Do yourself a favor and ban the use of the mini bar (the little refrigerator in your room that is stocked with unhealthy snacks at astronomical prices). You’ll be much better off health-wise and money-wise if you steer clear of the mini bar all together.
8. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
It’s easy to get dehydrated when traveling, especially if you’re in a hot or humid climate or if you’re out in the sun more than you’re used to. Make sure you pack plenty of water in your car, ice chest, backpack, hotel room, and purse, and always take bottles of water with you everywhere you go to avoid becoming dehydrated.
9. Eat five daily servings of fruits and vegetables.
Eating healthy foods on vacation includes eating your five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. This will provide you with important antioxidants, vitamins and fiber to keep your digestion on track and give you the best chance at avoiding illness while on your trip.
10. Eat only when you’re hungry and don’t over-eat.
Just because it’s lunchtime or dinnertime doesn’t mean you have to partake in the feast if you aren’t hungry. While traveling, it’s’ a good idea to eat lighter meals so you don’t get bloated or uncomfortable, and when you start to feel full, stop eating. Contrary to what your parents may have told you, you don’t have to “clean your plate.” If you have any leftovers, ask for them to be wrapped “to go” so you can enjoy them later when you’re hungry again.
By following these tips for eating healthy foods while on vacation, you’ll be able to enjoy yourself without packing on unwanted pounds during your trip.