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What are your plans for your summer vacation? Maybe you’re going on an exotic journey to a foreign country or a road trip with friends. Either way, summer travels tend to make weight-conscious people anxious. It’s easy to gain a few pounds when you’re enticed by foods you don’t normally eat, especially when healthier options are limited. Meals may be served in larger portions, or you might overindulge without even noticing. It can be easy to throw all caution aside and give your healthy eating regimen a break, especially if you’re unable to plan your own meals.
According to a 2016 study, adults going on a 1 to 3-week vacation gained anywhere from 1 to 7 pounds during their trips, even with increased exercise. Some even put on as much as seven pounds. This may not seem like a big deal, but if you don’t go out of your way to lose that extra vacation weight after the vacation, it can add up.
Of course, you should not deprive yourself of enjoying your summer travels. You should indulge and try new things because this is part of the joy of traveling. Vacation time is probably not an ideal time to focus on losing weight, but it isn’t a bad idea to think about maintaining the weight you are at. Here are a few practical tips that’ll help you manage your weight and still make the most of your trip!
If you’re traveling abroad with friends or a tour group, whether you’re walking around the city or taking a guided bus trip, you may not get lunch exactly when you’re ready for it. To stay energized and keep hunger at bay so that you don’t overeat later, you should start the morning right with a balanced breakfast.
Many hotels will serve a continental breakfast with a variety of choices. Go for fresh fruits to start your day with vitamins and minerals. Eggs or plain yogurt are excellent sources of protein. Some breakfast places may even offer hard cheese and nuts, which contain healthy and satisfying fats.
Often on vacation, we stay up late and sleep in or get up much earlier than we’re used to just to make it on time for a specific tour. This makes it easy to stray from your routine and snack more frequently. Try to stick to your usual schedule so, at the very least, when you're surrounded by indulgences, you won’t be starving and tempted to overdo it. Try to eat every 3 to 4 hours to keep your blood sugar stable.
Traveling by plane? Bus? Car? It isn’t a bad idea to think ahead and pack some of your favorite high-protein, high-fiber snacks like trail mix, dried chickpeas, or a minimally-processed food bar. That way, at least you have something to keep you from being famished. Does this seem impossible on a trip abroad? Find time to go to the local grocery or convenience store and pick up a few things to keep you satisfied without compromising your health.
Chances are you’ll be eating most of your meals in restaurants. Try to order simply prepared foods and know that grilled, broiled, and baked are going to be healthier than fried and smothered. If you know you’re going to a meal that includes something you really want to indulge in, make the other meals you consume that same day healthier to balance things out.
This sounds easier said than done. Many people find themselves less inhibited on vacation due to fewer responsibilities, but this is where the calories add up quickly and weight gain becomes imminent. Fruity margaritas and fancy cocktails can add anywhere from 500 to 800 calories a drink. If you’re going to have more than one every day, try to stick to liquor with soda water, wine spritzers, or light beers, which run around 70 to 100 calories a serving.
Typically, on trips where there is a lot of walking or sightseeing, this isn’t a problem. If your vacation involves you primarily in a car or on a lounge chair in the sun with a cocktail, however, you are going to want to fit in some physical activity to offset the fun vacation calories you may not want to deny yourself.
Food is a huge part of traveling, and you should experience the food and fun your destination has to offer. However, it’s also important to remember that moderation is key and that planning can save you the trouble of losing the extra weight after your trip. By following the tips above, you can maintain your weight and make the most out of your vacation.
Carrie Gabriel studied nutrition at California State University-Los Angeles and got her RDN through the Coordinated Dietetics Program there. She works as a dietitian for different corporate wellness companies, creating recipes for cooking demos and content for nutrition seminars.
She created her company, Steps2Nutrition, in 2012 in hopes of working more one on one with busy professionals and their specific nutritional needs. She has an advanced certification in weight management and specializes in gluten and dairy free meal preparation for various clients.
You can find some of Carrie’s healthy and delicious recipes and meal tips on her website, www.steps2nutrition.com, and on her Instagram and Twitter account, @steps2nutrition.