Many people work hard to get in shape before they go on vacation. They want to have that perfect beach body by the time they head for the ocean over the summer. They are determined to have thighs of steel before they head to the mountains for a ski trip. Once they get to their destination, however, all thoughts of healthy eating tend to go out the window. They are on vacation, so it is no surprise they are no longer carefully counting calories or waking up at 5:30 a.m. to go for a four mile run.
It is not relaxing to keep a constant eye on everything you eat, and no one can unwind when they are constantly worrying about the difference in calorie count between eight ounces and nine ounces of soda. This mental letting go is beneficial, but it does mean that many people come back from vacation having put back on quite a bit of the weight they worked so hard to lose or having lost muscle mass they put a great deal of effort into gaining. A few simple habits, however, can allow you to relax on vacation without needing to relax your belt when you get home.
Make your own breakfast.
If you are staying in a hotel or bed and breakfast, the odds are that you go out for breakfast when you are on vacation. You eat omelets and waffles and biscuits with sausage. There is fresh orange juice and lattes and maybe even a mimosa. An order of pancakes, however, can pack in over 600 calories. That assumes that all you eat are the pancakes instead of getting bacon or sausage with them. It also assumes that you use a measly two tablespoons of maple syrup with your pancakes. Most people use noticeably more than that.
Do not be fooled by the “healthy” options on a restaurant menu either. Many breakfast restaurants put a great deal of butter or sugar into otherwise healthy options like oatmeal, and even plain oatmeal can quickly become unhealthy when it is paired with bacon, toast slathered in butter and a mimosa.
Save both your budget and your waistline by making your own breakfast. Basic breakfast ingredients such as oats, cereal and yogurt are easily stored in even the smallest hotel rooms. You can even have scrambled eggs for breakfast as long as you have easy access to a microwave.
Do not skip meals.
An old standby for weight loss and weight control is skipping meals. This, however, is a disaster waiting to happen. When you skip a meal, you are hungrier than ever when you eat the next meal. As a result, you overeat and are more likely to make poor meal choices. Skipping meals also makes you more likely to snack in between meals, and snacks are rarely good for you. After all, when most people snack, they are not reaching for a handful of baby carrots. They are grabbing a bag of potato chips. If you want to stay healthy on vacation, eat each meal instead of skipping a meal and overindulging later.
Practice portion control.
At home, you can decide what you will cook for each meal. When you make chicken stir-fry, you know that you used one chicken breast, a single crown of broccoli and half a red bell pepper. The stir-fry you ordered in the restaurant might use twice that amount of food. Practice portion control even when your plate is piled high with delicious food. Eat only until you are no longer hungry instead of chowing down until your plate is clean. If you have leftovers, ask for a box and take them home with you. Saving some of your meal means that you not only avoided over eating, it also means that you get to enjoy your meal twice.
Eat only what you really want.
When you go on vacation, you likely want to enjoy the delicious foods and drinks that are offered in the restaurants you frequent. Just because the restaurant has a house red that they swear by or a tiramisu that is to die for does not mean that you have to order it. If you are not craving something sweet, then skip dessert. If a cocktail does not sound fabulous, then skip the drink. Desserts and alcoholic beverages are both packed with sugar, calories and fat. Passing on them until you are really in the mood for them means that they remain special, and you can savor them guilt-free when you do order them. Your wallet will also thank you. Drinks and desserts are often very expensive.
Have healthy snacks on hand.
If you are trying to eat healthy, snacking is not a good idea. That said, there are times in even the healthiest, physically fit person’s life when they simply will not make it until dinnertime without eating something. When you really need a snack, eat something healthy such as a banana, Greek yogurt or a handful of plain nuts. To make healthy snacking easier on yourself, keep a can of unsalted nuts in the cabinet or glove box of the car. Set a bundle of bananas on the bedside table or bathroom counter if you are short on space in the hotel room. When it comes to snacking, you are most likely to reach for whatever is closest. If that is a piece of fruit, you will eat a healthy snack. Otherwise, you might find yourself raiding the vending machine.
Eating healthy on vacation does not need to ruin your trip. Pack some nuts instead of bags of chips, and eat cereal in the morning instead of munching on mediocre pastries at the breakfast bar. Practice a few simple, healthy habits, and you will find that your waistline and wallet are both thankful.