6 Rules for Eating on Vacation

Jenna Birch
by Jenna Birch
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6 Rules for Eating on Vacation

Vacation is all about freedom. You can wake up when you want, do what you want, go anywhere you want, eat anything you want… Well, not exactly.

If you’re abiding by healthy diet principles, then taking a vacation shouldn’t mean taking time off from nutritious eating, too. While you should approach your meals with somewhat of a YOLO mentality, it’s important not to overdo it. Reality might sink in when you get back from paradise, realize you’ve gained a couple pounds, and feel tempted to completely fall off the weight-loss wagon. “You shouldn’t worry about losing weight on vacation, but you shouldn’t have to gain any,” says Keri Gans, M.S., R.D., author of The Small Change Diet. Here, she gives tips for keeping the pounds off and still enjoying yourself.

Keep perspective You can taste a lot of food you see, especially if it’s native to the region or special vacation treats, but you have to limit yourself. For instance, Gans says if you’re craving a margarita or pina colada, have one—but don’t think that vacation means bottomless refills and orders. “The food is not the only reason you’re on vacation,” says Gans. “Remember this is not your last meal.”

Be choosy If you’re so-so on the beverage offerings, skip them and choose water so you can opt for dessert later. Or rotate your preferences. “If it’s a week-long vacation, maybe three nights you have dessert and the others you can get a fancy drink,” says Gans.

Bring your own snacks To avoid the temptation to order an easy-to-eat slice of pizza or pop-able french fries on the beach or boardwalk, pack your own snacks. “I like 100-calorie packs of almonds and KIND bars,” Gans says. “Mindful snacking is important—you won’t be starving at dinner, and you won’t be prone to overeating when you walk into a restaurant.”

Beware of the breakfast buffet Pass on any buffet for that matter. It’s better to choose a dish you’d really like from the menu, so it’s portioned out for you. If the buffet is your only option:  “Don’t pick up a plate the first time you go through the line,” Gans says. “Take a look at everything, and then decide, so you don’t stop at every station.”

Squeeze in exercise Vacations are a great time to run on the beach as the sun rises, take a walk along a scenic trail, or tap into anything that gets you moving. Try to plan movement into your daily vacation routine. “Swim, walk, explore, kayak—all of these are great,” Gans says. “In fact, I’ve even had clients lose weight on vacation, because they found they were moving more.” Vacation exercise can easily be fun. So, do it!

Check in with yourself Upon return, you might be scared apprehensive to step on the scale and the damage that was done, if any. Gans says face the fear. “Get back on track immediately,” she says. “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, so weigh yourself and face the music—and then let it go.” Whether you’re up, down, or the same, don’t dwell on the number. Just go right back to your healthy habits—you’ll regain comfort in your usual eating routine in no time!

What’s your eating strategy when on vacation? Do you still log into MyFitnessPal?

About the Author

Jenna Birch
Jenna Birch

Jenna Birch is a health and lifestyle writer. She has written for many web and print publications, including Marie Claire, Runner’s World, mom.me and WomansDay.com. As a nutrition and fitness junkie, she’s a lifelong athlete, major college sports fan and developing yogi—but still can’t resist the allure of an occasional chocolate lava cake. (Everything in moderation, right?) For more, visit her at jennabirch.com or follow her on Twitter.  

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6 responses to “6 Rules for Eating on Vacation”

  1. Avatar Shama Horton Dawson says:

    I stayed on top of my eating on vacation. I exercised most days that we were gone! Not to mention the extra walking. I ended up losing about 6 pounds!! And, MFP was my constant companion!!

  2. Avatar Henrycars says:

    Great tips! I feel much better being in a swimsuit all day when I’ve done some planks/pushups when I wake up. Staying active definitely helps, too. I like to try small portions of many different dishes and make sure to drink plenty of water. Getting a tan always helps you feel confident 🙂

  3. Avatar Dawilama says:

    I bring my workout dvds and exercise everyday in addition to extra walking etc..moderate my eating while indulging a little in some delicacies I usually avoid 🙂 and of course logging into mfp to stay on track! 🙂

  4. Avatar PaganLee says:

    Super post ! Je pars en vacances en Espagne demain et j’apprehendais un peu vu que je ne vais pas enregistrer mon alimentation… mais ces conseils son clairs et plein de bon sens alors je vais les appliquer tout en me faisant plaisir. Merci Jenna 🙂

  5. Avatar PaganLee says:

    Super post ! Je pars en vacances en Espagne demain et j’apprehendais un
    peu vu que je ne vais pas enregistrer mon alimentation… mais ces
    conseils sont clairs et plein de bon sens alors je vais les appliquer
    tout en me faisant plaisir. Merci Jenna 🙂

  6. Avatar dalovelee says:

    I went to the beautiful island of Mykonos and maintain exercise via walking and dancing alot. I didn’t kick myself for having that one cup of gelato and ate fish and enjoyed pastries….Sadly I think it’s those all you can eat island resorts that I have seen in the Caribbean that are the worst for people trying to watch their weight. Those all you can eat buffets tempt people into thinking get your money’s work and people gorge themselves silly.

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