Whether it’s two weeks at the cottage, a road trip with the kids or wine-tasting in France, a summer getaway can make diet-conscious people feel anxious. Gaining a few pounds might seem inevitable when you’re enticed by delicious foods that you don’t normally eat, often served in larger portions.
It’s too easy to throw caution to the wind and give your healthy diet a break too, especially if you’re unable to plan your own meals. What difference will a week or two of overindulging make?
According to a 2016 study from the University of Georgia, most adults going on a one- to three-week vacation gained one pound during their trip, even with increased exercise. Some, though, put on as much as seven pounds.
One pound may not sound like much. But if you don’t take if off after your vacation, that extra pound adds up year after year.
I don’t suggest you deprive yourself on your summer holiday. You’re supposed to try new foods and indulge a little while on vacation.
If you’ve been successfully losing weight for the past few months, a vacation is not the time to try to lose more. Instead, maintaining your weight is a realistic goal – and one that still requires effort.
Practice the following seven tips to help you eat healthfully - and modestly - during your summer getaway.
Start the day right
Eating a healthy breakfast sets the tone for a day of mindful eating. If you skip breakfast, you’ll be more likely to make poor choices – and overeat – at lunch. Breakfast also tends to be the easiest vacation meal to get right.
If you’re in a hotel that serves a continental breakfast, stick with choices such as fresh fruit, yogurt, hard boiled eggs, oatmeal, bran cereal and whole grain toast with nut butter. And limit yourself to one plate. If ordering from a menu, smart choices include yogurt parfaits, oatmeal or poached eggs with toast.
Since lunches and dinners are often larger and more indulgent on vacation, I often advise my clients to skip the starch at breakfast and stick with protein, fruit and vegetables. For example, Greek yogurt and berries (no granola) or poached eggs on a bed of spinach (no toast) and fruit salad.
Stick to a schedule
On vacation, it’s easy to lose your usual routine by sleeping in, snacking more often and eating meals at irregular intervals. If you stick to a regular eating schedule, you won’t become overly hungry and you’ll be less tempted to eat high calorie snacks between meals.
Eat every four hours – three meals plus one or two snacks – to keep your energy level stable and hunger at bay.
If traveling by plane, train or car, be prepared with healthy foods so you won’t have to buy something you normally wouldn’t eat. Pack portable, protein-rich snacks such as nuts and dried apricots and healthy energy bars (e.g. Elevate Me Bar, Bounce Energy Ball, Larabar, Simply Protein Bar, Vega One Bar).
Even a latte made with low fat milk or soy milk sipped while sight-seeing counts as a snack.
For road trips, pack a cooler with fresh fruit, raw vegetables and hummus, yogurt, Babybel cheese, hard-boiled eggs, healthy sandwiches and water to stay hydrated. En route, visit a grocery store to restock your cooler with snacks and lunches.
Request a small refrigerator for your hotel room so you can store healthy snacks.
Indulge, don’t overindulge
When it comes to splurging on treats, moderation is the key. Every city has unique foods and treats you shouldn’t pass up.
Your best strategy: allow yourself one treat per day. If it’s only a taste you want, enjoy a small portion of whatever you like. There’s no rule that you have to finish it all.
At home you know exactly what you’re eating. In restaurants, though, you usually don’t have a clue.
If you’re going to be eating most of your meals in restaurants, order simply prepared foods such as baked, broiled or grilled meat, chicken and seafood. Substitute starchy side dishes with an extra order of vegetables.
Share an entrée or order two appetizers instead of a main.
Sipping a cooler or marguerita won’t break your diet, but if you drink a few each day you’ll do more than weaken your resolve to eat healthfully. Consider than one vodka cooler can add as many as 300 calories and 8 teaspoons worth of sugar to your diet.
The University of Georgia study attributed participants’ weight gain to increased calories from alcohol. Average consumption while holidaying was 16 drinks per week, up from eight prior to vacation.
Summer cocktails that are easier on the waistline include light coolers (80 to 110 calories), light beer (95 calories), wine spritzers (50-75 calories) and cocktails made with soda water (70 calories).
Without the demands of work to prevent you from exercising, you should be able to fit in a workout every day. Doing so will offset some of the extra calories that you don’t want to deny yourself.
Unless you’re going to be walking all day sightseeing, plan for an hour of moderate physical activity each day.
All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.