Ahhh, vacation time. Kick back and do nothing. No chores, no commitments and best of all, no meal planning. You’ve worked hard and you deserve it! But since you have worked hard for your health, you deserve to keep feeling great and get the most out of your vacation too.
Here are 7 tips on how to eat healthy on vacation, without feeling like you’re diet is taking over your life.
If the idea of going on vacation brings both relief AND the dread of knowing that you’ll fall off the wagon for your healthful habits, you’re not alone. But there are a few things you can do to to make your trip amazing and help you transition back to ‘real-life’ more smoothly.
You’ve already done a bunch of work for your trip anyway. You’ve gotten vaccinations, bought new gear, researched day-trips. You have multiple to-do lists started so you can get the most out of this holiday. So why not add a few points to keep your body well-fuelled and ready for adventure while you’re at it?
1. Stick with key healthy habits
Although a vacation evokes thoughts of endless leisure time, the reality is that without a little structure, what you end up with is a lot less moving and a lot more eating. Try to keep at least some aspects of the routine you’re used to at home.
- try to stick to your usual timing for meals and snacks
- avoid skipping meals to work off extra indulgences or ‘saving up’ for bigger meals later
- get enough restful sleep, keep daytime naps to a minimum
- be mindful of choices with high amounts of sugar, fat, salt and alcohol – all foods can fit, but ask yourself how much and how often are you choosing these
Watching the amount of salt, fat, sugar and alcohol you enjoy … and by making sure you eat enough fibre, you’ll also help to control bloating and fatigue that can come with traveling which can really put a damper on your days.
2. Find fun movement
There are usually plenty of opportunities for movement during vacations that don’t have to feel like your regular exercise routine, such as swimming, walking on the beach or outdoor adventures. Most hotels and resorts also have workout facilities and may even have your new favorite exercise class.
Even small amounts of movement or stretching will help keep you feeling great throughout your vacation. Resistance bands or a travel yoga mats travel well and can help you to rejuvenate on an early morning beach!
3. Pack snacks
Before your trip, pack some healthy snacks that are full of fibre, vitamins/minerals and protein, especially for those days you plan to go on excursions or if you have specialized dietary needs. This allows you to maintain some control over your eating and avoid becoming too hungry, which often leads to poor food choices or overeating.
Some examples that travel well might include*:
- dried fruit, nuts and seeds
- high fibre granola bars
- your favorite high fibre cereal to add to the breakfast offered
- roasted chickpeas
- protein bars
*be sure to check any travel restrictions when planning snacks to pack
4. Know what foods are available
Not only will you really get to know the culture around you, but you can also eat healthy on vacation by getting to know the local foods!
Take a look at the menus offered at your destination to help you decide which items will be top-priority for sampling or special events and where you can go for familiar and healthy foods.
Knowing what fresh foods are available can also help you plan ahead, as fruits and vegetables are often widely available in warm climates and are a great addition to the snacks you bring with you.
And if you’re able to have a kitchen at your destination, explore the local markets and grocery stores. After all, food is such an important part of culture and identity and this can add so much to your vacation experience!
5. Stay hydrated
Air conditioning, travelling, hot weather, sun exposure and increased activity will mean you need to drink more to stay hydrated, keep up your energy and mood as well as maintain your gut health.
Aim for an additional 3-4 cups of water each day. Pack an empty water bottle in your luggage that you can fill up before heading to the beach or out for excursions, where water sources are considered safe. Learn more about eating and drinking safely while travelling (Health Canada Travel).
Also, be aware of alcoholic beverages – not only do these add extra calories to your day but alcohol also increases your risk of dehydration, increases appetite and reduces inhibitions. This means you might reach for more of those less-than-healthy choices more often, leading to guilt and/or feeling blah. Try alternating alcoholic beverages with low-calorie alcohol-free options.
6. Explore with mindfulness
Vacations are a time for exploring the regional fare – go ahead and try new foods! What a perfect opportunity to practice mindful eating.
- Use those first few bites to really truly savour the new flavours.
- Explore the different tastes but taking the time to tune into each flavor note.
- Take advantage of buffets to sample small amounts of new foods and be selective about what you go back for more of.
7. Stay ahead of your healthy eating challenges
Vacations are not a time-out from taking care of yourself – quite the opposite!
Take time before your vacation to think of 1 or 2 areas that may be a challenge for you. Creating a simple plan ahead of time will help you stay focused and feeling your best – during the vacation as well when it’s all over.
This is likely not the best time for a detailed eating itinerary, so stay realistic with your goals and plans. For example, if overeating is often a challenge for you, think about choosing a menu-style service for meals instead of buffets, at least most of the time.
This could also be an opportunity for you to pre-plan some meals for the first few days when you get back home. It’s hard enough shifting back into routine after a fun and relaxing holiday, never mind coming home to an empty fridge, no plan and a foggy vacation-brain!
Having a couple of meals assembled and/or cooked, waiting for you in the freezer can help with the transition back and avoid the temptation to grab take-out or other packaged convenience food.
For Canadians, the winter months are for escaping to warmer places! This might (or might not) throw a wrench in your health- and fitness-related resolutions. With virtual visits and online access to your resources, you can get the support you need, even when wintering away … so no reason to delay starting until after your trip. Some programs even include an option to put a hold on your work while you’re away, practicing what you’ve learned.
If you want some extra help setting yourself up for success, consider booking a session as part of your pre-trip preparation plans or to help you get back on track afterward! Message Angela to learn more about possible options.