Vacation is a time to relax, unwind, and explore a new location. So it comes as no surprise that many people tend to gain weight while they’re away; with sugary cocktails, local cuisine, and lazy beach days, you might find yourself going from bathing suit-ready to hiding under a baggy cover-up.
But it doesn’t have to be that way! It is possible to have a great time without sacrificing fun — or sabotaging all that hard work you put in before your trip. These expert-approved tips will keep you on track while you’re clocked out. Most importantly, make sure you are still enjoying that much-deserved R&R. After all, not relaxing is one of the 40 Habits That Make You Sick and Fat
“Plan Ahead. Pick out what restaurants you want to try before your trip. Look for grocery stores in the area where you can stock up on healthy items. Pack snacks if you're going to be out and about for most of the day.” — Lauren Manganiello, MS, RD, CDN, private practice dietitian and personal trainer in NYC
Pick Your Indulgences
“Remember that vacations are about more than food. Spending time with loved ones and seeing new sights and having new experiences are what vacations are really about. But allow for a splurge or two during your vacation. Why go to Louisiana without getting a beignet or to Chicago without trying some deep dish pizza? Allow yourself a splurge, enjoy it, but then move on and get back on track. Vacations can easily become a free-for-all, and that mentality can spill over to when you get back home.“ — Kristie LeBeau, MPH, RN, RDN, Owner/Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Fresh Approach Nutrition, Inc.
Don’t Eat Out for Every Meal
“To save both calories and money during your trip, try eating in for one meal a day. Pack some tried-and-true breakfast options in your luggage, like lower-sugar instant oatmeal, whole-grain breakfast cereal, power bars or breakfast bars (look for brands lower in sugar and saturated fat but high in protein and fiber). You can also find a local market and stock up on fresh fruit to have in your hotel room for breakfast and snacks.” — Ashvini Mashru, MA, RD, LDN, Owner of Wellness Nutrition Concepts
“One of my tips is to not do a lazy vacation! Book and take as many excursions as possible. Make sure that the hotel as a gym or one close to it. If there's no gym, bring a jump rope, run on the beach or go swimming. Even doing push-ups in the hotel room will make a difference.” — Reggie Chambers, NASM-certified personal trainer
Drink in Moderation
“Drink alcohol in moderation. Especially on vacation, alcohol can be a large source of calories in our diet. You can cut calories out of drinks by mixing alcohol with low-calorie mixers such as seltzer water or zero-calorie drinks, or try adding seltzer water to your wine to make a spritzer! This will give you a full drink but with a little less wine (and therefore fewer calories!)” — Jen Flachbart, MS, RD
Opt for Sit-In Over Drive-Thru
“Choose sit-down restaurants instead of fast food establishments during your travels. This might take extra time, but you will have a better opportunity to ask your server how foods are prepared and add special requests for healthier meals, such as dressings on the side, grilled or broiled instead of fried and substituting vegetables and salads for fried side dishes.” — Ashvini Mashru, MA, RD, LDN, Owner of Wellness Nutrition Concepts
Bring Some Snacks
“Prepare ahead and set yourself up for success. Bring along some healthy snacks like nuts or protein bars if you think you might have trouble finding healthy options. This can also quell hunger, which keeps you from being tempted to eat foods you wouldn't normally eat at home.” — Kristie LeBeau, MPH, RN, RDN, Owner/Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Fresh Approach Nutrition, Inc.
Follow the 80/20 Rule
“Follow the 80/20 rule. Make 80% of your choices healthy, and leave 20% for some of the fun foods you want to experience. The best way to do this is to choose one meal per day to indulge a little. Use that meal to try something new or experience what that city or country is best known for.” — Jennifer Gottlieb, NASM-certified personal trainer, author of the 360 Shift and founder of JLG Fitness
Set a Reminder
“Set up reminders on your phone for why you are trying to be healthy and lose weight in the first place. Is it to feel confident? Fit into your skinny jeans? Get your cholesterol numbers down? Find something that you find motivating, and remind yourself several times a day. This works whether you're on vacation or not.” — Kristie LeBeau, MPH, RN, RDN, Owner/Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Fresh Approach Nutrition, Inc.
“Part of being on vacation is enjoying life, and part of enjoying life is ordering dessert when you really want to. If your meal has left you satisfied, you can take your dessert with you and enjoy it later when you are hungry again. You can also share your dessert with one or more dining partners, either at the table or later on. Often it's the first few bites that we most enjoy anyway. So aim for satisfying your dessert craving with a handful of bites that you take the time to savor.” — Ashvini Mashru, MA, RD, LDN, Owner of Wellness Nutrition Concepts
Drink Lots of Water
“Stay hydrated. Pack a reusable water bottle. Most people don't drink enough water when they're traveling and we can mistake thirst for hunger.” — Lauren Manganiello, MS, RD, CDN, private practice dietitian and personal trainer in NYC
Start with a Salad
“Start with salad. For those of you that tend to eat out frequently on vacation, start your meal with a salad. Filling up on veggies first can help prevent overeating on the higher calorie entrees. They are also high in fiber and vitamins that will provide you the energy you'll need to have a great vacation!” — Jen Flachbart, MS, RD
“Instead of having a restrictive mindset, like 'no fried foods,' have a permissive one, like 'eat more vegetables' or 'get more fiber' which can be more effective.” — Kristie LeBeau, MPH, RN, RDN, Owner/Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Fresh Approach Nutrition, Inc.
Sneak In Fiber
“Look for opportunities to order dishes that include high-nutrient, high-fiber fruits and vegetables. Entree salads or side salads made with spinach or romaine lettuce are a fun way to get your vegetables. If you're ordering something like a shrimp or chicken quesadilla, you can ask the restaurant to add some grilled vegetables.” — Ashvini Mashru, MA, RD, LDN, Owner of Wellness Nutrition Concepts