Written By: Geri Wohl, CNC
The countdown has started to your vacation. Time to relax, recharge your batteries and be away from your daily stressors. But these fun-filled days lounging around can wreak havoc on your waistline. In fact, about 30% of Americans report that they either always or most often gain weight while traveling. When you “let go”, poor food choices and lack of exercise are often the result.
Whether you are vacationing close to home or traveling far away, being prepared about food choices and exercise will be key to avoid putting on those unwanted extra pounds. Moderation will allow you to enjoy but avoid over-indulging.
Traveling by airplane: While the airlines may profess that they provide healthy meal options, typically you are better off to bring some food from home and have your own choices. You can bring a sandwich, cut-up veggies, fruit and nuts. Your seatmates will be envious, and you will have saved yourself some cash on the high-priced airline choices. When drinks are served, opt for water over the more calorie-laden sodas, juices or cocktails. You will avoid the unnecessary calories and hydrate your body from the dry air found in planes.
Traveling by car: Avoid the drive-thru. It may save you time but at what expense? Try to find a restaurant that has some good food options on your route. Avoid the fried and greasy choices. It will be better to go for grilled or baked foods instead. Get out of the car, stretch and relax for a few minutes. As with flying, pack some easy snacks like trail mix or nuts to avoid going long stretches without any food and being famished.
On vacation: Avoid the urge to splurge. Try to keep your indulgences to one time per day. You can’t expect to treat yourself all day long without paying the price. Typically, we let loose and consume far too many sugary foods. Cut out the sugar and enjoy a meal with good quality protein and vegetables. Excess sugar is not your friend and just creates the cravings for more sugar resulting in excess calories. For more about sugar, see my article, “Eating Well to Lose Weight: Skip the Sugars“.
Hotel stays: If you are staying at a hotel, try to see if they have a refrigerator. If so, you can store healthy snacks to take with you while seeing the sites. Definitely hide the mini-bar key. Avoid the junk in the hotel fridge and save on your hotel bill and your waistline. Eat a nutritious breakfast that encompasses some form of protein to begin your day. Breakfast signals the body that the day is starting and revs up your metabolism. For more about the benefits of breakfast, see my article, ” The Benefits of Breakfast“.
House/Cabin/Apartment rentals: If you are staying at a place that has a kitchen, making healthier options will be easier. You can cook some meals with ingredients to meet your nutritional needs. Attempt to eat the same amount and kinds of foods as you normally do. If you want some local flavor in a foreign country, walk to the neighborhood food markets to experience how the locals eat and experience more fully their culture. You’ll also save money in the process.
Restaurant dining: When eating out at a restaurant, we may be tempted by the foods that are higher in fat and calories. Listen to your body signals. Only eat when you are hungry. It’s tempting to want to try everything, but a few bites of a regional food should be enough to appreciate the culture and not pack on the calories. Avoid all-you-can-eat buffets. They encourage gluttony. If you do go to a buffet, choose your food wisely being mindful of quantities. Avoid going for seconds and try to use a smaller plate to trick your brain about how much food you really need.
Beware of drinks, especially those with little umbrellas. They are full of unnecessary calories and sugars. That pina colada that you’re sipping in your bathing suit can have up to 600 calories! If you are imbibing alcohol, try to have 1-2 glasses of water before and after an alcoholic beverage. Water will help fill you up and keep you hydrated.
Exercise: Get your body moving. Whether you have chosen to have an active vacation or a time of rest and relaxation, some exercise can boost your endorphins and thereby enhance your pleasure. If you are sightseeing, consider getting out and walking or biking. You want to avoid sitting most of the day on a bus or lying on a lounge chair (unless you are physically unable). If you take the stairs instead of the elevator, you will also burn more calories. If you are staying at a hotel, inquire if they have a gym or pool. You can squeeze in 45 minutes to get a workout and still enjoy the type of vacation you desire. For more about the little ways to incorporate exercise into your day, see my article, ” Taking Easy Steps for Better Fitness“. Remember to stay hydrated and drink water throughout the day, whether you are seeing the sites on foot or relaxing by the beach. You will probably need to drink more than you normally do.
Enjoy your vacation and feel rejuvenated! Your body will be thankful.
© Geri Wohl, CNC