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Sticking to Your Diet as You Travel: Top 10 Vacation Tips for Eating Healthy

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Vacation Tips: 10 Ways to Stay on Your Diet

eating healthyDieting on vacation. What a drag. Isn't the point of a vacation to relax, to live it up, and to leave your normal routine behind? Of course, and you can do all of these things without letting your healthy habits take a vacation, too. After all, you probably worked hard to get in fighting bikini shape, and why come home and find that not only did you regain weight you worked hard to lose, you actually piled on five more pounds?

The good news is that there are a number of simple, healthy strategies that can help you stay true to your diet while on vacation.

  1. In transit, avoid unhealthy meals. Plane and airport food deserve their reputation. Instead, bring your own snacks and meals. Pack food cut into bite-size pieces into a collapsible container—think veggies, fruit, sliced cheese, vegetarian sushi rolls, and quartered sandwiches.
  2. Resist the lure of junk food. When you're on the road you may have no other option but to eat out, and depending on the area, you might not find healthy choices. If you must stop for fast food, use the nutrition facts to help select some of the healthier options, such as wraps, veggie subs, salads, and yogurt cups.
  3. Split your banana split. Rather than deny yourself, split desserts with a partner or two. Mireille Guiliano, author of French Women Don't Get Fat, maintains that delighting in a great meal happens at the first bite. "I may want the fifth bite of dessert," she says, "but I get the most pleasure from the first few bites, and I like to stop there."
  4. Rethink in-room dining. With a few reserves, you can make easy meals in your room. Pack whole-grain bread, natural peanut butter, and whole fruit for a quick and healthy lunch. Bonus points: Book a condo with a kitchen and scout the nearby farmers' markets for delicious, in-season food.
  5. Ease up on the umbrella drinks. Mixed drinks can add as many calories as a full meal, ranging from about 280 calories for a gin and tonic to more than 800 calories for frozen drinks like margaritas and pina coladas. Instead, alternate a beer or glass of wine (80-100 calories) with a glass of water.
  6. Scout out restaurants. While booking your travel and hotel rooms, research near-by eateries. Many restaurants post their menu online. Print them out and circle healthy options.
  7. Incorporate "active" activities. Find ways to get active on vacation. Walk on the beach, play volleyball, go for a hike, ride a bike, swim, or see the sights on foot. Many people find that they actually lose weight when vacationing in European cities, where walking is a major mode of transportation.
  8. Bring your own gym. If your hotel doesn't have a fitness center and you want to stick to your 6 a.m. routine, pack a gym. A pedometer, jump rope, and resistance bands pack light and can give you a full-body workout. Or just pack your iPod. Download a podcast of a bodyweight workout—no equipment required.
  9. Eat at regular intervals. If you wait until after a full day of sightseeing to eat, you're more like to make bad choices. Schedule in the time for three proper meals plus a snack.
  10. Stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of fluids can make a big difference, alleviating symptoms of jet lag and combating the effects of any high-sodium foods you might eat.

It is possible to stay fit and healthy while traveling, and have fun, too! Eat in moderation and get some exercise, and you'll come back relaxed, refreshed, and still on track with your dieting goals.

About our Savvy Advisor: April Dykman

April Dykman writes about food, travel, personal finance, and natural health. A regular contributor to Adavvy.com, her popular new "Build a Better Lunch" series offers inspiration and practical tips for preparing lunches that pack a nutritional punch.