Working my way through the brunch buffet line, I found myself taking a heaping spoonful of every dish in front of me. I topped off my already maxed-out plate with a doughnut hole dusted with cinnamon and sugar. (OK, two doughnut holes. Hey, they were small!!)
After polishing off my last bite of food, I looked around the room and began to wonder when the servers were going to pass the tray of pastries I had spotted. Was I still hungry? No, but I was out-of-town — on vacation — and I was determined to enjoy myself. That included not missing a single calorie.
I had conveniently forgotten that a vacation isn’t a vacation from healthy eating.
It’s very easy to leave your healthy eating habits behind when you go on vacation. Unfortunately, this can lead to bringing home the kind of souvenirs that no one wants — a couple of extra inches around the midsection.
So, here are some tips on how to have your vacation — and eat on it, too!
Walk, Walk, Walk
While you’re on vacation, walk everywhere you can safely do so. This means packing right. A good rule of thumb for packing is: if you don’t wear it at home, you probably won’t wear it on the trip. Take comfortable shoes and clothes that you can layer, so you’ll be ready for different kinds of weather. Wearing tight, overly dressy clothes or brand new strappy sandals will give you an excuse to avoid walking.
Leave the Snacks Behind
Unless you have blood sugar issues, allergies/intolerances, or unless you know you’ll be somewhere for a long period of time without any food available, why do you need snacks? Even if you eat a snack, you could end up eating again … and again, particularly when there’s a time change issue. Overeating — even healthful foods like fresh fruit — is still overeating. Boredom while travelling can lead to nibbling, so come prepared with plenty of books, magazines, or computer games to pass the time.
Save Your Calorie Splurges for Foods You Can’t Get Back Home
By all means sample the local delicacies — that’s part of the fun of a trip, but avoid loading up on fattening foods that aren’t anything special — “Oh, look, the hotel has chocolate chip cookies! ” For example, if you’re at the beach and really into fried shrimp, order them and savor every one, but skip the fries. Good fries are on every street corner — including back in your hometown. Instead of ordering the potatoes, ask your server if you can substitute a green vegetable or a salad (with the dressing on the side, of course.)
Stay Away From “Foo-Foo” Adult Beverages
They’re fun and festive, but if your drink has a paper umbrella or a pink plastic flamingo in it, it probably has too many calories. Many fancy cocktails are loaded with sugar or loaded with fat. A Planter’s Punch or a Pina Colada can easily have 700 calories. A simple glass of wine, a light beer, or alcohol mixed with diet soda is a much better choice.
Ellen Stokes, MS, RD, LD is an award-winning video producer, director, and writer in addition to being a registered dietitian. Ellen writes and creates videos about nutrition education, food safety, menu planning, grocery shopping, and healthful cooking on a budget. Ellen has worked with organizations and companies including WebMD, the Partnership for Food Safety Education, and the University of Georgia Food Science Department. Ellen formerly worked for CNN as a writer and producer and teaches food safety and nutrition for Georgia State University. Check her out on Twitter @EllenS_RD.