How many times have you come home from a holiday and said “I must have gained 10 lbs in the past week! I really need to go on a diet!”? I know I have more than once and I’m sure most of you can say the same. Thankfully after much trial and error I have found 8 sure-fire tricks to avoid weight gain on vacation.
Eating healthy on holidays can really be a challenge. First of all there’s the inner battle of reason that goes on in our head. On the one hand we know that what we eat has a huge impact on our lives and eating healthy shouldn’t be discarded when we’re on vacation. But on the other (more fun hand) we know that eating a big plate of our favorite pasta or drinking a strawberry Margarita (or five) can bring us immense pleasure. After all, isn’t that what vacations are for?
Well yes of course a vacation is meant to be fun but does that mean you have to sacrifice your health and gain unwanted weight in order to have a good time? Can’t we have both?
The answer is yes! You most definitely can avoid weight gain when on vacation and it doesn’t have to ruin the good times. As with most things it simply comes down to finding a balance. I say ‘simply’ but in reality it’s not always that easy, especially when your fun hand is holding a slice of pizza. Unless you’re one of those extremely disciplined people, who I both admire and resent, staying on track while on vacation takes some effort but with a bit of preparation and thought it can be quite painless to avoid weight gain on vacation.
1. Make A Vacation Plan to Avoid Weight Gain
If you know that you’re going to be tempted to overindulge then have a strategy to help keep that temptation under control. This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a sloppy burger and icy cold beer, it just means that you have a plan of how and when you will enjoy it and how you will balance that indulgence. Use some of the tips below to formulate a plan that works for you.
2. Eat With Awareness
Be conscious of what you are eating and when you’re eating it. It’s really easy when you’re on holiday to drop any thought of set mealtimes and just eat anytime, anywhere. If you’re really hungry you’ll just grab whatever is handy (usually greasy fast food.) Or if there’s a delicious smell coming from a street vendor you’ll tend to eat even if you’re not hungry. If you simply pay attention to what you’re putting in your mouth you might just opt for the grilled chicken instead of the french fries. If you want to take it a step further, download a calorie counter app like My Fitness Pal on your phone. You’ll be surprised how just being aware of the calories in a certain food can make you rethink how you eat.
3. Have a Kitchen
Many hotels offer rooms with kitchenettes and most hostels have a shared kitchen for guest use. At the very least ask for a mini fridge in your room. With a kitchen or fridge you can stock up on healthy snacks and even meals so you’ll be more likely to eat well. When you go out for the day pack some fruit or veggies, crackers and cheese or even make some sandwiches so that you’ll have an option other than fast food. Obviously if you’re in a hot climate you’ll either need a little lunch cooler or will have to pack items that don’t need to be kept cool. This tip also saves money!
4. Research Healthy Restaurant & Grocery Stores
As part of your pan to avoid weight gain on vacation research the area you’ll be staying in and look for grocery stores and healthier restaurant options. If you want something familiar there are Subway sandwich restaurants all over the world that offer some pretty healthy meals. Also look into what the local food is like so that you know what to look for when you get there. Often the local food can be quite healthy but as a tourist you may avoid it or choose the westernized version simply because you have no idea what you’re eating. This is also a great way to fully experience a destination rather than just seeking out what you know from back home.
5. Pick Your Battles
We all need to indulge sometimes, especially when on vacation, but it doesn’t have to be at every meal. Every day try to make 2 out of 3 meals healthy choices. For example if you must have that English breakfast fry up then plan to have a salad for lunch and grilled chicken for dinner. Or if you plan to visit that famous pizza place at lunchtime then have fruit and yogurt for breakfast and a big salad for dinner. This will not only help you curb those calories but it also makes that loaded pizza taste even better because you see it as a special treat as opposed to just another pizza lost in a sea of pizzas.
6. Balance Your Meals
Similar to picking your battles you can also balance at each meal. Say you really want a burger for lunch but you’ve already had bacon and eggs for breakfast. Well if you really must have that burger then order it without cheese, have a side salad instead of fries and get a light beer or better yet water instead of pop or a calorie loaded Guinness. That way you still satisfy your craving without completely going overboard. Can’t stop thinking about that double scoop of Gelato you plan to have while walking along the boardwalk that evening? No problem, have grilled chicken and veggies for dinner and enjoy every lick of that double chocolate creaminess with fudge and brownie chunks.
7. Limiting Libations
Unless you’re a non-drinker this can be a big culprit of overindulgence when on vacation. It’s really easy to get caught up in the festivities and you may even succumb to day drinking which is probably not something you do at home. Not only is too much alcohol unhealthy but it also contains mega calories which we often seem to forget. I’m the last one to preach against having cocktails or a couple (or 5) glasses of wine or beer but it is good to curb your intake to avoid weight gain…and hangovers! After all drinking too much has a multiple negative effect of weight gain, organ damage and also a potentially missed day of your holiday due to a hangover. Here’s some tips:
- Avoid day drinking as you’ll end up drinking much more in a 24 hour period
- Stick to low cal options like light beer, dry white wine or vodka & soda
- Limit the fancy cocktails as they contain a ton of hidden sugar or possibly cream
- Drink a full glass of water in between each alcoholic drink (less calories and less hangover)
8. Plan That Midnight Snack
Speaking of drinking, if you’re like me you know you’ll be wanting to chow down after an evening of bevvies. Make sure to have healthy snacks waiting back at your hotel room for those late night after party munchies. You may not be interested in apples and celery sticks but a bag of pretzels or some cheese and crackers are a much better option than sleeping on a 400 calorie slice of pizza (that’s assuming you stop at one slice).
Of course exercise is also a good way to avoid weight gain on vacation and there are plenty of ways to stay fit while traveling. But if you work in even just a few of these tips into your next vacation I swear you will go home feeling much better for it. I promise that you won’t feel deprived or cheated of a good time. If anything you’ll likely have a better time as you’ll be more energized to enjoy all of the other activities!
In my opinion you really can have your cake and eat it too. It really is possible to avid weight gain on vacation and beieve it or not there are some who actually lose weight on vacation.
Born in England, Sarah developed her wanderlust at a young age as she traveled around Europe with her parents. As a young adult she spent every penny she could on experiences as opposed to possessions. Eventually she found a way to earn a living doing what she loved: traveling, writing and capturing images of the wondrous world we live in. When not on the go Sarah enjoys time in her “sometimes home” of Vancouver.