I think it’s safe to say we all want to look and feel great on vacation. But what happens when all of your efforts leading up to vacation go down the drain because you view vacation as a free-for-all to eat all you haven’t been eating on your healthy eating plan? We get into the mindset that we need to splurge when we’re on vacation—which is true in a sense—but often times it can go overboard, and we are left feeling crummy and not ourselves. We know that whole, nutritious food gives us energy and vitality, so it is important to keep it up while travelling especially. Not all hope is lost though, there are some great ways to stay on track with your health efforts while still enjoying yourself! Read on…
Stay healthy leading up to your vacation so you’ll be in a good routine by the time you are thrown into a new environment and routine. Eat balanced breakfasts, lunches, snacks and dinners, filling up on fruits, veggies,and lean proteins. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Get into a good exercise routine, striving for at least 150 minutes a week. Work out ideas for exercise while traveling. Often we walk a lot while traveling, so prepare!
Plan ahead— go online and look into healthy restaurants and markets in the area that you are going before you leave so you know you have a place to go. You can simply Google “healthy restaurants in Barcelona” for example. More often than not, the place you are going will have a local farmers market—what a great way to enjoy the local cuisine and meet new people! Try new veggies and fruits local to the area and ask the farmer how to prepare them.
If road tripping, plan healthy stops along the way, or pack your own healthy snacks, such as nuts, fresh fruit, cut-up vegetables, nut butter, cheese, hard-boiled eggs, smoked salmon, salami and dried fruit. If possible, take time to stop and enjoy your food, eating en route can feel stressful to your body and you may not digest your food as well. At rest stops, make time to stretch and walk a bit, especially if on a long drive.
If taking an airplane, plan ahead to bring healthy snacks. Alaska Airlines has a great Tapas snack box that is gluten free and dairy free, or find the best option that the in flight meal includes, such as salad, veggies and hummus, or fruit bowls. You can even plan ahead and bring your own meal or wrap. Eating a nutritious meal before you fly is a good idea. Many people experience constipation while traveling because of stress. Don’t compound that with dehydration. Avoid diuretics like coffee and alcohol. Drink 6 oz of water on average for every hour of flight to have happy bowels in your destination. A trick for getting water into the airport—bring your own empty reusable water bottle, and once through security, fill it up in the airport and airplane. Or because that water can sometimes be over-chlorinated, we sometimes splurge and get Fiji water – the best quality water we have found so far in airports. Just as with a road trip, it’s always a good idea to get up and take stretch break during your flight.
Once at your destination, if staying at a hotel, steer clear of the mini-bar and vending machines of course. These usually don’t have the best choices for healthy foods. With advanced notice, you can request a mini fridge to be put in your room or ask that they empty the mini fridge so you have somewhere to store perishables. You may ask the hotel service if they have fresh fruits and veggies available, or you can shop at the closest healthy food store to have healthy food on hand. At the buffet, there will be a wide variety of foods—choose what you would normally consider healthy at home, and keep portion sizes in check.
If eating out, choose foods that are grilled over fried, shy away from sugary beverages, and choose fresh fruits and veggies on the side when possible. Look for words like steamed, broiled, poached, roasted, etc. Portions are much larger at restaurants, so you may wish to share, order half size portion, or take home leftovers. It’s also important not to keep yourself in a tight “clean eating only” box—after all, it is vacation, so go ahead, feel free to indulge a bit, maybe just share your dessert with your significant other. If you are especially concerned about eating healthy while eating out, the chef will be able to make something for you, custom ordered, such as grilled chicken and veggies, for example.
When going out to see sights, instead of taking a car, walk to your destination. You get to appreciate the sights along the way and you are getting some good exercise while you’re at it. Along the lines of exercise, if you choose so, going for walks in the morning or night, swimming in the ocean or pool, chasing kids across the beach, or taking advantage of the hotel’s gym are good choices to keep your activity levels steady. Also, if you are the adventurous type, vacation is a great time to try out rock climbing, surfing, hiking, etc. Get out and explore the area and its beauty!
This is the best advice we can give. You can’t expect yourself to be perfect on vacation or deprive yourself of delicious foods, but these are some steps to keep you feeling your best, while still enjoying yourself. It may take a bit of planning, but it is well worth it in the long run. When your vacation comes to a close, just get right back to your regular healthy eating routine! There you have it, you now have some tricks up your sleeve, so get out there and enjoy your vacation!
Yours in Health and Adventure,
Bastyr University student intern