Eat Healthy on Vacation

Eat Healthy on Vacation

Being on vacation makes it notoriously hard to stick to a healthy eating plan, much less an actual weight-loss plan. The dizzying array of new and delicious foods, disruption in your normal schedule, and unavailabilty of foods you might be used to makes it difficult to eat healthy and stick to your routine. But there are ways to make it work!

Depending on what type of vacation you take, you'll have different sets of challenges to deal with in order to eat healthy. If you go to visit family, you may need to contend with someone else's cooking and dietary habits. If you have specific needs, try to let your host know ahead of time, and if your needs are significantly different from the rest of the group, offer to help with the cooking. Chances are your host will be happy to oblige!

If you're on a vacation staying in a hotel, you might be even further limited in your options, but you can still eat healthy. When you check in (or even better, when you make your reservation), ask if the hotel provides mini-fridges and/or microwaves in the room. If so, plan to stock yours with healthy snacks you're used to - yogurt, fruit, milk, juice, etc - and then you won't be tempted to snack on less than healthy things. You may also find that it works best to make your own breakfasts and lunches - this will both help you stick to your healthy eating plan as well as save some money.

Check with the hotel concierge for a nearby grocery store to stock up when you arrive. Alternately, you can bring non-perishable snacks along with you. Protein bars, nuts, crackers, and the like are great for keeping you on an even keel on shorter trips when a grocery store run just isn't feasible. Even without a fridge, having fresh fruit around is a good idea for fighting hunger pangs.

But what to do if there's no fridge or other way to eat in your room? It's not such a terrible thing to be forced to eat in restaurants, but you will want to be careful in what menu items you choose. Some tips to eat healthy in restaurants:

Take the opportunity of being in a new place to try to local fare - find a non-chain restaurant and check out their specialty.

Choose fresh menu options as much as you can and avoid fried foods most of the time.
Restaurant portions are usually way too big for one person's regular diet. Consider sharing with someone, ordering a half-portion if you can, or saving some for the next day if you've got facilities in your room.

Ask for salad dressings and heavy sauces to be served on the side.

Order an appetizer as an entree - portion sizes are usually a little more reasonable.

If you're faced with a buffet, it's even more up to you to make the right choices to eat healthy. Remember that "all you can eat" is almost always more than you should eat, so limit yourself to how many plates to take.

Again, try to avoid lots of fried things or foods in heavy sauces. Look for fresh fruits and vegetables as much as you can. Map out your plate with appropriate portions of different foods - about half of your plate should be filled with vegetables, a quarter with starches (potatoes, pasta, rice, etc), and a quarter with meat or other protein. Remember that you don't really have to try EVERYTHING on the buffet - scope it out before you put anything on your plate and then go back and get only the things that looked the best to you.

Wherever you eat, keep that good old USDA Food Pyramid in mind. It's okay to splurge a little when you're on vacation, but don't let yourself get carried away! If you really go nuts, it will be hard to eat healthy again when you get back home.

An auxiliary way to help yourself stay healthy on a vacation is to keep up with your exercise routine - take advantage of that fitness room at the hotel, get out and enjoy your new surroundings, or try a new activity!