As summer draws to a close, a popular trend is to escape to a beach destination and enjoy a final Summer fling at your favorite spot. Many lucky people are going away with their families and squeezing out one last dreamy week of swimming, building sand castles and enjoying the warm summer air (not to mention no homework). For many of my clients this is also a stressful time because these vacation spots may not always support their healthy eating habits. Tempting foods that normally aren’t present (think: french fries, fried foods, chips, cocktails and giant ice cream cones that seem to be everywhere) can derail even the healthiest eater from their good intentions.
I know many people can argue that while on vacation it is totally acceptable to indulge and leave your healthy eating ways at home. I support this if the person is going to be comfortable coming home with a perhaps a few extra pounds and having to deal with the damage done. Many people lose the unwanted weight quickly. No big deal. For for the rest of us, I really caution you to consider if the daily indulgences are worth it to your physical and mental status.
Start your day with a healthy breakfast: Try to mimic your regular eating habits as much as possible. If you are staying at a place with your own refrigerator it should be easy to replicate your breakfast that you would normally have. Stock your kitchen with high fiber cereals, Greek yogurts, eggs and fresh fruit, whole wheat toast and peanut butter. Eating in will save you money and help set you up for a successful day. If your family likes to go out for breakfast choose from the egg white veggie omelet, fresh fruit, oatmeal, whole wheat toast, plain yogurt or cottage cheese. If you skip the pancakes, muffins, bacon and juices you will be better off. Starting the day with refined sugar and little fiber nor protein will set you up to crash and burn.
Pack snacks and stock your vacation home with healthy options: Find out before if you will have access to fresh fruits and veggie. Is there a local supermarket? If not, you can easily pack a cooler beforehand. While you kids or friends have their hand in a chip bag on the beach make sure you have a satisfying snack for yourself. Great travel snacks are high fiber bars, individual bags of pistachios, fruit, string cheese, sliced turkey, cut up veggies, individual bags of popcorn, Matt’s Munchies Fruit snacks and Justin's individually portioned nut-butters to dip with your apple or celery. These items travel well and can be packed into a cooler easily.
Set limits for alcoholic beverages. Cocktails, beer and wine can certainly be enjoyed but don’t go overboard. If you are used to drinking 2 drinks a week and on vacation you permit yourself a drink or two each night your calorie intake will skyrocket. In addition to the extra unwanted increase in calories, you will also get the decrease in inhibitions. This often leads to a “what the heck, I’m on vacation” mentality and pretty soon your eating choices will suffer tremendously. Bottom line: if you plan on having a “free for all” with the booze, expect your calorie intake from the alcohol and the foods to cause weight gain and bloat that probably with be very unwelcome when you are back home. My advice is decide before dinner (or lunch) if you are going to imbibe or not. It will help you stay in control of your eating if you stick with sparkling water. The warm air and relaxing surrounding should be the only buzz you require.
Guzzle water throughout the day. I advise clients to invest in a great water bottle and every morning pack it with ice and a slice of fruit like lemon, lime or orange if they wish. The water will hydrate you and help fill you up at and between meals. Additionally, many people confuse the sensation of thirst with hunger so be sure you are adequately hydrating to make sure that doesn’t happen to you. I ask clients to associate their water bottle as a symbol of their effort to help nurture their body. It is a great visual reminder to take care of yourself and make good choices all day long.
Plan your sweet indulgences. Many of my clients and friends tell me their biggest challenge on vacation is the daily visit to the ice cream shop. Its very hard to eat clean when every family member is picking out their favorite ice cream flavor and you see yours there too. I like the have my clients think things through before they decide to indulge. If you eat ice cream most night on vacation it is very likely you will come home feeling a few pounds heavier. Again, if this isn’t going to bother you then go ahead and enjoy. If you know this will create emotional distress when you get back to reality I advise you avoid the daily high calorie treat. Instead, choose to indulge one or two times (per week) and savor and enjoy the treat. Have a scoop of your favorite rich ice cream and wake up knowing you had your treat but don’t have to deal with the bloat that would likely happen if you had it every night. Some clients will bring their own dark chocolate or Matt's Munchies or another calorie controlled snack or stock their room with a low calorie frozen dessert if possible. I will sometimes enjoy a decaf skim latte as a substitute when others are having a high calorie dessert that I choose to pass on.
Stick with your exercise routine: If you are someone that works out 4 days a week try to keep with that schedule on vacation. It will help you stick to your routine, benefit your mental health and keep you psychologically committed to a healthy lifestyle. If a few extra fries or ice cream manages to make its way into your mouth the exercise will help you burn those unwanted calories.