Tips for Eating Healthy on Vacation

Managing a diet is probably the absolute last thing you’re thinking about on vacation. Or, maybe it’s all you’re thinking about as you ramp up for your next vacation. But you don’t have to panic!Take it from someone who has lost nearly 40 pounds in the last year while still going on (and thoroughly enjoying) eight vacations… it can be done. If you take advantage of these tips, it’s actually not even that hard.

1. Stay Hydrated.

Yup, that’s it. That’s the whole tip. You wouldn’t believe how much of what you think is hunger is really just your body telling you that it’s dry. When you decide you can’t wait one more minute for something to eat (even though you just ate an hour or two ago), drink a whole bottle of water and reevaluate.

2. Keep Yourself Accountable.

Arguably one of the easiest ways to eat healthy while you’re traveling is to keep yourself accountable. Personally, I rely pretty heavily on my FitBit to help me count calories everyday which I continue to do even when I’m on vacation. It may seem like a bit of a bummer because you’re supposed to let loose on vacation. But you can’t get so loose that you lose sight of your health goals, which can make it hard to get back on track when you get home.

You don’t need a FitBit, or any type of smart watch, to do this. MyFitnessPal is a great app for counting calories and can be downloaded on just about any type of smart device and even on a traditional web browser.

3. Chains are (Surprisingly) Your Friend.

I know this sounds ridiculous and can take some of the fun out of exploring new places but chain restaurants make staying on top of your healthy eating habits so much easier. This is because most chain restaurants give you a calorie count for each menu item.

You absolutely should not eat at chain restaurants the entire time you’re on vacation because that sucks some of the fun out of visiting new places and trying new things. But supplementing some of your meals with chain meals can be really helpful in terms of keeping yourself accountable.

Many times when I’ve been on vacation, I’ve stopped by a Starbucks for breakfast, a Subway or even a McDonald’s for lunch, and Olive Garden or Outback Steakhouse for dinner. Not all three in one day obviously but even just one can help. Not to mention, they’re convenient AF a lot of the time if you’re in a hurry.

One last point I want to make here is that you can still be adventurous even with chain restaurants. If you’ve never been to a certain part of the U.S., you should get excited for the new chains they’ll have there. For example, California has Del Taco and Whataburger… places a Pennsylvanian such as myself can’t go.

4. Veggies are Also Your Friend.

I like carbs (i.e. cheese, bread, cheese, pasta, cheese, ice cream…. cheese) as much as the next gal but they need to be eaten in moderation. On the bright side, carbs like these can make it really easy to separate the healthy options from the not-so-healthy options on the menus you’ll find while you’re traveling. You can assume anything with cream, starches, or grains in them are going to be loaded with calories.

I know how tempting it can be to go overboard with carbs because of the ~treat yourself~ attitude  that comes with being on vacation. But the best way to treat yourself is to treat yourself right — thank you for coming to my TED talk.

Really, though, treat yourself once a day to a delicious (carb-packed) meal so you can indulge in the flavors of the area you’re visiting, like deep-dish pizza in Chicago or beignets in New Orleans. But then stick to meals that are rich with green veggies and lean meats like seafood and chicken for the rest of the day.

6. Do Some Swapsies When You Can.

Lots of places will let you make healthy substitutions in their meal. In fact, many places even encourage customization right on their menu. When you have the option, swap out carbs or fats for veggies or healthy starches. You’re still getting to indulge in something out but not taking such a big hit in the calorie department.One way that I like to do this is swapping out buns for lettuce. Yeah, okay, lettuce is literally never going to be as satisfying to eat as 50 grams of bread. But it’s still good and you still get a burger.

7. Put Your Feet.. Where Your.. Mouth Is?

If you’re going to blather on about staying healthy on vacation, then make it happen. But food isn’t the only factor when it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle while you’re on-the-go. You also need to stay active.

While this isn’t a tip for eating healthy on the road, the eating part is only half of the equation. While you’re traveling and trying all kinds of different foods, you should also keep moving. If you know you’re going to splurge a lot one day, be sure to build a lengthy walk or hike into your schedule for the day.

On the contrary, if you’re going to be in the car all day, plan on taking in a few lighter meals to make up for the fact that you won’t be moving around as much as you want to be.

The point here is that you need to adapt to your traveling circumstances.

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