Vacation – some people prepare for it months ahead of time by working out harder and eating cleanly so they’ll be ready to slip into a swimsuit that plays up their enviably toned body. But vacations are also a time when people let down their guard with regard to diet and exercise. They eat in restaurants, spend more time relaxing and less time exercising and return home a few pounds heavier. Shedding those extra pounds once vacation is over can be a challenge. Take steps to minimize the damage. Here are five tips for avoiding vacation weight gain.
Stay in a Place Where You Have Access to a Kitchen
One reason vacationers end up tipping the scales higher when they get home is they completely change their eating habits. They eat more fast food and restaurant “comfort food” that’s anything but comforting to the waistline. To avoid vacation weight gain, choose vacation quarters where you have access to a kitchen – or at least a refrigerator.
When you arrive at your vacation destination, visit a local grocery store and stock up on low calorie snacks and breakfast foods. Good hunger-quenchers to have on hand are containers of low-sugar yogurt, hummus and sliced veggies, single-serving containers of cottage cheese, fresh fruit, low-sodium vegetable juice and bottles of unsweetened green tea. You can always use these as a quick guilt-free breakfast or snack.
Pack Carry-Along Snacks
Carry a supply of healthy snacks that don’t need to be refrigerated. You can munch on them on the way to your destination or while you’re on the beach. Good choices are portion-controlled packs of nuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, protein bars and fruit. Carrying snacks along will you may save you a trip to the vending machine or ice cream stand when hunger strikes. Avoid sugar-sweetened drinks. Sip on unsweetened iced tea instead.
Research Restaurants at Your Destination Beforehand
Restaurant food is deceptively high in calories, thanks to the emphasis on butter, oil and sauces and the large portion sizes. Some restaurants emphasize health more than others. Research beforehand by viewing restaurant menus online before you go. Look for eating destinations that have a salad bar or a large selection of salads, offer vegetable side dishes as an alternative to potatoes and are trans-fat free. If necessary, call the restaurant, and ask the manager if they use trans-fat free oil and trans-fat free margarine or butter. Avoid all-you-can eat buffets. It’s hard to control how much you eat when you have an unlimited amount of time to munch.
Vacation is a time to relax, but don’t become a couch potato. Most hotels have a gym. If your hotel doesn’t have a gym, purchase a guest pass to a gym in the area. Hit the exercise facilities for 30 minutes in the morning even if you don’t work as hard as you do at home. If you don’t have access to a gym, take a brisk walk or run first thing in the morning. Running on the beach is an entirely new experience, and it burns more calories than running on flat ground. Schedule fun activities that’ll keep you moving like hiking, long walks and swimming – and walk to as many destinations as you can. If you completely stop exercising, it’ll be harder to get back to your routine once you get home.
Start the day with a healthy breakfast. This will cut back on your desire to snack later in the day. Many hotels offer a continental breakfast and are including healthy options that go beyond the usual muffins and bagels. Healthier items to look for are eggs, oatmeal, fruit, yogurt and green tea. A few eggs and a bowl of oatmeal will give you the protein and fiber you need to avoid feeling hungry later.
The Bottom Line?
Vacations are a time to relax but staying active will make it easier to return to your exercise routine when you get home. Don’t throw caution to the wind when it comes to choosing what you eat. With a little planning, you can avoid the pitfalls that lead to vacation weight gain.