7 Dietitian-approved strategies to avoid vacation weight gain

  • 3 Minutes Read
Brenda Braslow
Brenda Braslow, MS, RDN, LDN, CDCES - Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES)

Vacation weight gain gets the "worst souvenir" award, and you don't want to bring it home from your trip. Learn how to avoid it while still enjoying every moment of your travels.

Vacation weight gain

How can I prevent vacation weight gain?

Vacation weight gain is not inevitable. Follow simple strategies to keep the calories in check and add physical activity while having fun. You may be pleasantly surprised that you don't gain weight during your vacation.

7 strategies to keep vacation calories in check

1. Set a goal to maintain, not gain

Put your weight-loss goal on pause during vacation. When the goal is to maintain your weight (rather than lose) during a trip, it removes pressure and tension about eating in new food environments or cultures. Plus, keeping your current weight during vacation instead of gaining sets you up to resume your progress when you return-no drastic measures needed.

You may take a break from tracking during vacation or track only exercise, not food. You could simply practice portion control and other skills you've acquired to hold the calories in check. Logging exercise could keep you more mindful of food intake and portion sizes by keeping the "night light on" in terms of calorie awareness.

2. Don't drink your calories

Smart beverage choices make a huge calorie difference. Passing over a caloric drink leaves room for more of the local dining you really want to savor. Instead, choose low-calorie beverages or simply use a smaller glass.

Examples of calorie savings:

Pack a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated when traveling. It saves you money and keeps you going strong, so you can make the most of your vacation.

3. Plan ahead

Eat something nutritious before heading to the airport. Bring healthy snacks for the plane and car. Those "snack" bags of trail mix in the airport or convenience stores often contain three servings per bag. The 150 calories on the nutrition label don't sound so bad until you realize the bag contains multiple servings.

Pack a healthy snack or meal to eat for the plane. Although you can't go through airport security with liquids and gels (e.g., yogurt), solids are allowed. Consider prepping these healthy eating noshes for traveling: sandwiches, salad, raw veggies, cheese, fruit, nuts, seeds, or protein bars.

Check whether your hotel room includes a small refrigerator and microwave and what options (if any) exist for breakfast. Research local grocery stores and markets to grab some healthy food when you arrive.

4. Practice portion control

Excessive restaurant portions, all-you-can-eat buffets, and enticing local cuisine make it tricky to limit vacation calories. If you have access to a refrigerator, plan for leftovers. When possible, serve yourself using a smaller plate, glass, or bowl.

Portion control means you don't have to deny yourself local treats. Studies have shown that we get the most enjoyment from the first few bites of anything we eat. After that, our enjoyment goes downhill fast. So, by taking only a few bites instead of finishing that yummy cheesecake or cookie, you get to enjoy the treat, and also save on calories. Splitting a treat is a fun way to sample something new while limiting calories.

5. Seek out veggies

Fill half your plate with veggies. If the menu is strictly a la carte, add veggies to your order or at another meal that day.

Choose a restaurant that offers more veggies than just pickles, lettuce, and tomato on a fried sandwich. Seek out local farmers' markets for fresh and seasonal local produce.

Fill your dinner plate with fresh salad and use the smaller salad bowl or plate for the entree. This easy dish switch can save hundreds of calories, leaving room for a small treat later.

6. Focus on non-food activities

Vacation is more than just about the food-it's about relaxing, exploring, and spending time with loved ones. Throw Frisbee with the kids, catch lightning bugs, challenge everyone to a hula hoop contest, or go on a walking tour when sightseeing. You may have so much fun it doesn't feel like exercise.

7. Plan an active vacation

Many activities are available to enjoy, whether you enjoy hiking, walking, bicycling, kayaking, or swimming. Find guided active vacation options. You can search the name of the area you are visiting and the type of exercise you enjoy. For example, search "London walking tour" or "Michigan bicycle vacation." Rather than a bus tour, look for a walking tour of the city-research local options before you go. Find the best hiking or bike trails, walking tours, or hotels with the best pools or fitness centers.

Check your steps each day to validate all the walking you are doing on vacation. It can keep you in a healthy mode. And don't forget to pack your active wear, including supportive shoes!

Enjoy your special getaway, and if you follow these simple strategies, you may discover the scale dips in your favor with no vacation weight gain.

Related Topics

Dietitian top-picks for healthy snacks that travel well
Planning outdoor activities with family and friends that burn calories
10 Dietitian-approved healthy camping meals to get you through summer

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Travel->Maintain Don't Gain
Jul 4, 2022
Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.

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