With summer in full swing, you’re probably beginning to plan and prep all the fun events and relaxing vacations that the season brings. If you’re anything like us, the thought of vacation goes hand-in-hand with, dare I say it, CHEATING on your diet/healthy lifestyle. Vacation is often used as a time to go all out and throw healthy habits out the window because let’s be honest, we’ve earned it! And although you probably HAVE earned it and it’s acceptable to treat yourself while enjoying time away from home, it is still important to cut corners where possible and still make healthier choices so you don’t get that post-vacation, guilt-induced slump we’ve all had before. Believe it or not, there is a way to ‘cheat clean’ without overindulging and feeling like you’ve lost all control. How is it possible?? Glad you asked.
To start, make minor adjustments when ordering at restaurants, and always order water or unsweetened tea instead of soda. Here are some ways to make smarter food choices when dining out:
- Look at the menu ahead of time. Take time before you order, preferably while you’re not as hungry, to choose a healthy option that you may not have chosen if you were famished and ‘hangry’ (we’ve all been there). Look for grilled chicken, turkey or beef burgers (order without the bun), wraps or sandwiches made with whole wheat tortillas/bread, fish, steak, and salads that aren’t loaded with fatty dressings, cheese, or croutons. Swap out fries or any unhealthy side with vegetables.
- Order a salad with a vinaigrette that you get on the side so you can control how much goes in (hint: you don’t need as much as you think!). For thicker dressings, you can use the fork-dipping method: dip the tines of your fork into the dressing, then spear the leaves of your salad. This helps you get a taste of the dressing with every bite without having to use a whole lot. NOTE: be sure to pick a salad that has mostly greens and vegetables, preferably with a protein to help keep you full. Salads that are packed with unhealthy toppings and fatty dressings can accrue up to 1,500 calories, easily, so be mindful when choosing which you order!
- Stay away from the starter bread (or equivalent), or limit to just ONE piece. You can do it, we promise.
- Look for a lower-calorie section on the menu and choose an option from there.
- Skip the dessert. You can get a fruit cup instead to fulfill that sugar craving. Annoying, right? But we believe in you.
- If you’re getting a bigger, more indulgent meal, ask for a box right away and instantly take half of it home. This not only gives you a second meal later, but you’ll walk away feeling full and satisfied, without the slump or stomachache.
Secondly, if you want more flexibility with your eating, you can burn off some calories by hitting the hotel gym or doing some exercises right in your room (no weights needed!). A combination of cardio and strength training is a great way to kick-start the metabolism and keep it burning, even for hours afterward. Start by doing each of the following moves for 1 minute, followed by a 1 minute rest between exercises:
- Lunges (alternating legs)
- Jumping jacks
- Squats (or for the more advanced, squat jumps!)
- Mountain climbers
- High knees
- Triceps dips
- Scissor lifts
- 1 minute plank
(For your convenience, we have linked each exercise to a video showing you how to perform the move.)
If these moves are too extensive and you have a gym in your hotel, jump on the treadmill, elliptical, bike, rower, or stair climber for 30-45 minutes. Don’t have a gym? No problem! Go on a walk or run outside. The most important thing is that you keep moving!
Another thing to remember while on vacation is to DRINK WATER! Drinking plenty of water throughout your trip not only keeps you hydrated but can sometimes curb your oncoming appetite. Sometimes when our bodies think we’re hungry, we’re actually just thirsty, so keep plenty of water on-hand and try to drink half your body weight in ounces every day.
Lastly, make sure to bring healthy snacks with you so you don’t get lured into the convenience of fast food or processed/packaged items. Some options are fruit, nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashews), sunflower seeds, RX or Lara bars, packets of almond butter, minimally-processed beef jerky, or a bag of veggies (carrots, celery, snap peas, etc.)