Taking a vacation is an exciting time. A time to kick back and do nothing. No chores, no commitments and best of all, no meal planning. It’s all too easy to feel like all limits are off because you’ve worked hard and you deserve it!
But since you have worked hard, you deserve to feel great and get the most out of your vacation.
Keep at least some of your usual routine
Although a vacation evokes thoughts of endless leisure time, the reality is that without a little structure, what you end up with is a lot less moving and a lot more eating. Try to keep at least some aspects of the routine you are used to at home. This means try to stick to your usual timing for meals and snacks as well as exercise and sleep. If you are a light sleeper, consider packing earplugs and/or a sleeping mask.
A little exercise is better than none
When on vacation, there are plenty of opportunities for physical activity that don’t have to feel like your regular exercise routine, such as swimming, walking on the beach or outdoor adventures. Most hotels and resorts also have workout facilities and may even have your favorite exercise classes. Even small amounts of exercise or stretching will help keep you feeling great throughout your vacation. Consider packing a set of resistance bands or a travel yoga mat into your luggage.
Before your trip, pack some healthy snacks that are full of fibre, vitamins/minerals and protein, especially for those days you plan to go on excursions or if you have specialized dietary needs. This allows you to maintain some control over your eating and avoid becoming too hungry, which leads to poor food choices or overeating. Considering food safety and travel-ability, examples might include dried fruit, nuts and seeds, high fibre granola bars or other nutritious dried or packaged snacks. You may also want to take some of your favorite high fibre cereal to add to the breakfast offered.
By watching the amount of salt, fat and sugar you eat and by making sure you eat enough fibre, you’ll also help to control bloating and fatigue that can come with traveling.
Know what foods are available
Take a look at the menus offered at your destination to help you decide which items will be top-priority for sampling or special events and where you can go for familiar and healthy foods. Knowing what fresh foods are available at your destination also helps you plan, as fruits and vegetables are often widely available in warm climates and are a great addition to the snacks you bring with you.
Drink lots of water from safe sources. Air conditioning, travelling, hot weather, sun exposure and increased activity will mean you need to drink more to stay hydrated, keep up your energy and mood as well as maintain your gut health. Aim for an additional 3-4 cups each day. Pack an empty water bottle in your luggage that you can fill up before heading to the beach or out for excursions.
Also, be aware of alcoholic beverages – not only do these add extra calories to your day but alcohol also increases your risk of dehydration, increases appetite and reduces inhibitions meaning you’ll reach for more of those less-than-healthy choices. Try alternating alcoholic beverages with low-calorie alcohol-free options.
Remember to eat mindfully
Vacations are a time for exploring the regional fare – go ahead and try new foods! What a perfect opportunity to practice mindful eating. Use those first few bites to really, truly savour the new flavours. Explore the different tastes but taking the time to tune into each flavor note. Take advantage of buffets to sample small amounts of new foods and be selective about what you go back for more of.
Vacations are not a time-out from feeling good. Take time before your vacation to think of 1 or 2 areas that may be a challenge for you. Creating a simple plan ahead of time will help you stay focused and feeling your best – during the vacation as well when it’s all over. This is likely not the best time for a detailed eating itinerary, so stay realistic with your goals and plans. For example, if overeating is often a challenge for you, think about choosing a menu-style service for meals instead of buffets, at least most of the time.
This could also be an opportunity for you to pre-plan some meals for the first few days when you get back home. It’s hard enough shifting back into routine after a fun and relaxing holiday, nevermind coming home to an empty fridge, no plan and a foggy vacation-brain! Having a couple of meals assembled and/or cooked, waiting for you in the freezer can help with the transition back and avoid the temptation to grab take-out or other packaged convenience food.
You’ve gotten vaccinations, bought new gear, researched day-trips. You already have multiple to-do lists started so you can get the most out of this holiday, why not add a few points to keep your body well-fueled and ready for adventure?
For Canadians, the winter months are for escaping to warmer places! This might (or might not) throw a wrench in your health- and fitness-related resolutions. Did you know that any program with Angela (that is at least 3 months long) can be put on hold for up to 2 weeks … so no reason to delay starting until after your vacation! Consider adding a visit with Angela to your pre-trip preparation plans or to help you get back on track afterward: Services.
Angela Hubbard is a Registered Dietitian (RD) and Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) with 10 years experience working in the field of nutrition. Her work focuses on empowering people with young minds and aging bodies as they enter their retirement years and beyond. In her off time she loves swapping recipes, creating and exploring Northern BC life with her young family.