A lot of people think of vacation as a time they can just let loose and not worry about what they’re eating. I know I used to be like this. My wife even used to say, “calories don’t count on vacation.” Yet, if you want to stay healthy on vacation, this is the worst attitude to have.
Back in the day, my wife and I used vacation (or holidays or birthdays or Sundays or…etc.) as an excuse to eat whatever we wanted and in whatever amount we wanted. “Hey, I’m on vacation, I can have an entire cheesecake. “
Of course, this mindset derailed all the hard work with exercise or dieting we did the weeks or months prior. No wonder we never achieved our goal weight.
Back then we were quite overweight. I think obese is what the dietitians would call us. I was teetering on the morbidly obese category. This was before we went paleo and lost a collective 150 pounds.
Staying Healthy On Vacation
These days we have a much healthier relationship with food. We no longer view special occasions as reasons to binge eat and thus, ruin our health.
Eating better and staying healthy on vacation allows you to enjoy the reason you went on vacation to begin with, which is to enjoy the experiences and the family you came with.
Being healthy on vacation allows you to be more present. No more zombie-like food comas. No more sitting in the hotel room stuffed to the gills or needing a nap to recover from brunch.
BTW: Needing a nap and enjoying a nap are 2 different things. (I LOVE a good nap!)
It Takes Just A Little More Effort (just a little more)
Our family is gearing up for a trip to the beach next week, and now that we have 3 kids, it’s even more important we stay healthy on vacation. We’ll need the energy to keep up with them.
We’ve been looking into the different restaurants near us that have gluten free menus and doing the necessary planning to make sure we don’t veer to far off our healthy path.
Staying healthy on vacation is not hard. It does take a little extra effort, but that’s not all the different from eating healthy at home.
Here are my top 8 tips for staying healthy on vacation
1-Commit To Staying Healthy On Vacation
Not a very fun tip to talk about, but it is a necessary one. The person most likely to derail your healthy efforts is you. Sure, you can blame your spouse or your kids (I used to), but the only person that controls the food you put in your mouth is you.
A healthy mindset and a personal commitment to yourself to stay healthy on vacation is a necessary step one.
Try saying something like this to yourself,
“My vacation is not an excuse to binge and eat junk food. I do not want to gain 5-10 pounds on this trip. I want to be present with my family and truly enjoy the experience, so I commit to staying healthy on vacation.”
You’re Setting The Example
If you’re a parent like me, you have to always remember that the food choices you’re making are setting the example and teaching your children to have a healthy relationship with food. Teach them that vacations are about the experience not about the food.
You spend hours, days, or even weeks planning your vacation, so spend a few more minutes planning out your meals. Find restaurants that serve better quality food, like local grass fed burgers or have a designated gluten-free menu.
My wife actually found a bakery near our destination that offers gluten-free and organic options. We will definitely be checking that place out!
The Find Me Gluten Free App is a great tool to help with this, and it’s a free app. I also have a post on 5 fast food paleo options, which may help you if you’re road tripping or looking for a quick meal.
Take the time to plan out your meals for the week and try to limit the number of times you eat out if possible. One meal out per day seems like a reasonable target to help you stay healthy on vacation.
For me, one of the reasons I end up eating something that’s unhealthy or at a place I’d rather not eat at, is because we didn’t plan ahead. Hunger strikes suddenly. Then you make poor choices, picking the easiest option not necessarily the best one.
3- Pack Snacks
Snacks, snacks, & more snacks. Have plenty of healthy snacks on hand at all times.
When you, or more likely the kids, get hungry between meals, you need to have something to give them. Kids can get grumpy, and that vending machine down the hall or gas station across the street is a far too convenient place to find something to give them.
Having healthy snacks also prevents everyone from getting too hungry before dinner. If you’re too hungry, then you may end up overeating at mealtime, so it’s a good idea to over prepare and pack extra snacks.
Here are 3 posts I’ve written in the past if you’re looking for healthy travel snacks!
4- Cook Some Of Your Meals
If you’re renting a house or have a hotel with a kitchenette, cooking most of your meals is an easy way to stay healthy on vacation. If you don’t have access to a kitchen on vacation, you can still cook some of your meals.
Honestly, I’m not a huge fan of the Instant Pots, but they are really handy if you’re staying in a hotel and want to cook some of your meals. While you are planning your meals for the week, make sure you’re include some recipes you can make in the Instant Pot.
If you have a programmable one, you can even set it up in the morning and then go enjoy your day. By the time you get home, your next meal is ready. Easy peasy.
Batch & Freeze
Another good idea is to precook your meals before you leave for vacation. The grandparents will be vacationing with us, and grandma has been busy cooking simple meals and freezing them for beach week.
Hit The Local Grocery Store
If you’re flying pre-cooking and freezing meals is not a feasible option for you. You can still hit the local grocery store and pick up healthier food options. Cold meals like salads, sandwiches (on GF bread of course), canned salmon/tuna are a few ideas of things you can even make in a hotel room.
5- Be Reasonable
While you should make every effort to stay healthy on vacation, you will inevitably end up eating food you normally would not. When this happens, just be reasonable. You don’t need bacon, eggs, biscuits & gravy, potatoes, and 3 pancakes. (my vacation breakfast 10 years ago)
On our vacation last year, my wife and I went out for a date night and left the kids with the grandparents. We went to a gluten free pizza joint, which is not something we would normally eat (since we’re paleo).. We didn’t get one each plus dessert as we would have in the past. We kept it reasonable and split a pizza.
If you’re going to go out to eat, just make smart decisions. Keep it simple and maybe skip the alcohol too.
6- Be Active
Another great way to stay healthy on vacation is stay active. You don’t have to go rock climbing or anything crazy like that. Just try and go on hikes or walk instead of driving short distances. As you’re walking, explore this new place, take in the culture or uniqueness that it has to offer while enjoying time with your loved ones.
7- Involve The Kids
As you’re planning, it’s a great idea to get your kids involved. Ask them what they want to see and do, what they want to eat, and what kind of snacks would they like to have.
Depending on their age and/or maturity level you may want to give them specific items to choose from. (ie do you want an apple or grapes for snack- or would you rather have pizza for dinner or eat something healthy and have frozen yogurt for dessert).
Getting the kids involved makes them more likely to be cooperative. Teaching them about being healthy even on vacation will go a long way in turning them into healthy adults too.
8- Pack Supplements
It may be a good idea to pack a few key supplements while you’re traveling. A good digestive enzyme and probiotic can help to mitigate some of the damage done to your gut while eating away from home. If you find yourself with an upset stomach, a couple capsules of activated charcoal might offer some relief too.
Don’t Stress. Enjoy Yourself and Your Family
Do the best you can to stay healthy on vacation, but if you decide to indulge then embrace it.
Really savor the treat you’ve decided to have, and enjoy it mindfully.
Don’t beat yourself up afterwards. What’s done is done, one treat will not ruin your vacay. Just remember to stay reasonable, don’t have too much at once or indulge too frequently.
Want Tips for staying gluten and/or dairy free on vacation?
I asked my Facebook followers for their tips. Check it out below.