How To Stay Healthy On Vacation Without Missing Out

How to Stay Healthy on Vacation Without Missing Out

Vacation. We look forward to it all year. We count how many vacation days we have remaining at the office. We carefully select our companions and our destinations. We labor over packing and our wardrobes. We plan our excursions and beach reads and sun hats. (Are you a fedora or a giant sun hat or a simple baseball cap person?) We change our Facebook profile photos and make everyone horribly jealous.

Book a Hotel with a Gym, and Use it

Yes, it's vacation, but 30 minutes in the gym before breakfast won't kill all the fun. In addition to the gym, see if your hotel offers any activities. Many hotels and resorts offer morning yoga, fitness classes, or free water sports. 

Choose Low-Sugar Alcoholic Beverages

The calories, carbs and sugars in a few too many cocktails can counteract all of the other healthy choices you make and lead to alcohol-induced overeating. "Choose a beverage that is low in sugar and drink it slowly," clinical nutritionist Amanda Hayes Morgan suggests. "The slower you drink, the less likely you are to continue eating after you're full. Look for drink options with no added sugar or craft your own." High-quality vodka with soda water and fresh fruit is Morgan's choice. Also, try alternating a cocktail with a glass of water to slow your pace. 

Choose Protein-Based Appetizers

"Has there ever been a time when you left dinner and said, 'I'm so glad I ate half the bread basket?'" asks Morgan. Unlikely. Her rule of thumb: Skip the bread and "instead choose a protein-based appetizer to feel more satiated and avoid overeating later in the meal." Some appetizer ideas include sashimi, lettuce wraps with chicken, tuna carpaccio and grilled shrimp. 

Do Something Active Every Day

There are so many options with this one! Do your regular workouts, but kick them up a notch: Go for your usual morning jog...but across the Golden Gate Bridge. Take your yoga class on the beach in Cozumel. Swim laps in the ocean or find a local hiking trail to a scenic destination. If you'd prefer, plan something out of the norm that seems more like a vacation activity. Maybe a stand-up paddleboard tour around your favorite island or a sunset kayak. Try something you've never done but always thought sounded fun. Bonus points if it's free! 

Do Your Research

Before you head out on your fabulous vacation, take the time to Google as much as you can about the area you're traveling to. "Look for healthy restaurants that source locally, and organic juice/smoothie spots for when you need a snack," recommends Morgan. Menus can be perused online ahead of time to help make better choices. "That being said," she continues, "experiencing a new culture is half the fun on vacation, so make sure to give yourself the flexibility to enjoy what the locals have to offer. Balance is key." 

Make Healthy (But Delicious!) Food Choices

Eating out is a fact of vacation for many, but "The Healthy Chef" and fitness trainer Teresa Cutter recommends not filling up on "stodge food" — nutritionally empty, high-carb foods (such as bread and pasta) that stuff you but leave you feeling lousy. Instead, opt for more nutritious choices. "Choose grilled fish and a side salad instead of deep-fried fish and chips. You'll only be consuming a third of the calories and a fifth of the fat," says Cutter. "If you're going to have a pizza, make it a good one! Woodfired, thin-crust, and whole-grain if they have it. Top it with as many veggies as you can...Choose tomato-based soups, burritos with lean chicken or fish, salad, or vegetables." Cutter also recommends eating a leafy green salad with meals, citing a Pennsylvania State University study that found that people consumed 12 percent fewer calories when they ate the salad than when they didn't. 

Skip the All-Inclusive

All-inclusive resorts often sacrifice food quality for quantity. They also create a difficult environment for controlling your food and beverage intake. Instead book a less expensive vacation rental or boutique hotel. You'll save money on accommodations and get to explore more of your destination, including the regional cuisine. Local dives, farm-to-table restaurants, and fresh-caught seafood shacks are a great way to get the flavor of a city. And they beat the all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet any day.   


Take a Morning Jog

Jog, run, walk...just get moving around the beautiful, interesting, exotic place you've chosen to visit! Incorporate exercise into your plans to explore the area. Take a stroll for your morning coffee to scout out restaurants, bars and shops for later. Jog to some of the local sites — you'll create your own free, on-foot city tour and stay active in the process. Teresa Cutter believes in the 10,000 Steps Program: "If you walk 10,000 steps a will be walking towards improving your health." 

Vacation Doesn't Need to Start at the Airport

There will be plenty of time to indulge on your trip, so don't start eating junk at the airport or on the plane when it's not even worth it. The airport food court, vending-machine candy bags, and cans of soda on the plane can set you off-track before you've even left the tarmac. Instead, make smarter airport choices like fresh fruit, nuts, salads, and bottles of water. Or, even better, pack healthy snacks or a sandwich to bring for your travels.