A recent study published in the journal Physiology & Behavior (March 2016) evaluated 122 adults 1 week before taking a vacation, 1 week after, and 6 weeks after returning from vacation. The study revealed that physical activity and body weight BOTH increased while on vacation and stress levels decreased. The interesting finding of the study was that the weight gained by the study participants while on vacation persisted 6 weeks after returning home. This study showed that weight gained while on vacation may lead to long-term weight gain over time.
If you’ve struggled with vacation weight-gain in the past, it doesn’t have to be the norm for you! After all, vacations are supposed to be about fun, family, and sunshine, not unwanted weight gain.
Here are 5 healthy travel tips to help you ward off weight gain while fully enjoying your summer vacation plans:
Healthy travel tip #1: Eat like you’re at home. I’m certainly not saying not to indulge a little while on vacation, just try to make reasonable choices as if you were eating at home. If you normally wouldn’t eat 4 cups of pasta in a sitting at home, don’t do it on vacation. If you normally wouldn’t eat 2 desserts in a day at home, don’t do it on vacation. Enjoy some indulgences and enjoy them thoroughly! The rest of the time, eat healthy real food meals and snacks just like you would if you were at home.
Healthy travel tip #2: Choose healthy snacks. However you’re getting to where you’re going whether it’s by car, plane, boat, or RV, don’t fall into the trap of highly processed, sugar-fat-salt laden “snack food”. Returning to tip #1, if you’d normally eat cut veggies and hummus or a piece of fruit and a small handful of raw nuts as a snack when you’re at home, pack these for your vacation travel snacks. When planning and eating snacks on the go, think about protein + a veggie, fruit, or whole grain.
Healthy travel tip #3: Fill half your plate at lunch and dinner with veggies and leafy greens. This one is simple but not always easy depending on where you’re at. As an Integrative RDN, it’s one of my most common recommendations to clients to help them get enough produce each day and it works at home, while eating out, AND on vacation (veggies and leafy greens are filling nutritional powerhouses loaded with fiber, phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, and water).
Healthy travel tip #4: Choose water. Carry a reusable water bottle with you and fill it up frequently. Staying well hydrated is a great way to prevent dehydration and prevent unnecessary sugar or snack cravings. Seltzer water or unsweetened iced tea are also good choices to add some variety but try to stick with water as much as possible. If you’re going to have alcohol, plan how you’re going to handle it like X number of drinks between X days of vacation or no drinks until dinner to keep you on track.
Healthy travel tip #5: Get active everyday. While the participants of the Physiology & Behavior study were more active on vacation and still gained weight, a little activity everyday while on vacation goes a long way. Whether you’re up for a walk at your destination, a stroll or run on the beach, a bike ride, or you’re up for hitting the gym for a short time, try to get active everyday. Not only will you feel better, being physically active may help shift your mindset toward healthier food and beverage choices at meals and snacks.
What’s your best healthy travel tip? Leave a comment below. Happy healthy travels! -Erin