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Take a Vacation from Guilt with Practical Tips for Healthful Eating

Worried that your upcoming summer getaway will mean overindulgence and more hours on the treadmill? Well you might be relieved to find out that coming home from your next trip doesn’t have to mean running away from the scale.

Paul DeMiglio

Paul DeMiglio

Following a few simple, evidence-based eating strategies will equip you with the tools you need to make healthy choices, burn calories and still have a great time while you’re away.

And guess what? Keeping off the unwanted pounds doesn’t mean having to disrupt your vacation time by spending long hours at the gym. In fact, maintaining good eating habits can even open new doors to trying exciting foods with friends and family.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals, recommends integrating the following steps when taking trips near and far:

  • Enjoy high-calorie foods by sampling them in small amounts. 
  • Share large-portioned meals – which abound in places like restaurants – with your travel companions.
  • Break up your meals throughout the day.
  • Make physical activity part of your plans in simple ways, even if it just means walking to some of your favorite destinations instead of taking the car or using the stairs instead of the elevator at your hotel.

Sharing high-calorie foods is a tip that WebMD’s Expert Columnist Elaine Magee, MPH, RD also recommends when it comes to having dessert:

“Part of being on vacation is enjoying life, and part of enjoying life is ordering dessert when you really want to. If your meal has left you satisfied, you can take your dessert with you and enjoy it later when you are hungry again. You can also share your dessert with one or more dining partners, either at the table or later on.”

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) also agrees that spacing out your meals to several each day boosts weight management, often helping to decrease hunger and reduce the number of calories consumed each day.

If you’re going on a road trip, the Academy says to pack 100-percent fruit juice or bottled water along with easy snacks you can store in your cooler that include fresh fruits and vegetables, deli sandwiches, bean salad or pasta salad.

“When traveling, the key is to plan ahead,” said Angela Lemond, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Speaker, Wellness Coach and Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Look at the day or week ahead of you, and see what the situation allows for you when it comes to eating right.  Plan for unexpected delays or changes in your schedule by packing plenty of snacks.  If you can keep your hunger level controlled, it is much easier to make the right food choices.”

Last week when I went to Rehoboth for a fun getaway with friends, I found that putting some of these tips into practice was easy to do while on the run.

Instead of driving to the beach, for example, we walked there and back as a group. When trying out area restaurants, we sampled desserts and ordered large dishes to share – which actually turned out to be more interesting because we could enjoy a wider selection of food with much less guilt.

So relax, enjoy yourself, and remember that cutting down on calories doesn’t have to mean cutting out the fun during your next excursion.