A vacation is a time to relax, explore and embrace a break from your busy life. But, whether you’re visiting family or traveling with them, it can at times be a stressful affair that derails healthy eating routines. However, with proper planning, I can show you how to eat healthy on vacation and defuse the unease surrounding with ten tips to help you keep your 8fit meal plan momentum and stick to healthy eating habits while traveling or visiting family.
Just say “no.”
If your family is anything like mine, food is equated with love, and some families have a whole lot of love to give. I’ve always found it extremely difficult (and still do) to visit my family because they thoughtfully always buy my favorite childhood foods when I’m over — cookies, ice cream, macaroni and cheese, Reese’s peanut butter cups, etc. As sweet a gesture as that is, and as easy as it is to appease them just by eating these tantalizing treats, it took me a while to learn firmly say “no” when I didn’t want something.
The same goes when you’re traveling with friends, and you’re under peer pressure. The more you practice saying it, the easier it gets. Just say no thank you and that you’re not hungry and if it doesn’t work the first time, try, try, again.
Visit the local grocery store
One of my favorite ways to get to know a new place when I’m on vacation is to visit the local grocery store and explore all the regional foods. If you’re staying with family, stock up on your healthy meal plan staples and keep them at home. If your family are up for it, why not offer to plan and cook dinner so you can buy well-balanced foods and share your favorite 8fit recipes with them. If you’re staying in a hotel or hostel, get foods that don’t require refrigeration like nuts or nut butter, whole grain bread, fresh fruit, and vegetables.
Eat breakfast in
It’s said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but it’s also one of the easiest ways to keep you on track. Preparing and eating breakfast at home (or wherever your home base is for your stay), will help fuel you for the day of activities ahead. Here are our some 8fit team favorites for quick and healthy breakfasts.
Ever wonder why you go straight for the candy when you go to the grocery store after a long day? Even if you’ve got the best intentions, when you’re starving you’re instinct will be to grab the quickest source of fuel — why hello there sugary, simple carbs. This is your brain and body doing their job and sourcing your energy as fast as possible.
To prevent entering the hunger danger zone, bring easy to pack snacks with you like nuts, dried soybeans, minimally processed jerky, hard boiled eggs, string cheese, peanut butter, and celery sticks.
Avoid an ‘all or nothing’ mentality
Just because you’re on vacation, doesn’t mean you need to treat every meal like it’s your last one. When you eat like it’s the last supper you’re telling your body that it’s okay to eat three helpings of your mom’s famous apple pie today because tomorrow you promise you won’t have any sugar. Rather than taking on a black or white approach, add some color here and there while you’re away. Maybe you treat yourself to half a slice of that apple pie tonight and half tomorrow. Remember folks, eating healthy on vacation is all about balance.
Prepare a picnic
Some of my favorite travel memories are picnicking. I remember eating in a small park with my mom in London, at the beach with my friend in San Diego, and having freshly baked bread with cheese while alone in Paris. Whether you’re traveling alone or with loved ones, having a picnic is one of the best ways to take in your surroundings and eat mindfully.
Focus on fruits and veggies
When in doubt think to fill half of your plate with vegetables, a quarter with protein and a quarter with whole grains or complex carbs then add a dash of healthy fat. Aim to have every meal and snack contain a fresh fruit or vegetable. This will give you nutrients and water that keep you feeling good and nourish your body while traveling.
Eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re comfortable. Sounds easy right? Not all the time. To help you along, check-in with yourself from time to time.
Before you start eating, take a few breaths
Ask yourself how hungry you are on a scale of 1-10
Halfway through your meal do it again
If you are full, try putting your napkin on your plate or push the meal away so it symbolizes you’ re done
If you’re a chronic over-orderer — your eyes are bigger than your stomach — try sharing a meal
Check out more of my mindful eating tips.
Walk this way
If the place you are visiting is pedestrian-friendly, then walking is a fantastic way to explore a new place — the added bonus, think about all the money you’ll save on public transport, which I like to use towards a coffee or a local treat. Walking and often embracing getting lost, is my favorite way to see a new place. I love letting the streets guide me rather than following a map. As for family time, a walk is my savior. Even taking ten minutes to myself for a walk around the neighborhood helps to tune into myself for a little me time and self-care.
Between catching flights, recovering from jet lag, being aware of new surroundings, and of course, family; traveling can be stressful and exhausting. Stress and lack of sleep mean that our cortisol levels will be higher and our sugar cravings will peak. Try grounding yourself by taking deep, slow breaths and inhaling that healing air.
Try this: Before starting a meal, take three deep breaths, deep into your belly. As you exhale, contract your stomach, so all air exists. Then you can ask yourself if you really need that sweet treat?
Be gentle with yourself and realize that the vacation won’t last forever and enjoy non-food related fun and activities. Try your best when eating healthy on vacation and know that every meal or movement is a chance to practice self-care.