Sometimes we’ll be in a healthy groove like never before. Our nutrition dense foods are dialed in and our fridges are stocked with fresh fruits and veggies.
Then we go on vacation.
While we knew we were going to eat a little bit unhealthy, we had no idea that there would be that many pastries and dairy products inviting us to indulge. Not only did we make ourselves feel gross for a few days, but we’ve also lost a lot of momentum when we return after vacation!
Traveling should be fun, and while you certainly want to be able to enjoy what you eat, enjoying what you eat doesn’t necessarily mean eating all of the unhealthy things. Plus, you don’t want to lose momentum in your healthy habit lifestyle. Let’s take a look at some ways you can work to maintain healthy eating habits while traveling.
Most people step off the plane with intentions to have the best experience of their lives by having the best meals of their lives. While these desires are admirable, we often forget how junk food makes us feel. If you overload on the lamb and ice cream at dinner before going hard after the eggs benedict the next day, you’ll drain your energy reserves and force your digestive system to work overtime.
Instead of racing into vacation with intentions to load the junk food, head into your next traveling experience with the intention to eat well. Eating well means enjoying local favorites, snacking healthy, and balancing your eating to maintain good bodily health and good energy levels.
Food is certainly one of the great parts of traveling. It isn’t the only great part. Eat in an enjoyable yet sustainable way, and you’ll enjoy traveling even more. Change your mindset about travel goals from feast to balance.
Traveling means changing time zones and wandering around strange places. It throws off the rhythms of our bodies, and makes us crave nutrition and calories at odd times. Listen to your body, but be careful what you respond to it with.
Dietitians recommend that when traveling, you opt for whole food snacks (nuts, fruits, veggies, seeds), and control the amount of sugar you intake (source). If you’re hopping on an airplane to cruise over, pack your own snacks to avoid the fast-food options in the terminals.
While on vacation, you want to enjoy new foods and tastes. Some of these choices won’t be the healthiest options, and that’s okay. Try to make healthy choices when you can do it without sacrificing the vacation experience. Try to opt for lower calorie greens and vegetable based dishes when you can, and avoid the empty calories of unnecessary side dishes.
You’re in a new city, and you’ve gotten great food recommendations from Instagram and unsolicited food recommendations from coworkers. There’s a list longer than your grocery receipt of places to go and treats to try.
Go to all the famous restaurants, and try all those lovely desserts. But explore like someone who is tasting, not someone who is eating. Just because you paid for the giant pastry or enormous bowl of ice cream doesn’t mean you have to “get your money’s worth” by eating the whole thing. “Getting your money’s worth” is about doing what’s best for you, not about stuffing the whole thing into an already crowded stomach.
Indulge, but indulge gently. Don’t feel like you have to eat everything on your plate at every meal, especially if that “meal” is the second dessert place of the day. You can help yourself eat significantly less by eating slower (source). Savor each bite and fully experience the food that you’re having. Not only will this improve the quality of your experience, but you’ll also prevent the calorie-loaded mid-day crash which can be a huge bummer on trips!
If you love a great cup of coffee, and are traveling to a place that can turn that love of coffee into robust tastes and experiences at every turn, there’s a tendency to overdo the caffeine. You might be tempted to drink coffee at strange hours, like extra early in the morning or late at night. You might drink way too much coffee, flooding yourself with caffeine and taking a couple of punches to the digestive system. Pumping your body with extra caffeine on vacation can cause anxiety, insomnia, and digestive issues (source). Because of the importance of sleep and the difficulty of good sleep on vacation, keep the caffeine consumption at normal levels.
Alcohol can pack extra liquid calories into every meal. Choose the lower calorie options when possible, and be intentional about when and where you’re drinking. Don’t just make it a habit to order a couple of drinks at every restaurant you visit.
What should you be drinking? Water. So much water. We generally don’t drink enough water on an average day, so a day that includes different weather conditions, new routines, and significantly more running around will require extra hydration. Make sure you’ve got a bottle to carry along so that you can track water consumption. Drinking water with meals and hitting up water fountains in museums will not do the trick.
After even a few days of altered eating habits, returning home to a boring nutritional routine can be incredibly difficult. There’s not much fresh food in the house, and you’ll be tempted to grab some easy fast food. Make a plan to get groceries as soon as you can so that you’ll be back to eating fresh and healthy.
While you don’t have to return to the same healthy eating habits, you should return to healthy eating habits. Traveling can be a wonderful experience and sometimes we get a bit of a mood crash on the other end as our normal routine settles in again. Don’t let the mood crash induce unhealthy eating! Think about what you’ve learned by traveling, reflect on your journeys, and let the trip inspire you with new healthy eating and lifestyle habits to try.
In fact, you can use the trip as a mental shift in order to develop healthier eating habits than you had before you left (source)!