Healthy eating on vacation: how to manage your diet and avoid excesses, according to experts

The holidays are a time when many people take a break from daily responsibilities to relax and recharge.

Cooking is often replaced by restaurant visits, which usually provide entertainment, but eating out can be a challenge for anyone on a health-conscious diet.

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Add in accommodations and excursions with meals included, food stalls, and various shops selling drinks, snacks, and desserts, and overeating is an easy thing to do when people let their guard down.

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If maintaining a balanced diet while traveling and sightseeing is a major concern, here are eight smart tips from diet, nutrition, and fitness experts.

Check out this list.

People eat at a picnic on the beach.

Going on holiday generally allows people to take a break from cooking and eat outside their chosen accommodation. (Stock)

1. Ditch the buffets and order appetizers with a side of vegetables

Vacations can actually help people meet their health and fitness goals because they often leave home and work stress behind, said Dr. Joan Salge Blake, a Massachusetts-based nutrition professor at Boston University .

For those who need help, however, when it comes to healthier eating, she advises diet-conscious vacationers to avoid buffets and «all you can eat» restaurants that «notoriously serve excessive portions.»

Rather, he said, «Think quality over quantity.»

Person grabs foods at hotel buffet.

Buffets can be a stepping stone to overeating. «Think quality over quantity,» said a nutrition professor. (Stock)

Diet-conscious vacationers should also adjust their restaurant orders by choosing appetizers over an entrée, Blake said.

«Portions will likely be under control and you’ll be able to better regulate your intake,» she said. «Plus, the quality is generally higher.»

Entrees can be combined with side salads or grilled vegetables, Blake said.

«Vegetables are full of water and fiber, so they fill you up before they fill you up,» she explained. «In other words, with these veggie side dishes and the two entrees, you’ll be stuffed.»

2. Review menus before choosing restaurants

Taking the time to review restaurant menus before making a reservation or visiting can help minimize overindulgence, said Kimberley Wiemann, a registered dietitian in Long Island, New York.

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«Most restaurants have their menu available online, and when you plan ahead what you’re going to order, you’re much more likely to make smarter choices,» said Wiemann.

Dad and son look at food menu online.

Many restaurants post their food options online with digital menus. (Stock)

«When you’re already there and enjoying the moment, perhaps sipping a cocktail, people are more likely to overindulge or indulge in less desirable options,» she said.

3. Follow the BDD rule

The BDD rule stands for «Bread, Drink, and Dessert,» and Megan Lyons, a certified clinical and holistic nutritionist who runs The Lyons’ Share Wellness health coaching service in Dallas, Texas, said she swears by it.

«During a regular meal, I recommend choosing just one of these categories,» she said.

«On special occasions, like birthdays or anniversaries, you can indulge in all three without feeling guilty.»

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Lyons recommends the BDD Rule for people who go on vacation and for people who want to practice mindful eating in their everyday lives, she said.

People eat at a table full of food.

If you’re on a health-conscious diet, it’s wise to be wary of drinks and desserts while on vacation, experts suggest. (Stock)

«The reason we focus on these three is that they often pile up in restaurants, where we tend to consume more than we would if we were preparing a healthy meal at home,» she said.

«These choices can take us away from our health goals.»

4. Practice portion control and drink more water

Tracking meal and drink sizes can help vacationers stick to their diets, according to Whitney Prude, a certified health and wellness coach in Rochester, Minnesota, who runs an online health coaching service called Whole & Happy Living.

«Enjoy local cuisine in moderation,» Prude said. «Opt for smaller portions or share dishes with your travel companions. This way you can savor the flavors without consuming excessive amounts of calories.»

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Drinking water is essential to a healthy diet, she added, and staying hydrated is important, especially in hotter climates.

Two people pack on a bed.

Packing a refillable water bottle and using it regularly can help you stay hydrated while you’re on vacation, one expert has suggested. (Stock)

«Water helps regulate appetite and prevents dehydration, which can sometimes be mistaken for hunger,» she said.

«Bring a refillable water bottle and aim to drink enough water to quench your thirst.»

5. Know that protein and fiber are your best friends

Vacationers should incorporate foods high in protein and fiber if overindulgence is a concern, recommended Gisela Bouvier, a registered dietitian in Punta Gorda, Florida.

«Both fiber and protein help increase satiety, as well as keep us fuller longer,» she said.

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Fruits, vegetables, legumes and grains are high in fiber, according to Bouvier, while meat, eggs, tofu and dairy products are high in protein.

The woman eats a healthy meal in front of someone.

Eating foods high in fiber and protein can help you feel full longer, said a registered dietitian. (Stock)

«Including a variety of high-fiber foods and high-protein foods can create versatility in our diets while preventing early hunger,» Bouviers also said.

6. Cut back on cocktails and consider quick exercises

It’s best to cut back on cocktails during extended trips, suggested Karen Owoc, a clinical exercise physiologist who works in the cardiology department at the Palo Alto Health System for Veterans Affairs in San Ramon, California.

«On vacation, there always seems to be an excuse or a reason to have a drink,» she said.

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«When it comes to booze, order wisely. Some fruity, frozen cocktails can have 500 or more empty calories per glass.»

A night of drinking «too much alcohol» can also result in dehydration, uncomfortable bloating, a hangover and ruined fun the next day, according to Owoc.

work out in the gym

Adjusting to a short workout can help you battle high-calorie foods or drinks while you’re on vacation, suggested a clinical exercise physiologist. (Stock)

In terms of exercise, Owoc is a proponent of quick workouts, which might include an eight-minute warmup and an eight- to 12-minute interval of bodyweight exercises.

Depending on the fitness level of the vacationers, the quick workouts can be structured with 30 seconds of activity and 10 to 30 seconds of recovery.

Quick guide to training suggested by Karen Owoc

    – Beginner: 30 seconds active, 30 seconds rest

    – Intermediate: 30 seconds active, 20 seconds rest

    – Advanced: 30 seconds work, 10 seconds rest

«There’s no need to spend hours exercising when you could be visiting the city, especially if your vacation includes a lot of walking or physical activity,» Owoc said.

«An effective express workout alternates exercise with short recovery periods and can be done quickly without any fitness equipment.»

7. Get active as you explore

If gyms aren’t accessible in holiday destinations, embarking on calorie-burning activities can counter some of the spontaneous treats that tempt travelers, according to Loujaina «Juju» Sheikh, a UK-based personal trainer and founder of the Cloud Nine Collective, a fitness and wellness apps.

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«Instead of relying solely on transportation, consider walking or biking to explore your destination,» she said via email.

The person paddles the oar while in a kayak.

Engaging in a strenuous activity like kayaking can help you burn calories while you’re on vacation, a personal trainer has suggested. (Stock)

«Look for outdoor activities like hiking, swimming, snorkeling or kayaking,» Sheikh continued.

«These activities not only provide exercise, but also allow you to enjoy the beauty of your surroundings.»

8. Resist eating bad food while on vacation

People should let go of the notion that they can «be bad on vacation» in terms of food, suggested Caroline Young, a registered dietitian and yoga teacher in Atlanta, Georgia, who offers health coaching services through her Whole Self business. nutrition.

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He told Fox News Digital, «The prospect that we have to earn and compensate for enjoying food and having too much fun just creates big pendulum swings from pre- and post-travel restrictions to screwing it up by eating once you’re there, which creates an environment internal unstable. and negatively affects metabolism, mood and emotional regulation».

Happy elderly couple eating

Practicing healthy eating before vacations generally helps when you’re actually at your chosen destination, one pro has suggested. (Stock)

Also, restrictive diets can cause a person to miss out on tasty cultural fare, Young cautioned.

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She advises vacationers to eat with «health and pleasure» in mind, and to incorporate «nutritious foods when it makes sense» to do so.

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