Take Your Healthy Habits on Vacation
Ashley St. Amand Volunteer, Nutrition Services at BIDMC
AUGUST 02, 2016
It isn’t always easy to make healthy choices while on vacation — there are buffets, wonderful flavors of ice cream, unique culinary specialties and did we mention the ice cream? But vacation shouldn’t be a free pass for indulgence. By taking your healthy habits on the road, you’ll feel better, have more energy and be well-positioned to ride the post-vacation wave for weeks and months to come. With that in mind, here are seven helpful tips to chew over before taking your next trip.
- Balance your plate: Maintaining a well-rounded diet will help curb cravings by keeping you full and your blood sugar balanced. Plan to fill your plate proportionally: ¼ protein, ¼ whole grains and ½ vegetables and fruit. In buffets and restaurants, choose leaner meats or vegetable proteins like poultry, fish, beans, lentils and tofu. Brown rice and quinoa are tasty whole grain options. And for vegetables, make non-starchy choices like spinach, cauliflower, mushrooms, onions, peppers, tomatoes, broccoli and asparagus.
- Eat mindfully: Vacation is the perfect time to slow down both body and mind. But it’s important to know that eating mindfully is more than just eating slowly, it’s about putting down your fork after each bite to become aware of your pace and enjoy the full experience of eating. By doing this, your stomach will have more time to send signals to your brain that you’re full, so you’ll be less likely to over-indulge.
- Stay hydrated: A key to maintaining healthy habits on vacation is staying hydrated, especially if you’re traveling someplace hot. Water, unsweetened iced tea, club soda and diluted fruit juices are all great options to increase your liquid intake. If you want to switch things up, try infusing your water with fruit and herbs such as strawberries with basil or lemon and mint. It can be helpful to keep in mind the standard advice of drinking 8 cups a day, but know that this isn’t a strict rule and individual needs vary depending on age, weather and activity level.
- Choose active pursuits: Vacation is no time to sit around. Hike, bike, swim, or paddle — whatever your pleasure, get out and get active! Explore local trails, practice yoga on the beach, try paddle boarding or kayaking, or walk to a must-see destination or shop. There are many ways to get active — if you need help, speak with someone at the local visitor center or a hotel concierge.
- Treat yourself to local delicacies: Exploring new cuisines or regional specialties can be a highlight of any vacation, and the occasional indulgence is absolutely all right. If that box of fried clams or fruity shaved ice is calling your name, then have it as a one-time treat and choose lighter, healthier options the remainder of the day.
- Satisfy your sweet tooth with fruit: You’ll be surprised at how well fruit can satisfy your sugar craving. And fresh, seasonal fruits are a great way to learn more about a local cuisine and culture. Fruit’s natural sugars usually enter your body with fiber, so they have more time to digest, which keeps your blood sugar better balanced. That’s the opposite of desserts full of added sugars, which are quickly absorbed into your bloodstream and can cause spikes in your blood sugar. So reach for a peach, run for a plum or tango for a mango, just make sure to choose natural sugars as your go-to desert.
- Limit your alcohol intake: Raise the occasional bottle of micro-brewed beer or your favorite glass of wine. It is vacation, after all. Just keep in mind that alcoholic beverages deliver hefty calories in a small amount. Mixed drinks are often full of hidden sugars/syrups and additives. Your best bet are lower calorie options such as light beer (12 ounces), dry wine (5 ounces) or spirits mixed with club soda and a splash of fruit juice.