Between poolside drinks, all-you-can-eat buffets, and more, vacation is a time to kick back, relax, and have a blast. For many people, that means putting wellness on the back burner. Unfortunately, what happens on vacation doesn’t stay on vacation when it comes to your health.
Unless you want to bring home a few extra pounds as a souvenir, it’s important to flip the typical script on sticking with your health goals while you travel. Here are a few ways to reverse the self-defeating thoughts we often tell ourselves.
Instead of: “I don’t want to miss out on anything!”
Think: “There’s lots of food around, so I don’t need to worry about missing anything. I can enjoy what I want without eating more than I need.”
- If you’re on a cruise, for instance, food may be available all day long. If you’re exploring a new city, the smells of treats may compete for your attention. Occasional treats are fun, but if you don’t want to overeat, stick with your regular eating schedule with defined times for meals.
Instead of: “I’m on vacation! I should indulge at every opportunity.”
Think: “I want to enjoy this vacation, so I need to stay fueled. I’ll prioritize the food my body needs. Then I’ll enjoy occasional treats that much more.”
- There’s room for extras — but not necessarily at every meal. Even on vacation, enjoy treats as special occasions. Structure the majority of your meals around the balanced plate concept just like you would at home. Make room for treats that you will relish.
Instead of: “Drinks don’t count when you’re on vacation!”
Think: “I will enjoy a drink or two so I can have fun, feel good, and still stay on track.”
- Alcohol can make us more likely to eat mindlessly. If you do drink, keep it moderate — aim for one drink for women and up to two drinks for men per day. Avoid sugary drinks and mixers that pack a lot of calories. Instead, choose wine, light beer, or liquor with a sugar-free mixer like diet soda or seltzer. Alternate every alcoholic drink with a glass of water or seltzer so you can stay fresh and hydrated.
Instead of: “The portions are huge. I can eat so much!”
Think: “There’s plenty of food and there will continue to be plenty. I won’t starve — I can stop eating when I’m satisfied.”
- Restaurant servings tend to be much bigger than what you’d put on a plate at home. Be mindful about portions. Eat to satisfy your hunger, not to clear the plate. There will be plenty more chances to enjoy food for the rest of your life!
Instead of: “It’s too hard to keep up healthy habits when I’m away from home.”
Think: “There’s a lot I can do to stay consistent with healthy habits while traveling. Even sticking to just one healthy habit is better than nothing.”
- Find ways to keep up the healthy routines that you have at home. Do you exercise in the morning? Take advantage of the hotel gym or go for a jog before you start your day. Maybe you drink plenty of water each day? Bring along a refillable water bottle and keep up the great work!
Instead of: “Everything here looks delicious! I have to try it all!”
Think: “I can pick what I love and skip the rest.”
- Use the 80/20 rule. 80% of the time, make the healthiest food choices you can. For the other 20% of the time, enjoy treats, like dessert and alcohol, in moderation. This leaves room for the treats you truly enjoy, but keeps you balanced overall. Remember, it’s about progress, not perfection!
Staying well when you travel doesn’t mean abandoning all fun. There’s plenty of room for great food and drinks as long as you make better choices along the way. Bon voyage!