I have a quick post for you all this week - part one of two :) In case I haven't mentioned it, my family and I are heading for vacation at the end of this week and I thought it was a perfect time to talk about how to keep up with your nutrition and fitness goals while travelling!
Many of us have been there before - we work hard to save our money, eat right to attempt to lose weight, and hit the gym harder than usual whenever there is a vacation on the horizon. And that is all well and good, it's great to have goals that motivate you to work hard and take good care of yourself, but why does it seem that all of that hard work goes out the window as soon as we hit the beach, resort, or hotel? Much of the effort we put into get into shape to feel our best on vacation can be easily undone with a week or two of over-consuming alcohol, snack foods, and a lot of eating out.
So what happens then? We come home from vacation feel bloated, unhealthy, and possibly with a few unwanted pounds instead of relaxed, rejuvenated, and healthy! Now I'm the first to admit that even as a dietitian I like to indulge on some of the 'extras' that come along with being on vacation - whether it's my favorite cocktail or glass of wine, dessert more often than usual, or delicious fancy frappe coffee drinks, I often eat 'imperfectly' when on vacation. In fact, I eat 'imperfectly' most of the time - because I think it's healthy for us to enjoy ALL foods, both those that nourish our bodies with vitamins and minerals and those that nourish our soul by making us feel good and bringing back memories of our favorite childhood treats! 'Imperfect' eating - and by that I mean eating less nutritious foods for pleasure in moderation IS perfect eating in my book! And although I love to treat myself to pedicures, french fries, and sleeping-in on vacation, I also want to come home feeling healthy and happy - not stressed, bloated, and uncomfortable!
So in honor of healthy, happy travelling (which I LOVE) I thought I would share my plan for staying on track during this family vacation and then post part 2 when I return and let you all know how it goes!
One of the first things to consider when planning a vacation is deciding where you are going to stay. For this trip, my family and I have opted to rent a house since it means more space, our own pool, and of course more control over our food choices! We've rented homes in the past and the best part about it is that even if you eat out for 1 - 2 meals each day, all of your breakfasts and snacks can be nutritious, not to mention much cheaper! We plan to eat a sensible breakfast everyday of eggs, oatmeal, fruit, yogurt, and/or toast. This will fill us up without overfilling us with fat, calories, and sodium found in many traditional quick breakfast joints. I love bacon and cinnamon buns but I don't need to be tempted with it every morning for breakfast. Instead, fueling with the same nutritious choices I would make at home ensures that we will start each day off right and with enough energy to squeeze in as much fun as possible!
The best laid plans . . .
Planning big group vacations often starts months - if not years in advance. We plan and plan and plan some more but even the best laid plans can go awry. Whether it's that your flight gets delayed, your rental car doesn't show up, or your house is MUCH further from restaurants and grocery stores than anticipated, it's good to be prepared for any situation. The first thing that often happens when travelling is that we focus so much on getting here, there, and everywhere that we forget to factor in the fact that we need to eat! I for one get pretty cranky when I don't eat every 3 - 4 hours so I never go anywhere without SOMETHING in my purse to tide me over and prevent me from pulling up to the first hot dog stand that I see. For this trip, because we are leaving the country I can't pack fruit and vegetables on the plan (which I would do in other cases), so sometimes a high fibre, high protein, energy bar is just what the dietitian ordered! I usually pack enough for the whole group because between driving, flying, and waiting in-line, it's almost inevitable that you will miss a meal while travelling. Although most protein bars are high in calories and sugar, they can be the perfect meal on-the-go when fresh ingredients just aren't possible. I picked up a box at Costco and will definitely be packing some in my carry-on!
Plan to eat . . .
This one sounds obvious, but often when travelling we don't plan to eat until we need to eat right at that moment! By planning when you are going to eat, particularly when going to and from your main destination, you can be sure that you won't compromise nutrition for the first fast thing you see. For my family that means stopping for dinner as soon as we land instead of trying to find our house, unpack our luggage, and look around our vacation destination before realizing it's been 8 hours since we last ate. A grumpy family is not a happy family! We have also all sat down together to discuss what type of food we want in the house, which meals we will make in the house, and which ones we will go out to eat. By having a grocery list already made, and by mapping out where the nearest grocery store is, we can stock up on meal items and snacks the first night and just enjoy the rest of our vacation. Our grocery list includes some snack foods like chips and salsa, and muffins, but also includes things like a pre-cut veggie tray, lots of fresh fruit, yogurt, and sandwich fixin's.
Bend the 'rules' . . .
Most people have certain eating 'rules' they follow when at home such as avoiding dessert most nights, only having 1 - 2 drinks per week, avoiding restaurants, and not eating after 8 pm. Think carefully about which of your habits you can realistically stick to while on vacation and figure out which ones you can bend. For me, I usually don't snack at night but with all of the extra activity I anticipate we'll be doing, I know I will need more than 3 square meals in a day and will likely consume more like 5 - 6 small meals in order to keep my energy up. I also usually aim to stick to only 3 fruits per day and get the rest of my daily fruit and vegetable servings from vegetables, but since we will be in a hot and sunny place I plan to take advantage of the fresh fruit available and allow myself some wiggle room on the ratio of fruit to vegetable intake. One rule I know I won't bend on is the water rule! Travelling can cause you to become dehydrated - add that to the extra sun and activity and drinking enough H20 will be a major priority to keep me feeling my best both on vacation and when I return home!
Strategize . . .
On this vacation, I will inevitably find myself out at some restaurants that don't have many dietitian approved items, so having a strategy in place to deal with these situations will ensure I don't end up feeling totally icky by day 7 of the trip. For me, that usually means attempting to have at least one fruit or vegetable at every meal, ordering a large salad to start and share while out at restaurants, immediately getting a to-go box and packing up half my meal for later (also a big money saver), and asking the server to order off the kids or seniors menu that usually provide smaller portions are all great plans for staying on track!
Move! . . .
Even though I anticipate my family and I will do a LOT of swimming and walking while away, I still plan to fit in at least a few days of exercise even if it's only 20 - 30 minutes. I'm lucky enough to have a husband that will go running with me, make up a quick workout in a nearby park or green space, or even do some morning yoga by the pool. These activities help me feel like I still have some of my home routine while travelling and even though they don't necessarily cancel out the extra treats I might have, some movement/exercise is better than none! I like to keep up with some resistance exercises - even if it's only with my own body weight because it's amazing how quickly you can lose strength after only a week or two away from the dumbbells!
So there you have it - my very basic plan for staying fit, nourished, happy, and healthy while travelling! I likely won't post next Monday since I'll still be away, but I will fill you in on how it goes in Part Two when I return.
Feel free share your favorite healthy travel tips in the comments down below! Have a fabulous week everyone!