Summer Vacations and Your Health Goals

Summer is just beginning, though with the taste of hotter days we have had it feels like July already. Summer means time for vacations, whether that is across the ocean, across the country, or across the state. Wherever you are on your health journey, these situations can toss a wrench into your routine. Ideally, you can adapt to these situations and not let it control you or fully throw you off track.

No matter where you go, it is essential to plan. Planning ahead gives you more control and empowers you to make the healthiest decisions even away from home. If possible, pick a rental or hotel room with a kitchen. You can buy some groceries and prepare some meals without eating out the whole time. Airports are full of food options, but it may be harder to pick out the more nutritious choices on the fly. Try eating a balanced, nutritious meal prior to leaving and pack some TSA-friendly snacks in your bag like protein bars, veggie sticks, nuts, or jerky. If you are driving to your destination, pack a cooler for the road. Don’t forget a water bottle! Hydration is just as important to keep up with while traveling.

Even if you do pack some food, you will likely still be eating out through the trip. Don’t stress about it! Planning is also helpful in this situation. Scope out the menu ahead of time so you have time to pick out some options. Don’t go to the restaurant overly hungry. Eat a snack with protein and/or fat if you know you will be eating at a different time than usual. Vacations are a time to enjoy yourself and have a treat. Splitting is always an option when it comes to entrees and desserts. Pay close attention to your natural fullness cues. Don’t end the night overly full and uncomfortable. You and your Dietitian can talk more in-depth about how to make better choices at restaurants.

What happens if your weight goes up after a vacation? Don’t let that discourage you! It’s likely water weight anyway. Avoid restricting food intake. Ease back into your normal eating routine and listen to your body. If you ate less vegetables than you thought you would, plan to add an extra serving of them to your next few meals. If you have jetlag, do some lighter exercise, like walking.

Vacations can feel challenging, but they don’t have to be with some planning in place. It’s never good to allow restriction to take away from enjoying things. Even if your plan didn’t pan out like you had hoped, it’s not helpful to beat yourself up. It happens. It was for a short time out of your journey. We all recover and get back on track. Lean on your Dietitian or other accountability partners for extra support if needed.

-Natalie Day, MS, RDN, LD

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