I think the toughest thing about being on vacation is controlling the feeling that we should have the liberty to eat and drink whatever we want. Some common thoughts that run through our heads are ‘we deserve it’, ‘why not, I am on vacation’, and/or ‘I never get this chance again!’ Especially when we are exploring a new place or country which may mean that there are foods and drinks intermingle with our overall experience. So why not try everything, right? So how can one still enjoy all the things a new place has to offer without the risk of bringing home the extra weight?
Realistically, what I recommend my patients is giving permission to themselves to enjoy on vacation, which could actually help them end up losing some weight at the end of the trip. At times, when we are too hard on ourselves because we are counting every little calorie, ounce, and pound, we could unintentionally beat ourselves up too much, resulting in this “all or nothing” mentality—which then sends us into this mindset where we overeat or even binge…for the heck of it.
In the process of planning a trip, make a conscious decision to be aware of our perception of eating. Meaning, tell yourself that you are going to try everything but in moderation. Also, taking a bite here and there allows you to try more things without feeling stuff from the first thing you eat!
Enjoy the food and show some appreciation of the origin of the foods, understand why certain types of ingredients /spices are used in those regions. Sometimes, understanding what you are eating actually slows down the experience and you may end up taking in fewer calories.
Now, with input, there must be output.
Having fun during your travels is not just about eating and drinking. Incorporate physical activity daily so you can expend the calories you do end up eating. Activate that pedometer on your phone and track your steps. Every 10,000 steps are equivalent to an average of five miles! Granted, we do end up walking more when we travel, but on top of that plan out trips that require a higher level of activity. One of my favorites is guided walking tours which allows you to really explore the city with a local. I mean, who wants to lay around in a hotel the whole time?
When you do incorporate restaurants as a focus, you can always share portions with other people which would allow you to try more of everything. Sometimes, we become nervous with food portions because it’s our first time or even some countries continue what they perceive as one serving (which could be very different compared to the US). Understand that other countries may actually serve the appropriate serving per person and some of my clients are shocked at how much food we are oftentimes exposed to in the US.
I try to practice what I preach, so I always make an effort in bringing a set of gym clothes and my running shoes so I set myself up to do something active a few days throughout the trip. Also, most gyms do have a fitness center which is oftentimes underutilized. If you end up in a fancier resort, they would even rent out gym shoes!
Also, set up a spa treatment for yourself and see it as a treat for staying on top of your workouts.
But most importantly, find restaurants with a good variety of dishes and always order a salad of some sort to take advantage of the fiber. Oftentimes, we don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables when we travel which can make an impact on our bowel movement habits.
By: Dr. Amy Lee, Head of Nutrition for Nucific
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