Eating Healthy on Vacation
There’s nothing more fun than planning a summer vacation. Picking a place to stay, researching fun spots to visit, shopping for new trip-ready clothes – it’s something to look forward to all year. But for all your research and planning, there’s one important topic that often gets left out: nutrition. Eating on the go can make it a lot harder to get the nutrients your body is used to…and with so many enticing options to try when you’re travelling, it can be tricky to keep track of what you’re eating – and what you’re missing out on.
Generally speaking, eating out in restaurants means you’re eating more food, drinking more alcohol or sugary beverages – and getting less fibre and fewer fresh fruits and vegetables. Not ideal, right? But with a little foresight and planning, you can still eat healthy, wherever you are. Here are some of our favourite tips.
Before you leave…
Whether you’re traveling by car, train or airplane, plan ahead and pack some of your favourite healthy snacks in case you get peckish on your journey. Look for ingredients that are high in fibre to keep you satiated for longer, like unsalted mixed nuts, dried fruits and whole grain crackers. Or go to your favourite bulk store and make your own trail mix! For longer trips, think about making yourself a sandwich or wrap – or bring a container of sliced veggies and dip. Trust us, you’re not missing out on anything if you skip the airline-provided meal…
Another thing that’s easy to forget on the go? Staying hydrated. All too often when we’re travelling, we think we’re hungry for a snack, but we’re actually just dehydrated! Being out in the sunshine means you’re sweating more, which increases your body’s need for water. The best way to combat dehydration on a trip? Buy a lightweight, leakproof water bottle you love. If you’re flying, you can fill it up once you’re through security…and once you get to your destination, fill it up before leaving your hotel for some on-the-go sipping. Easy, right?
Once you’re there…
First things first. A good breakfast is important every day – but especially when you’re on vacation. Try and eat a balanced breakfast within two hours of waking up. Not only is it a wonderful way to start the day…breakfast gives your body the fuel it needs to get going. Plus, eating breakfast helps control your calorie consumption later in the day. Think you can skip breakfast so you can pile on more exciting foods at dinner? Think again. By skipping your first meal of the day, you’re actually slowing your metabolism down, which makes your body burn fewer calories as energy…and store them as fat instead. So even if you’re watching your calorie intake, breakfast is not the place to make a cut.
How can you make sure you eat a healthy breakfast when you’re away from home? A little planning is all it takes. Find a grocery store or market near your accommodations, and load up on fresh fruits, yogurt, muesli, nuts and anything else you need to start your day. By starting your day off with the right mix of fibre and nutrients, you’ll be setting yourself up with all the energy you need to enjoy your vacation to the fullest.
Next up, eating smart the rest of the day. Still got those healthy snacks you bought at home? Throw some in your bag before you leave the hotel, in case you need a pick-me-up between meals. By snacking smart, you won’t go into lunch or dinner feeling famished, so you can enjoy your food without going overboard on portion size.
When you get to a restaurant, there’s no need to overthink your choices – hey, you’re on vacation after all! But there are a few small tweaks you can make to keep it on the healthy side without compromising on enjoyment. For example, if you’re getting a burger or sandwich, opt for a side salad instead of fries. Or, if you do get the fries, try to stick to water instead of a soft drink – and reach for some fresh fruit instead of a heavy dessert. Before you order, take a step back and listen to your body. How hungry ARE you? In all the excitement of trying new things, we sometimes order way more than we really need.
And after your meal? Try to fit in some moderate exercise. Whether it’s taking a stroll through the neighbourhood or renting a bike to get to your next destination, exercising on vacation doesn’t have to mean hitting the gym. Not only is it a great way to boost your metabolism and work through some of those excess calories – it’s also the best way to explore a new city!
Finally, don’t be too hard on yourself. If you do end up eating something not-so-healthy, enjoy every bite of it. Giving in to a special treat is no reason to feel discouraged – just see if you can add some extra fruits and veggies to your next meal, and you’ll be good to go. But with a little planning and some common-sense meal choices here and there, you can indulge where it counts and still feel great.