Beating Summer Vacation Diet Disasters
By Martin Brown
There is no more challenging time for a diet than summer vacations. Knowing this simple truth is a big step towards avoiding the high calorie traps that await all of us when we give up apples for appletinis and veggie dips for potato chips.
With life experience most of us learn that travel involves a substantial degree of planning. We consider so many factors. What hotels fit into our vacation budget? What places do we most want to visit? What do we want to do when we get there? What should we bring, and of course, what should we wear?
But as part of our advance planning, few of us give any thought to how we can stay on our diet.
If you read my columns on diet and health you know I stress that successful diets should never be detours. Simply meaning that lifestyle and dietary changes that are temporary are almost certain, 99% probability, to fail. The way to avoid this trap is to change your approach to eating. Putting your regular diet on hold for six weeks might be a successful approach to losing one dress size but it’s an invitation to a lifetime of “yo-yo” weight loss.
So if you’re committed to smart, healthy eating, here are some things you can do before your next trip. Just as you might check to see if there is a scooter rental place near where you’re staying, check online to see what your food options are. That should be for both eating out and for simple meals, like breakfast, that you may want to eat in your room or on the go, saving extra calories and dollars too.
Just about every restaurant offers menus online so it’s easy to have some idea of what your choices will be before you sit down, get comfortable, and find out that nothing on the menu, with the possible exception of a tossed house salad, is something that you want to eat.
Beyond finding restaurants and food stores that have products that meet your dietary needs, take along with you a variety of easy to pack healthy snacks. This is of course easier if you’re taking a car to your destination because you can just fill a grocery bag or two and pop it into your trunk. But the packaging of all foods gets smarter with each passing year, so you’ll find a lot of healthy snacks, protein bars, and more that are convenient for air travel as well. In general always have fruit with you that you enjoy. Apples, oranges, bananas, strawberries, blueberries and grapes in small tupperware containers make for easy carry-ons as well.
Always drink lots of water. Travel in general can be stressful to the body and staying well hydrated turns off that stress hunger switch that causes so many of us to nibble incessantly when we’re on the road.
It’s important to remember that alcohol intake always takes us off our game when we’re trying to be calorie aware. Alcohol is what dietitians describe as “non-nutritive calories.” In other words, just like soda, booze is nothing more than “empty” calories. And, of course, there’s nothing like a couple of margaritas poolside to make you forget that you were ever on a diet. If you’re looking for a simple substitute go for a club soda on the rocks with a lime. You can look like you’re partying while loosing weight at the same time.
Finally, you should not let your desire to watch your weight while on vacation take away from your fun. Knowing what you should eat, and where you want to go to eat takes most of the stress out of eating smart while away. But remember that your biggest goal is to not return home having gained weight! To that end you may find it helpful to keep a diary of what you eat in the hope that you stay on focus about your ultimate desire: to have a great time, bring home lots of wonderful memories, and leave the extra pounds behind!
His latest book is Fit in 50 Days.
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