It’s Summer, and you know what that means, right? Vacation! When we think of vacation we think of fun, relaxation, sun, sea, sand, exploration, and…food! Where ever you decide to vacation, food is definitely an important part of the equation. Whatever your taste buds desire – a hot slice or two of New York pizza, a big plate of chicken parmigiana over pasta, or some hearty beach-front Caribbean delights – food undoubtedly shapes your vacation experience in a big way.
What’s not to love, right? Well, I’ll tell you; with it comes the one thing we all dread post-vacation – that stubborn weight gain. This is a situation we are often reactive to, and rightfully so because no one cares to think about weight gain before or during a vacation. That is, after all, a time for an offload of any stress and anxiety. On one of my trips a little over a year ago, I decided that because I was on vacation, I was going to eat anything I desired. I had everything, from morning croissants to hash browns at brunch and cheesecake at 10 pm because there were 24 hours markets all around us. Needless to say, I had some work to do when I got home.
Having been experimenting with my body and nutrition over the past year, I decided to be more proactive this time around. I set out a plan pre-vacation of some things I could do to ensure I get the best of both worlds – healthy weight management AND all the yummy treats.
Here are the five things I did:
- Fast: I gave myself a 14-16 hour period of fasting every day. If you’re trying this for the first time, 12 hours is a good starting point. I cut calories at 8 pm every evening and had my first calorie intake at around 10-11 am the next day (just in time for a hearty brunch). Fasting prevents your body from entering fat storage mode and if practiced regularly, it helps with appetite control. It also gives your body a rest from digesting food. This is something you can begin experimenting with a month before your vacation to acclimate your body.
- Avoid fast foods: most of my meals were freshly prepared and rich in nutrients – this includes the mega plate of chicken parm I had at Carmine’s on Times Square (SO good!). Fast food is packed with high quantities of saturated and trans fats and sodium. This can lead to increased water retention and bloat. Not to mention, these foods are carb heavy and will leave you hungry again in no time. You’re probably wondering, “I still have to eat out,” right? While eating out is generally considered unhealthy (as opposed to preparing your own food), you’re on vacation and it’s inevitable. It’s all about making the right food choices at the right times of the day. You can go for the Big Mac, but probably not every day.
- Stay active: when last my husband and I were in Manhattan, we walked miles daily. New York naturally lends itself to an active vacation with all the sightseeing and ease of public transport. If you happen to be at a resort that won’t allow for much external adventures/exploration, there are tons of things you can do there, too. A morning (or afternoon) jog on the beach, a visit to the resort’s fitness center, or some swimming in the pool can all add up to staying active during your vacation.
- Hydrate and fiber-up: keep your bowels healthy and active by drinking enough water every day while on your stay. A glass of water every morning before you start consuming calories is a good way to kick things into action. If you’re going to a buffet breakfast, make sure to take advantage of the fiber in healthy doses – granola, fruits, oats, and grains. Skip the bread or other flour products if you intend to have them later on in the day (like in a burger, or as a side at the restaurant).
- Sleep: if you’re anything like us, you’d never want to sleep when on vacation. It just seems like there is too much to do. Sleep, however, affects your metabolism and how you digest food. Try to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep every night (or as many nights as possible).
Bonus Tip: If you know you plan to go wild with the calories over your vacation, try dropping a few pounds during the months prior to it. This way, you leave wiggle room for a little guiltless gain.
Below are two (very different) days of eating from my recent five-day vacation:
Submitted by: Samantha Sankar-Gooljar
Samantha Sankar-Gooljar is a food and fitness enthusiast, with a passion for educating others. She is also blogger at, ‘Feed.The.Foodie‘.
Next Saturday you can have your Say.