By Rebecca Mason, RD
You’ve been waiting all winter for spring break—a chance to escape to a warmer climate and a change of scenery. But just because you’ll be away from home doesn’t mean you have to leave your regular healthy habits behind.
Here are some tips to keep up your healthy lifestyle even while on vacation.
Stay hydrated. First and foremost, make water your drink of choice. This calorie-free beverage is essential for numerous metabolic processes and helps prevent false hunger. Bring a reusable water bottle with you on your travels and set a goal to consume your daily fluid needs each and every day of your trip. For a tropical twist and added flavor, infuse water with fresh fruit and herb combos like cucumber and mint or mango pineapple. Here are more pairing ideas.
How much water should you be drinking? A quick and basic calculation for estimating how much fluid you need is: half of your body weight (pounds) = fluid needs (ounces). So a 150 pound person would need 75 ounces of water per day.
Don’t save up your calories. Many spring breakers will “save up” their calories for the day in order to eat a huge meal later. The problem is that by skipping a meal, you’re more likely to overeat at the next. Even if you’re able to keep your calorie intake in check and resist the urge to binge during the day, eating just one meal versus three impacts metabolism.
A study published in the journal Metabolism looked at the difference in energy metabolism for participants who ate all of their daily calories in one meal versus three meals. Those who ate just one meal per day had elevated fasting glucose levels and delayed insulin response, meaning their body is not getting the fuel from food to muscles and tissues efficiently which can cause fatigue, headaches or blurred vision. Keep your energy steady by filling up on lean protein and fresh produce throughout the day.
Stay active. Chances are, if you’re on vacation, you’re eating and drinking a bit more than usual. Balance out the extra treats by making the most of your new surroundings and go explore. Take a walk, rent a bicycle, go for a swim or take a hike. Enjoy all aspects of your trip, the food, the sights and the activities. After all, going on holiday is all about balance.
Moderation is key. I am a firm believer that we have two categories of food: “everyday” foods and “sometimes” foods. “Everyday” foods are fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, lean protein and low fat dairy. These are foods you can enjoy in abundance and that nourish your body. “Sometimes” foods are treats, and while food is fun and meant to be enjoyed, these are foods you should enjoy in moderation.
Before going on a trip, create a game plan for how you will sample local favorites and enjoy special meals at new restaurants. Plan to share an indulgent entrée with a friend, institute the “one treat a day” rule or order half portions so you can enjoy your “sometimes” foods without derailing your nutrition goals.
The benefits of taking a vacation are numerous—just don’t let your vacation affect your health goals. Your body will thank you after you return home to your normal routine.
About the Author: Rebecca Mason, RD, is a registered dietitian and Health and Wellness Coordinator in the Wellness Department at Priority Health. She is passionate about helping families and individuals improve their health through nutrition education and nutritious food access. Rebecca is certified in adult weight management, and has a background in both clinical nutrition and wellness programming.