How to (Somewhat) Stick to Your Diet on Vacation
Realistic tips for not going totally food crazy
Dieting on vacation seems like the world’s most annoying oxymoron, but it’s also a bummer when you get home and realize you can’t button your jeans. Luckily, there are ways to enjoy vacation and all of its spoils without totally wrecking your diet. Here are eight of them.
Don’t waste calories while traveling
As tempting as it is to grab a pre-flight Big Mac or mid road-trip spread of chips and candy, be smart about snacking en route. Since you’re probably going to be splurging once you get to your destination, don’t waste calories on bad-for-you food before you even get there. Instead, pack your own healthy snacks and start the trip off on the right foot.
Be strategic at buffets
Buffets can be minefields when it comes to derailing your diet, so they’re best approached with some forethought. Before you start mindlessly piling things on your plate, take a quick lap and decide which splurges are worth it and which aren’t. If we're talking about breakfast, load up on fruit and eggs first, and then save a little room for guilty pleasures like that fresh-from-the-oven chocolate croissant.
Don’t go crazy with cocktails
Unfortunate as it may be, festive drinks are often loaded with calories and sugar, but that doesn’t mean you have to skip them altogether. Just practice moderation: Instead of sipping piña colada after piña colada, have one and then switch to something more waistline-conscious, like a vodka soda or tequila on the rocks.
Ask for swaps
When eating at restaurants, feel free to ask your server if specific dishes can be made healthier by making simple swaps like grilled chicken instead of fried or a fruit salad instead of breakfast potatoes. Even just a couple of swaps make a difference.
Snack throughout the day
If you’re spending entire days sightseeing and being active without eating every few hours, you’re much more likely to go all out once you sit down for a meal. Try to pack or buy a few little (healthy) snacks, like mixed nuts or a protein bar, to munch on throughout the day so you aren’t ravenous--and lusting after a 72-ounce steak--by the time dinner rolls around.
Make your own food
OK, so this one only applies if you have a kitchen in your suite, condo or rented house, but it’ll be your diet’s best friend. Not only is it more cost-effective (unless you’re dealing with an all-expenses-type situation), but you have way more control over what you eat if you’re preparing it yourself. Even if it’s just a light granola for breakfast or a turkey sandwich for lunch.
Practice balance by alternating meals
You’re on vacation; you want to be able to enjoy yourself without worrying how many calories are in that lobster butter. So an easy way to go guilt-free? Alternate. For every “bad” meal you have, sneak in a healthy one next. If you go all out at breakfast (chocolate-chip pancakes, man), try to stick to something lighter for lunch to get back on track (if only momentarily).
You’ve mastered drinking your requisite water at home and work, but vacation can be a bit more difficult. You’re exploring and having fun and not toting around that everyday bottle. But it might be even more important here to keep up your water-drinking routine, what with all the aforementioned piña coladas coming your way. Sneak in sips where you can.