When you are on vacation, there is a tendency for your normal diet and exercise regime to go out the window as you relax, unwind and indulge. It is also normal to drink more alcohol, eat out in restaurants more and make less healthy choices in the name of sampling local foods or drinks.
Not only are vacation eating habits often poor, it is quite common to spend the entire vacation lying on the beach or poolside, burning off very few of the excess calories you are consuming.
For these reasons, although vacations may not be long lasting, they can leave you with unwanted excess pounds that you need to work hard to eliminate after the vacation is over. In order to avoid this excess weight gain and come back from your vacation looking even better than when you left, here are some helpful hints.
1. Choose your indulgences wisely
When holidaying away from home, particularly in a foreign country, it can be tempting to let go of all self-control and feast on local delicacies, as who knows when you will get the chance to try it again.
It is perfectly reasonable to want to try everything a place has to offer in terms of food, but if you want to avoid weight gain, you need to pick and choose when to indulge.
In order to do this, it is important to make everything that goes into your mouth the best possible quality. If you are going to consume excess calories, you are as well to make it completely worth it.
Once you have decided which are the indulgences or treats that are the most worthwhile or at the top of your list to try, indulge yourself. However, to counteract this indulgence, make sure you choose a healthier meal later in the day.
For example if the pull of the pastries in Paris is too strong to resist, have one for breakfast, from the best possible source, then try to save a few calories later on by choosing a lighter lunch option such as a salad.
2. Walk or cycle
Eating a little more than usual on vacation is fine as long as you burn off the extra calories, and sightseeing on foot or by bike is an excellent way to do this. Rather than taking tour buses or subways, set out to explore the place you are visiting by one of these two methods. You will see more, save money and burn a lot of calories without even realizing it.
3. Share meals
Vacations can often mean eating out a lot more than usual, and restaurant portion sizes are often larger than you would eat at home. Restaurants aim to satisfy your taste buds rather than watch your waist line, so meals are often a lot higher in fat and calories too.
To minimize the damage and still try all everything you would like, it can be beneficial to share a meal with someone. Splitting an entrée and a salad is a great way to save calories and cash.
4. Order smaller sizes
As with sharing meals, ordering smaller portions can be a good way to cut down on calories in restaurant meals. Order a starter as an entrée or in less formal eating situations, such as ice cream, order a kid’s size portion. This way you still get to sample what is on offer and don’t miss out on anything, and you will probably find that the smaller size is more than sufficient anyway.
See also: Control portion sizes when losing weight
5. Have alcohol free days
Vacations can often slide by in a haze of cocktails, wine and beer, but drinking a lot every day can have a huge impact on your weight if you are on vacation for more than a couple of days.
Try to have alcohol free days, or at least days when you drink less, you will feel better the next day too! To cut back on alcohol without too much impact, try separating alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic, preferable low calorie options.
Self-catering vacations are a great way to remain in control of what you are eating. In a restaurant, although you can make healthier choices, you still have no way of knowing exactly what is in a meal and usually cannot accurately say how many calories it has.
Choosing accommodation that offers the facilities to cook your own food gives you control over what you eat and how much of it, and also saves a lot of money, particularly if you have a larger family.
Remember eating in doesn’t mean missing out on local specialties. You can still buy local products and produce, such as cheese, meats and wine and prepare them at home.
See also: How to cook healthier meals
7. Choose active vacations
A great way to avoid gaining weight over your vacation, or possibly even to lose a little, is to choose an active holiday. Cycling, rock climbing, water sports, skiing or hiking are all great activities that can be combined with a vacation and have the added bonus of burning a lot more calories than lying on the beach.
Spending a day outdoors in the fresh air doing energetic activities can make a good meal, glass of wine and relaxed atmosphere even more enjoyable at the end of the day.