Summer Vacation Survival Guide to Diet and Fitness

Though water is the best choice for hydration, good alternatives include coconut juice/water, adequate portions of 100% fruit juices, and unsweetened iced teas

Whoever says vacations can pack on the pounds? I beg to differ. Summer is right around the corner, and I’m sure a lot of you will be going on holiday sometime or another in the next few months. If you’re feeling apprehensive about those tempting cruise-ship buffets or can’t fathom passing up poolside umbrella drinks, I’ve got some ideas for you! Here are some strategies to maintain your weight, yet still enjoy the foods unique to where you are traveling and banish the vacation guilt.

- Walk, walk, walk! It’s the easiest exercise to do and requires zero equipment, sans a pair of walking shoes. Just map out your destination, and go! A 160-pound man, for example, can burn approximately 400 calories after two hours of leisurely walking. A 130-pound woman can walk off 330 calories in that same amount of time. If you have a wanderlust spirit and like to explore fun streets or hike for the better part of the day, this should be a breeze to achieve. Also, taking public transportation, like subways, will ensure that going up and down stairs will tone a variety of leg and bootie muscles. Extra bonus: you’re traveling greener!

- Sip wisely. Depending on the size, a poolside pina colada can cost you about 520 calories and 17 grams of fat, most of which are saturated. Other drinks that are high in calories and sugar include margaritas and of course, those yard-long frozen drinks. Though plain old water is the best choice for hydration, good alternatives to quench your thirst include unsweetened iced teas, adequate portions of 100% fruit juices (I’m a fan of watermelon), or coconut water straight from the young, green coconut fruit.  Beware of large serving sizes for fruit juices, though, as most places give more than a cup of juice, which can add up in calories if you’re not sharing with someone else.  If you’re drinking something with alcohol, limit your drinks (moderation is defined as one drink a day for women, and two drinks daily for men), and choose light beers or drinks mixed with club soda and a splash of lime. Don’t send your plans for healthy eating out the door. Remember that alcohol can impair your judgment, and you don’t want to wake up the next morning recounting those extra helpings of bar food you ate from the previous night!

- To buffet, or not to buffet? That is the question. If you’re faced with a smorgasbord of food, use the one-plate rule. Use one plate for your main course, and choose only the foods that you would like to eat. Don’t waste your calories on something you probably will push around on your plate and throw away after a few wasted bites.  Use another small plate for dessert and fill it up with fruit and a small slice of cake if you want.  Just don’t help yourself to one of each!

- For dessert, you can have your cake and eat it too! If you have a sweet tooth (ahem, yours truly), don’t just look longingly at the dessert displays. Buy the one that looks the best and is something you know you won’t get often. Share it with a loved one while sitting and enjoying the view, not while distracted and on-the-go.

- More is better, in terms of produce. Oftentimes, we blame vacations for not getting enough fruits and vegetables into our day. Aim for at least one fruit and one veggie per meal. Live like a local, and scour outdoor markets to buy fruit you can eat in your hotel room for a snack. Order some vegetarian dishes while at a restaurant with your meal to ensure everyone gets their fair share of nutrient and fiber intake.

- Plan ahead. Hunger can hit when you least expect it. If you have a mini-fridge in your hotel room, stock it up with fresh fruits and veggies, low-fat string cheese, whole-grain crackers, skim milk, lowfat yogurts, and other healthy goodies. If going out to the beach, bring a mini-cooler to stock it up with these types of foods. Chances are, you’ll be happy you have them during mid-afternoon hunger pangs!

Now get movin’, pack some sunblock, and enjoy your vacation this summer! You worked hard for it!


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6 Responses to Summer Vacation Survival Guide to Diet and Fitness

  1. Excellent strategies! We are getting ready for our summer vacation and these are precisely the tips that I need to keep in mind. Unfortunately, I’ve let my blogging and social media accounts take top priority, leaving me glued to my seat. Believe me, the ill-effects are noticeable. So, I am really looking forward to the daily hikes we have planned at national parks we’ll be visiting. As for food and drink, a tight budget will help to keep us from pigging out but I am definitely OVER buffets!

    I look forward to a fun and healthy vacation! Thanks for this great post. 8-)

  2. Phi says:

    I love this list of tips for summer trips and great timing!

  3. I’m still reading your blogs! I started a new blog, too! This time, it’s not about a ghetto beach. Check it out

    Aloha, Mike

  4. Chef Lisa says:

    Love these tips! I always thought it odd that I lose weight on vacation, but looking at this list, I can tell why…I was doing all these things, especially walking. And my favorite destinations in foreign countries are grocery stores. They’re a wonderful place to find inexpensive and flavorful gifts for folks back home, and a thrifty way to find snacks. I did have an unhappy accident once, when I bought buttermilk thinking it was regular milk in Holland…at least it was hysterical when my husband took a big gulp of it! :D

  5. nutrition to kitchen says:

    Chef Lisa, Oy, buttermilk! That’s a funny vacation story to tell for sure. Definitely, I feel more active on vacation and not surprised when I was down a couple pounds after my last visit to Tokyo (>5 hours of walking a day might do that to you!). Thanks for commenting!

    TN and Phi – have fun on your summer vacations! Get good eats!

  6. nutritioulicious says:

    Great tips!!

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