Since so many of us will be on the road at some point this month (family reunions, vacation, etc.), many people have asked me to provide useful nutrition tips for vacation/road trip travel. The funny thing is, as I write this, I am on a flight to Las Vegas for 4 days for a work conference. So, this is perfect timing.
Vacation and work travel are two different things, of course. Vacation is about changing up your routine & enjoying life outside of your normal environment. Work travel usually requires a little more focus on making better choices because it’s usually something we do more frequently.
For the purpose of this article, let’s focus on vacation, but these rules will also be helpful to you as a business traveler.
So, the question is – how can you enjoy all of the fun of traveling without putting on those dreaded vacation pounds. Well, my general philosophy is that if you are doing all the right things all year long, it really should not matter what you do on vacation. Generally, I tell my clients to make sure and enjoy themselves. That’s what vacation is all about.
However, if you are less than perfect all year long, then it may be helpful to have a couple quick tips in your back pocket for this fun time of year because if you never take that weight back off – it adds up quickly over the years.
So let’s get right to it:
1) Bring your own snacks – The more control you have over your food options, the better off you will be. So, when you hit the road, pack up some healthy snacks. The choices you have at fast food restaurants, gas stations, 7-11s, and AM/PMs are pretty limited. In fact, besides water, there is very little I would eat in any of those places. Last year, when we drove to Vegas, we brought fresh veggies & hummus, raw nuts & seeds, and fresh fruit.
2) Over-emphasize healthy choices – Restaurants are in business to sell food – not to keep you slim. They want the food to taste addictively good so you will come again. When you are traveling, you are over-exposed to food and drink that is not helping support your goals. Just do your best to go for the healthier options. Stay away from the fried, sauced-up, carb-rich meals and go for the more fresh, local options — salads, veggies and fresh fruits.
3) Stay hydrated – As with food, when traveling, we tend to drink things we normally do not drink on a day-to-day basis – maybe a fancy coffee drink from Starbucks or a poolside cocktail. (I don’t know about you, but I normally do not order a cocktail at 8 am in the morning like the guy behind me just did here on my flight). It’s these small choices that we normally do not make when we are at home that add up to a few extra pounds after vacation. If you can limit them, you’ll be better off. But at least make sure you mix in some extra water. A good rule of thumb: Drink a glass of water in between each beverage. It will help flush out your system and slow down your consumption.
4) Watch your calories – Normally, I don’t recommend counting calories for long-term weight loss, but in the case of a short-term vacation, watching your calories can be a helpful guide.
Remember, your weight is determined by the type of food you eat on a regular basis, not by what you eat or don’t eat for one week when you are on vacation. So, yes, you may gain a few pounds while traveling because you tend to eat more calories than when at home. But, your weight should bounce right back to where you were before you left for vacation once you get back to your ‘normal diet’.
Of course, if you are not happy with your pre-vacation weight to begin with, then that is a whole different story. If that is the case, call me when you get back from vacation and let’s fix that!