Vacation season has begun and with all the excitement around it, sometimes a slight feeling of unease creeps in. I used to kind of dread vacations when my idea of being healthy was so fixated and rigid. Back in my diet days it was all about the All Or Nothing, so I'd be really 'good' (clean eating, crazy training) all year and then go all crazy on vacations. Nothing bad about loosening up a bit on vacation, the problem is it carried so much guilt, pain and panic.
As part of my healing from eating disorders and disordered eating I decided I really want to be able to enjoy my vacation and at the same time I want to come back feeling rejuvenated, not bloated, heavy, hungover and tired. My goal is to enjoy, relax and not constantly think about food, keeping in mind that going overboard isn't fun either.
So I came up with some 'strategies' that helped me stay healthy and enjoy vacation!
10 tips for staying healthy on vacation:
1. Ask yourself:
Who do I want to be when I go on a holiday and who do I want to be when I’m back? How do I want to feel? Keep this question in mind to prevent yourself from going on a ‘vacation binge state of mind’
2. Start your vacation healthy - eat before getting to the airport
Have a good, satisfying healthy meal at home so you don’t have to eat the airports fast food. Take some healthy snacks for the flight (veggies, fruits, trial mix).
3. Be careful of hotel breakfast buffet
There are so many delicious options that you end up eating everything. Decide what you’re going to eat before heading to breakfast, so you are less likely to get overwhelmed and eat everything. Go for healthy proteins (avoid excess cheese), healthy fats (like avocado, nuts, seeds) and vegetables and fruit.
For example- eggs, salmon and vegetables, natural yogurt with fruit and nuts/seeds.
Beware of fruit juices (even if natural)- fruit juice contains no fiber and is in sugar (a glass of fresh orange juice contains 6 tsp of sugar).
4. Have healthy snacks Available
Bring your own trial mix (nuts, seeds, goji berries, cacao nibs), buy seasonal fruits and vegetables in the local market, rice crackers and healthy protein bars (no additives, no preservatives and no added sugars).
5. Cook some of your meals
If you’re staying somewhere with a kitchen enjoy the special products of the place you’re visiting and make your own delicious meals. You’re more likely to eat healthy at home and you’ll know exactly what’s in it. If this doesn't sound fun to you - skip this tip!
6. Eating out
This might be counter intuitive to a many of you, but bare with me - don’t come to dinner starving. Have a little snack before dinner so you aren’t too hungry when you arrive to the restaurant. Try having a little protein and/or a healthy fat (something like- a hard boiled egg, few olives, nuts, avocado…). This way you are much more likely to make healthier choices when you order and you won’t binge on the breadbasket.
Only eat what you love. This goes for that bread basket or that dessert - if you don’t really care about it, skip it. You don't have to eat it because it's there. Choose to eat what you'd really enjoy savour every bite.
Don’t be afraid to ‘fit-out’ when you order the healthiest dish on the menu. Plus, you never know- you might inspire others to do the same.
Make sure you get in vegetables as well!
You don’t have to order dessert. If everyone else is ordering dessert you can have a cup of herbal tea, which will help your digestion. If it is a dessert you really really love, consider sharing it with someone.
Beware of drinks. A single cocktail can contain loads of sugar (and calories). Try to stick to a glass of red wine.
7. Move more
Getting exercise doesn’t just promote weight loss – it also balances the hormones that control your appetite and makes you feel happy. Try to do it first thing in the morning to set a healthy frame of mind.
8. Sleep well
If you find it hard to fall asleep in a new environment bring earplugs, eye mask and a lavender pillow spray to help you fall asleep. Getting good rest and staying on rhythm will help keep you regular and clam, and promotes weight loss.
9. Balance your treats
Every country has its ‘must have sins’ and that's just fine! On days you’ll be indulging more than usual, balance it by keeping the other foods healthy.
10. Stay regular
people experience constipation when traveling. Even when you're on vacation; aim to eat roughly the same amounts and kinds of food as you usually do to avoid constipation. Drink plenty of water.
Be okay with eating differently. Enjoying the vacation sometimes means you are going to eat things that you don’t usually eat or eat a little bit more. When you make peace with that you are less likely to go for the all or nothing mentality.
To be honest, this is not much different than how eating healthy can look like in your daily life. Because, although in your daily life you probably don't eat out as much, being healthy means - knowing yourself, listening to your body and honouring it.
Enjoy your vacation!