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Staying healthy on summer vacation

Tips for eating healthy on vacation It’s summer vacation season — time to kick back, relax, and forget about your daily stressors!  Family trips are a great time to bond with your kids, who usually have their eyes locked on their iPhones, and your spouse, who you feel like you hardly ever see between work and chauffeuring the kids to their friends’ houses, ballet, and soccer. Yep, it’s going to be one great trip.

Kids packed?  Check. Remembered swim suits and flip-flops?  Check. Sent the dog (and his food) to your sister’s?  Check. —Wait!  What about your food?

You made that New Year’s Resolution to eat healthier, and you’ve done a great job so far. In fact, this is the most committed you’ve ever been to a resolution, and you’re feeling great about it. You don’t want to undo six months in one week!

It’s hard to maintain healthy eating habits while you’re on vacation, for many reasons:

  • No routine
  • Probably no kitchen
  • More alcohol than usual
  • Need for quick meals while sightseeing
  • Wanting to relax and not think about “regular” life
  • Having to pack everything — food, utensils, cookware, etc.

While there is absolutely some wiggle room for a few treats on vacation, there’s no need to undo all your progress. These tips will help you maintain your healthy eating habits while on vacation — with minimal stress and lots of fun!

  • Plan to prepare many of your own meals. Will you have a full kitchen, just a microwave and hotel coffee pot, or a campfire?  Plan meals around what equipment you will have.
  • Bring plenty of food that doesn’t need refrigeration for snacks and quick meals: Whole grain bread, peanut butter, dried fruit, whole grain crackers, nuts, cereal, popcorn, and snack bars (look for bars with whole grains, and not much added sugar).
  • Refuse the mini-bar key upon check-in.
  • Bring a cooler with ice for meat, dairy, and fruits and vegetables. While many fruits and vegetables don’t require refrigeration, they will not keep well in a hot car. Make sure to replenish the ice often for food safety.
  • When ordering room service, be very specific about what you want. Many will accommodate.
  • Check out local farm stands for fresh, local produce. There are even apps for your smart phone to help you locate them!
  • Make mealtime a family game. Each family member prepares a meal with the ingredients you have. See who can be the most creative, and vote on the tastiest dish on the last day.
  • Ask the hotel concierge what restaurants in the area serve healthy food.
  • Avoid buffets. But if you can’t, fill half your plate with vegetables and fruit, and take small portions of other foods. Avoid making a second trip.

Be creative!  I remember camping as a kid, and eating sandwiches for lunch in the parking lots of area attractions. Saves money, and can be healthier than eating at restaurants. I even made a healthy meatloaf on a campfire once!

What makes vacations difficult for you to eat healthy? What strategies will you use to stay on track this summer?