When you go on vacation, you expect to come back with happy memories and maybe a souvenir t-shirt. Unfortunately, something less pleasant may follow you home too. That’s unwanted weight gain.
More than 60% of adults report putting on weight during vacations, according to a survey by the University of Georgia. The average increase was almost one pound.
That might not sound like much, but the effects are cumulative. Most adults fail to lose the weight, so you need to multiply that one pound by each year of your working life. It’s easy to see how that will cause trouble eventually.
While there are many temptations on vacation, there are also many ways of dealing with them. Learn how to return home just as slim as when you started.
Eating Habits to Avoid Vacation Weight Gain
- Carry snacks. Most airport food is fattening and expensive. Bring your own treats or buy nuts, yogurt, and fruit. For long flights, check the airline website to see if you can order a special meal that matches your dietary restrictions.
- Plan your meals. Research your options online, so you can make healthier choices. Maybe you’ll want to splurge on a few special dinners and spend the rest of your time at restaurants with lighter items on the menu. Check for local grocery stores, too, where you can buy supplies.
- Watch your portions. Serving sizes are huge at many restaurants. Share a dish with your travel companions. Take leftovers back to your hotel room and put them in the refrigerator for breakfast.
- Scan the buffet. How about those big trays of fried chicken and signs advertising all-you-can-eat? You’ll probably consume less if you take a full tour before making your selections. It also helps to start with a salad.
- Dine in. Prepare your own food if possible. Check into a vacation rental with a kitchen or look for hotels and motels that have microwaves and other appliances in the rooms.
- Eat early. Many studies have found that consuming most of your calories early in the day can help you lose weight. Enjoy hearty breakfasts and avoid snacking after dinner.
- Drink in moderation. Many adults drink more alcohol on vacation. A glass of wine has about 100 calories. A pina colada is closer to 600 calories and contains more sugar than a half dozen donuts. Lighten up on the cocktails and drink water to stay hydrated.
Other Strategies to Avoid Vacation Weight Gain
- Stay active. While you’re taking a break from your usual workout, find other ways to keep moving. Pick hotels with fitness centers or go for a run in a local park. Take a walking tour or do your own sightseeing on foot.
- Sleep well. Too many late nights can disrupt your hormone levels and trigger weight gain. Stick to your bedtime and wake up early as much as possible.
- Share support. If you’re traveling with family and friends, they may want to join you in trying to stay fit. Encourage each other to eat healthy and exercise.
- Weigh in. It’s natural for your weight to fluctuate by five pounds or more over the course of a week, so using the scale during a brief vacation may not be very informative. On the other hand, it’s helpful to know your weight before you leave and when you return.
- Be flexible. If you’re too strict with yourself, you might miss the chance to relax and have fun. Find the balance that works for you.
Whatever you do, keep using your vacation days. They’re essential for your mental health. With a little planning and self-awareness, you can enjoy your time off without expanding your waistline.