10 ways to prevent weight gain on vacation

Many people gain between 2-7 lbs while on vacation, according to a recent article discussed by Cleveland Clinic. The weight gain is not the only worrisome thing, it’s also the habits that are formed in a short period of time.  The study showed that one week is long enough for most people to give up on exercise, succumb to unhealthy eating patterns, and to fall into unhealthy patterns.  In the study, these habits and weight gain persisted for many months after the vacation was over.  Don’t let this be YOU!!

My family and I are visiting Australia for a month.  A month is a long time to practice bad habits.  I am working hard daily to keep my family on track so we don’t succumb to a full summer of weight gain and poor health.

Here are 10 tips to keep you on track:

1. Remember to pack fruits and veggies.

Problem: While on Holiday, most people give themselves permission to indulge in various unhealthy foods. Before anyone realizes, fries become the standard vegetable at lunch and dinner, ice cream becomes a daily ritual, and mindless snacking permeates beach time.
Solution: always have washed and cut up fruits and veggies in your cooler for snacking. Fill your belly up with fruits and veggies and then there will be less room for the junk snacks. At restaurants eat a salad or cooked veggies first before the rest of the meal. Get salads with dressing on the side, always. Substitute fruit cups for fries every other night. I always pack apples and bananas on day excursions.


How your stomach fills up

2. Cook at the apartment or rental home 2 of the 3 meals a day. 

Problem: eating out leads to bigger portions, more fried foods, more dessert, more calories, more fat, salt, and sugar.

Solution: go to the local grocery store and stock your apartment or rental home with eggs, fruits, veggies, nitrite free bacon, nitrite free cold cuts, cheese, lettuce, PB, Jelly, oatmeal, etc. Cook a healthy breakfast with protein, complex carbs, and fruits to keep everyone full for the morning. Make sandwiches for lunch. Go out for dinner. Or use some of these 11 Healthy Snack Ideas that we generally use on vacation to create any meal you wish.

Our Refrigerator after grocery shopping in Port Douglas, Australia

3. Don’t underestimate the frozen casserole 

Problem: lots of people hate to cook on vacation.  I am one of them.

Solution: if you are traveling locally, prepare one or two casserole dishes ahead of time and freeze. Defrost at your destination. This works great for our beach trips. Here are two recipes

Baked Ziti Recipe

Breakfast Casserole:

  • 12 eggs
  • 16 oz full fat ricotta
  • 1lb pork sausage cooked and crumbled
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 red pepper diced
  • Mix all ingredients
  • Freeze, defrost and cook at destination – 350 degrees 30 min

4. Watch the drink calories.  

Problem: It’s easy for kids to indulge endlessly in Sodas, Gatorade, juices, milk shakes, etc. For adults the daily alcoholic beverages can add inches to the waist – beer, margaritas, coladas, daiquiris are high in calories and sugar.

Solution: have lots of water available at all times. Reserve sugary drinks to once daily.  Who wants hyper kids for one week straight, or a month?? Adults should limit their drinks to 2 a day for a number of reasons, not just calories.  We carry refillable water bottles everywhere we go.

5. Move

Problem: for most people a week of vacation means a week of parking it in a chair at the beach or mountains and doing nothing.

Solution: go for a walk on the beach every day – 30 min. Rent or bring bikes and go for family bike rides every evening.  We went on a family sightseeing bike ride through Sydney, Australia.  While marveling at amazing views, we all got a workout and no one noticed.  Riding your bike to and from dinner is a great way to relax at the end of the day. Go hiking, kayaking, paddle boarding, running, surfing, or exploring. Every day do something for 30 min. Here is the link to our latest Beach Partner Workout

6. Protein should be part of all snacks and meals.

Problem: cereal, crackers, pretzels, chips, toast, bagels, have a high glycemic index which means these foods cause your blood sugar to spike. When blood sugar spikes quickly, your body makes lots of insulin. With lots of insulin comes a precipitous sugar drop which leads to constant cravings and requests for snacks.

Solution: Pay attention to the food your are eating at breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.  Oatmeal breakfast (not the instant kind), eggs, bacon, PBJ, toast with nut butter, etc will keep blood sugar from spiking and cravings from crashing through your beach read. Packed snacks should include nuts, pistachios, cheese sticks, nut butter dip, rolled up nitrite free cold cuts, hummus.

Breakfast before hitting the slopes last winter.

7. Be mindful of boredom

Problem: we all get hungry when bored.

Solution: establish meal and snack times. Don’t let the “kitchen” be open endlessly. Sounds strange? It will save your ears a lot of whining when you set expectations at the start of the day.  This also teaches my kids how to eat properly when food is available to avoid hunger until the next time the Kitchen is open for business.

8. Be mindful of thirst

Problem: endless caffeinated and sugary beverages and alcohol make you pee a lot and these types of drinks are dehydrating. Hanging out in the hot weather is dehydrating. The body sends hunger signals when it is in need of water.

Solution: Drinking 8oz of water dilates the stomach and sends a signal to the brain that eating is in process. Always have fresh cold water available. If water is too boring, add slices of lemons, oranges, cucumbers, mint. Have wedges of watermelon or oranges ready for those who hate water. These fruits are very high in water.  I not only carry water at all times but I also remind all to drink water regularly.  There is also an app my daughter downloaded on her phone call iHydrate and her phone and Apple Watch remind her to take precious sips.

9. Be weary of portion sizes at restaurants 

Problem: not only do we feel we should indulge ourselves constantly while on vacation, but we feel the need to finish the whole plate to get our money’s worth.

Solution: order the entree and have half of it wrapped up to go before it comes to the table.  With this technique you can clean the whole plate without worry, and there will be no cooking the next day.

10. Be weary of kids menus

Problem: parents assume that kids will only eat pizza, Mac and cheese, chicken nuggets and fries. The kids menu is the grossest thing at a restaurant.  I generally don’t even accept one at the table unless it’s filled with fun activities to keep away boredom.

Solution: use your travels to explore new places and new foods. Order and share an adult meal. Order half of an adult meal for the kids. If the food is not liked, take it home for leftovers.  My pickiest eater manages to find items on the menu that he generally shares with his older sister.

I would love more tips that have worked for other families to keep good habits in place while on vacation.

In Good Health and safe travels, Ana-Maria Temple, MD

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