There’s a big misconception out there that connects the words traveling, vacation and all-inclusive with gaining weight. One doesn’t necessarily need to equal the other, however. Here I share some mindful habits you can practice to stay healthy and maintain (or maybe even lose) weight when you’re on vacation. In fact, traveling can be an ideal time to reset your well-being clock and tune in to what your physical and mental health really needs to operate at its optimal level.
8 Mindful Tips to Stay Healthy on Vacation (and Avoid Weight Gain)
So, what steps can you take to stay healthy on vacation? Here are eight tips I practice while traveling to enjoy the vacation while also staying mindful and healthy.
Stick to Routine
It can be tempting to just let the day unfold and throw the calendar out the window when you vacation. However, having a routine that is similar to what you do at home can help you stick to healthier habits when traveling. And, if you’re taking on healthier habits while vacationing, like those mentioned in this article, it will be easier to keep those habits once you’re back in your home zip code.
Keep Your Breakfasts Simple
All you can eat buffets that open at 7 in the morning and stay open until 11 am can be tempting to sit and relax there all-day dining on the unlimited courses of baked goods and various foods from around the world. People also fall into the trap of eating “vacation food” — eggs, bacon, buttered toast and the works — instead of their usual home breakfast of cereal or oatmeal.
I encourage you to, instead of mixing so many dishes and food categories, to keep your breakfast simple. Load up on the unlimited fruit choices you have access to, for the first meal of the day. Eating fruit first thing in the morning is better for your digestive system, and gives your body a healthy start to the day ahead, making healthier choices throughout the rest of the day. Try local cuisine but watch the calorie count if you normally don’t eat such a robust first meal of the day.
Fill Up First on the Healthy
There’s validity in the way Italians eat by serving soups and salads prior to the pasta and main dishes. Fill up on the healthier, greener options first and satiate that initial emptiness of hunger. If you’ve already had a full plate of greens before the main meal, you’re less likely to go back for seconds and thirds of the denser, more caloric options.
One of the things that irks me the most when traveling to all-inclusive hotels is the amount of food waste the guests leave behind after dining. You just want to “try” that dish your neighbor has, or the idea of “well, it’s included…” sinks in and you decide each display corner is an opportunity to take another plate and fill it up.
Instead, ask yourself, when selecting food dishes, do you really need those three plates of foods to try during the buffet lunch? Probably not. Conscious consumption can keep you aware of what you really need or want to try, and what you can probably just grab a spoon of to taste instead of filling the entire plate.
Ditch the Bubbly
If you remove one thing from your diet indefinitely, I highly suggest passing on the soda. Even calorie-free alternatives are loaded with fake chemicals to make them taste “good” and leave you with a falsified feeling of being full for the moment.
Sodas and other drinks that come with those fancy little straws can be loaded with calories that can easily tally more than a full meal back at home. Opt for water with fresh fruit — seltzer if you really want some bubbles — or sip on a single good glass of wine at dinner. Just be mindful of what you’re consuming to fully enjoy it.
Accept a Healthy Balance
As I mentioned above regarding the wine, create a balance for yourself. You’re on vacation, after all! The minute you start to limit or tell yourself you “can’t have that because…” you’re setting yourself up for a dining disaster.
Instead, create a balance of what you know is a healthier choice, and enjoy minimally what it is you’re really craving. For another example, if you have fruit in the morning and pass on the margaritas midday, then enjoy that side dish of macaroni and cheese or beer with your Mexican tacos you’re craving at dinner. That’s OK! Balance is key to creating a healthy lifestyle you can stick with for the long term.
Get Moving Daily
Most hotels and resorts have gym access or fitness options available for guests. And even if they don’t, you can take a long walk on the beach, in the city parks, or — if the weather isn’t cooperating — workout in your room. If you commit to some sort of movement every day, there are plenty of options!
If you’re used to a longer workout back at home, don’t let the idea of a shorter one on vacation stop you from doing it. A 30-minute yoga practice or walk on the beach can turn into an hour-long excursion or practice. Or, a shorter workout might be just what your body needs for the day. A little something is better than nothing, after all!
Get Quality Sleep
What if you ditched the alarm clock and slept until your body naturally woke up? What would happen? This is a fantastic exercise to learn your personal sleep needs when vacationing.
I’ve discovered a few helpful tips to get better sleep when traveling: Ask for a quieter room. If possible, get the top floor. Request a room away from the kitchen area or main walkways. Try not to eat or drink too close to bedtime (at least 2-3 hours prior). Limit alcohol before going to bed. If you’re a light sleeper like me, bring earplugs, an eye mask, and a white noise machine to mask any other sound variables.
Hopefully, these mindful tips help you to stay healthy on vacation and maybe maintain your weight. If not, perhaps they encourage you to pick up some healthier habits that you can use back at home. How do you maintain your routine when traveling to stay healthy and manage your well-being? Comment below. Thanks for being a part of our Vacayou community!