While traveling abroad, you may feel at times that things are out of your control. Flights may be delayed, reservations may have been cancelled, or luggage may be lost in transit. Unfortunately, this is the reality of traveling abroad. However, weight gain while traveling does not have to be a reality. You can take total control of your exercise and food choices while traveling so you return home without unwanted pounds. As you should know, being on vacation is not the time to try to lose weight, unless you’re at a health spa. Maintaining your weight while traveling is much more sensible and doable. Enjoying the wonderful food is part of the traveling experience. It may seem like it might be difficult to maintain your weight while on vacation, but mindful thinking and a little planning can put you on the right track. Follow the tips below to plan your healthy trip abroad.
- Plan on when you are going to eat meals. It may be tempting to keep buying snacks throughout the day, but if you stick to planned meal times and one or two snacks, you will not engage in mindless eating which can lead to weight gain.
- Split large portions. Ask your server how big the plates are, and don’t be afraid to share an entree with someone else or ask for half of it in a to-go box.
- Engage in some kind of physical activity on most days. Instead of taking the bus to a nearby location, walk there instead. Look for nearby walking tours or hiking trails to discover. By walking, you get to experience new places close-up while burning calories.
- Look for accommodations with a kitchen–think AirBNB. Traveling abroad doesn’t mean that every meal has to be consumed in a restaurant. Part of the fun in having a kitchen abroad is visiting farmer’s markets and buying local ingredients to create your meals. In preparing your own meals, you can choose the foods you love or would like to try, and give yourself the appropriate portions to avoid overeating. If don’t have access to a kitchen on your trip, see if you can order a mini fridge with your room to store some healthy snacks. You can also keep many breakfast foods, such as yogurt and cheese, in a small fridge.
- Pack healthy snacks. You can buy some nutritious snacks before you leave for your destination, or at local markets while you walk the city streets. Having healthy snacks on hand keeps you energized between meals as well as helps you avoid buying unhealthy snacks on impulse from street vendors.
- Drink sufficient water. Sometimes we mistake thirst for hunger and we grab a snack when really we need to hydrate. In addition, drinking water can help you feel full between meals to help you avoid snacking. Bring a durable reusable water bottle to keep with you at hand during your daily travels.
- Avoid buffets, if possible, or learn how to control yourself around them. If the breakfast buffet is too tempting, store some cereal or whole wheat bread, peanut butter and fruit in your room to help you start your morning right. If you ever find yourself at a buffet, think about appropriate portion sizes before you eat and stick to eating the amount you plan to eat.
Remember to enjoy yourself! Being smart about eating and exercise during vacation can bring the best result: enjoying new experiences abroad while not having to worry about your weight. Bon voyage!
Lisa Stollman, MA, RDN, CDE, CDN is the author of the ebook The Trim Traveler: How to Eat Healthy and Stay Fit While Traveling Abroad (Nirvana Press 2014) and The Teen Eating Manifesto (Nirvana Press 2012). She is a nationally-recognized and award-winning Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with a specialty in teen and adult weight management and diabetes. Lisa received her B.S. in Food and Nutrition and her M.A. in Clinical Nutrition from New York University. She consults with clients in Huntington, New York and on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. To find out more about Lisa or to book an appointment, please visit here. Special thanks to Anita Renwick, nutrition intern, for her wonderful contributions to this blogpost.