Maintaining nutrition while on vacation

Vacations introduce us to great experiences, including meals. Enjoying wonderful, decadent food is exciting on trips, so indulge in foods you love while evaluating how certain meals make you feel. Relax, enjoy yourself and avoid restricting yourself.

“A good rule of thumb is to evaluate how certain foods make you feel. If you know that fattier foods or fried foods make you feel nauseous or lose energy, draw on past experiences and apply that when on vacation,” said Courtney Ford, senior registered dietitian in the Department of Medicine – Gastroenterology and Hepatology at Baylor College of Medicine.

A selection of colorful fruits and drinks sitting on a platter overlooking a beach resort.Fueling your body and feeling good on vacation should be your top priority and can help you make good decisions, such as not snacking too much before dinner or at happy hour knowing you have a meal coming up or ordering a smaller dinner because you had a filling appetizer. However, a restrictive mindset will only encourage you to eat certain foods more, and setting boundaries may diminish your vacation experience.

“It’s still important to fuel your body and eat balanced and nutritiously, but it’s not a time to restrict or diet,” Ford said. “This is a time to enjoy vacation for yourself and to experience relaxation and fun, but that doesn’t mean binging on food you don’t typically eat and forgetting all your goals. Go off of how you feel instead of restricting yourself.”

If you look forward to eating certain foods on vacation, enjoy them. One meal or one week of meals will not derail your nutrition goals. Avoid overeating so you don’t feel overly full or sick during your trip. When drinking cocktails or mocktails, opt for the “skinny” version, such as a skinny margarita, so you eliminate added sugars, which greatly affects blood sugar. Go for the diet mixer, zero-calorie juice or zero-calorie soda because your body is already working hard to metabolize alcohol – putting sugar on top of that makes it difficult to metabolize.

“You have access to a lot of alcohol on vacation, so don’t binge. Don’t do anything unsafe, and know your limits,” she said.

Some might choose to bring snacks that are easily transportable. Ford recommends going for portable, shelf-stable and balanced snacks. To create balance, have a carb and a protein to achieve your satisfaction factor: apple sauce or pretzels for carbs and tuna pouches, beef jerky or turkey jerky for protein.

“It’s always important to advocate for yourself and ask questions. If you have an allergy or dietary restrictions, make it known. Most people are accommodating and will help,” Ford said.

By Homa Shalchi

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