How to Stick With a Healthy Meal Plan on Vacation

by Carmen Roberts, M.S., R.D., L.D.N. Health Professional, Medical Reviewer

Summer is here, and it’s time for that much-deserved summer vacation. But this can pose a challenge for those of us who are trying to stick to a healthy eating plan or are trying to lose weight. Here are some simple tips to follow that will help you to stay on track with your healthy eating goals.

Plan Ahead

Research restaurants you can go to when you arrive at your destination so that you don’t get caught settling for the first chain or fast food restaurant you come across. Vacations are a time to relax, so choose a restaurant where you can take your time and enjoy a healthy meal. Make reservations ahead of time so you don’t have to wait after traveling to your destination.

Eat In When You Can

If you are headed to the beach, pack non-perishable foods before you leave your house, so that you only have to go to the grocery store for the refrigerated items once you arrive. This will enable you to eat breakfast, lunch and some dinners at your beach house rather than being forced to eat out each day. If you are staying in a hotel, you can request a mini-fridge so you can stock it with water, fresh fruit and snacks.

Pack Travel Snacks

If you are traveling by car, pack a cooler filled with healthy snacks and drinks so that you won’t be tempted to stop for fast food or convenience food along the way. Packing breakfast items such as protein bars, yogurt, whole grain cereals and fruit will give you many breakfast and snack options once you arrive at your destination.

Stay Active

Make sure to save room in your suitcase for exercise clothes There is no excuse for not having time to exercise while you are away. Take a break from your gym routine and go for a jog, walk or hike to explore your destination. Try something new, like paddle boarding or kayaking. Rent bikes and go on a family ride around the town. Most research shows that while we tend to consume more calories while on vacation, we can easily counteract that by burning more calories throughout the day.

Don’t Drink Your Calories

Save those extra calories to indulge in a nice meal at your favorite destination restaurant. Drink water or other non-caloric beverages throughout the day. Drink alcohol in moderation; beware of sweet drinks that contain excessive calories (one margarita can be over 500 calories!). Opt for a light beer or glass of red wine instead when dining out.

Stay Hydrated

Even if you don’t feel like you are sweating, you lose more water from your body through perspiration while outdoors. Your body requires more water to help you stay cool in the summertime. Pack a water bottle when you travel and drink water throughout the day to help your body stay hydrated. Proper hydration also helps your body’s metabolism to run more efficiently.

The Bottom Line

Vacations are a time to relax and take a break from your everyday routine. Enjoy time with friends and family. Following these simple tips will help you to stick to a healthy meal plan without ruining all of the hard work you’ve done while at home.

Carmen Roberts, M.S., R.D., L.D.N.
Meet Our Writer
Carmen Roberts, M.S., R.D., L.D.N.

Carmen is a Registered Dietitian. In addition to writing for HealthCentral, she has spent her career working at Johns Hopkins and is also an adjunct faculty instructor for Excelsior College. Carmen has over 20 years of experience in nutritional counseling, education, writing, and program management and is a certified specialist in adult weight management. She enjoys educating her students and clients about how nutrition affects the body and its role in overall health and wellness.