Enjoy your Vacation and Maintain your Healthy Lifestyle. Part One – Eating Well

Amanda Hunter

Amanda Hunter

For me, travelling is so much more than just seeing the sights. I love to live like the locals - eat and drink at their establishments, experiencing the culture of the place through the food as well as the people and the local surrounds. Travelling is all about experiencing the new and interesting delicacies that each new country has to offer.
Travelling from Australia often means that our vacations can last several weeks at a time. We travel such a significant distance to visit another country (often spending 24 hours or more in transit!) that we want to make the most of our time away. Being away from home and our typical routine for so long can mean that good habits are often forgotten and we return from vacation somewhat more rotund than we left.
 
The good news is, just because you’re away from your usual environment and not 100% in charge of all your meals doesn’t mean you can’t eat healthily or take care of yourself! This blog is a two part series with tips to help you enjoy your vacation without undoing all your hard work!
 

Tip 1 – Choose Accommodation with Cooking Facilities

This one requires a little forethought and prior trip planning but can save not only your waistline but also your budget. When travelling, we try to select accommodation with a kitchen or at least some form of basic cooking facilities. Most accommodation booking sites give an indication of the extent of kitchen equipment, so you know what you’ll be able to create. There is nothing worse than purchasing ingredients to bake something and then finding out you don’t have an oven! Yes, we have done this – whoops!
One of the first tasks after arriving somewhere is check out the local grocery store to pick up some staples. This can often be an adventure in itself (or misadventure when another language is spoken). Even better if you can find a local Farmers Market!
 
Load up on healthy foods and grab some non-perishables which can be transported from location to location if you are moving about by car. Use this as a great opportunity to purchase new and wonderful ingredients that are not available back home to make some local dishes.
 
A bonus if visiting a tropical destination – local fruits such as mango, pineapple and papaya are a delicious dessert option and great way to satisfy your sweet tooth!
 
We plan a menu for several days at a time and try to cook dishes which will last for two meals, giving us more freedom to enjoy our vacation and spending less time in the kitchen. By cooking at least one (preferably more) meals per day, you can ensure you’re getting your daily dose of vegetables. You also know what you’re putting into the dishes and you can limit the not-so-healthy additions which are often found in restaurant meals.

Tip 2 – Eat Breakfast in

As much as I enjoy the occasional café brunch back at home, I find that this particular meal is best eaten in whilst travelling. The cost of eating breakfast out can add up very quickly and it is easy to overindulge day after day.
 
Keep breakfasts simple and light. Purchase some basics from the grocery store and make porridge or overnight oats for a quick and healthy breakfast.
 
Something to keep in mind when purchasing breakfast cereals is the sugar content. I have previously purchased muesli or granola in my travels only to find an overly sugary sweet cereal that is inedible. Stick to the basics and you will be fine!
 
 

Tip 3 – Limit Eating out to Once per Day

As much as I love to enjoy the local cuisine, I try to limit my eating out and indulgences to one a day. When we do indulge, we are sure to make an event out of it and really enjoy it! If you are visiting the beach in Italy and want a gelato – go for it! Enjoy the moment that surrounds it rather than scoffing the ice cream and feeling guilty.
 
When dining out, review the menu first before committing to a restaurant. Know there are enough healthy options beforehand, so you’re not left choosing something that you feel cheated by. Think outside the box a little too and don’t be afraid to select a couple of appetisers instead of a main meal. Create your own meal that you’ll enjoy and aligns with your goals.
 
Splitting dishes with someone is a great way to prevent overeating. Portion sizes can be quite large and taking leftovers is not always an option. When travelling, we frequently select one main and a side salad or vegetables. This means we also get in that extra daily serving of veggies.

Tip 4 – Make a Packed Lunch / Have a Picnic

Just because you’re not eating at a restaurant or café doesn’t mean that you’re stuck in your accommodation. Pre-prepare a delicious and healthy lunch full of chopped up vegetables, yummy salads and sandwiches which can be enjoyed in beautiful surrounds. Nothing quite like says being on vacation than sitting in a park or on a mountaintop having a picnic! An added bonus is the good dose of Vitamin D and exercise from being outdoors.
 

Tip 5 – Plan Ahead

Having a rough plan of your day can help to keep overeating in check. If you know you’ll be indulging in a larger meal, make healthier choices around this. Try to have more balanced and lighter meals throughout the remainder of the day. Don’t skip meals! Skipping meals can leave you feeling hungrier and more prone to overindulging or making less healthy choices.
 
 

Tip 6 – Pack Snacks

Whether you’re travelling far or taking a small road-trip, ensure you bring a stash of healthy snacks. There is nothing worse when hunger strikes (even worse is when the toddler becomes hangry and irrational!) than not having quick access to healthy food options. Airport and service station options tend to be very limited and most are highly processed. So plan ahead and bring your own.
Some great snacks that we love to pack are:
  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Fresh cut vegetables with hummus
  • Trail mix (almonds, sultanas, dried cranberries, pepitas)
  • Pre-made bliss balls
  • Healthy home-made muffins
  • Healthy granola bars
Be sure to check the quarantine requirements at your destination and dispose any uneaten snacks accordingly. Some destinations such as Australia have ultra-strict quarantine restrictions which disallow fresh products, nuts etc.
 

Tip 8 – Don’t Drink all your Calories

I’m not just talking about drinking too many alcoholic beverages here either! When there are so many delicious local delicacies to enjoy, ensure you don’t have your daily fill of calories in liquid form. The best way to do this is – drink water only! Don’t fill up soft drink or other sugared beverages. If you’re travelling somewhere tropical, go for coconut water fresh from the coconut itself when you’re after something different and refreshing.
 
When it comes to alcohol, as much as I enjoy a good glass of red wine whilst travelling throughout Europe (I’m currently in Spain – the home of delicious Rioja – as a I write this!), I try to limit myself to a glass or two only. Space your drinks with water to remain hydrated and prevent yourself from consuming too many. Watch the serving sizes too! A standard pour of wine can be larger than back home and as much as 2.5 standard drinks! I also ensure I still have several alcohol-free nights too!

Tip 9 – Relax and Enjoy Yourself!

Lastly, it’s important to be open-minded whilst travelling. Some people find travelling stressful enough without worrying about being super strict on yourself when it comes to eating. Half the fun of travelling is enjoying the local foods so don’t totally restrict yourself. You can’t visit France without enjoying the cheese and baked goods; or visit Mexico without eating tacos and drinking margaritas! Balance your choices to enjoy the best of both worlds and stay on track. Eating healthily on vacation doesn’t have to be difficult. A little bit of prior planning and forethought means it can be done right.
 
At the end of the day, vacations are meant to be enjoyed. If you do have the odd overindulgence, don’t be too hard on yourself. No one is perfect. Know that your next meal is an opportunity to make a more balanced and healthier choice. Learn from it, move forward and enjoy your holiday!

Stay tuned for Part Two of this blog series where I share my tips for exercising whilst on vacation.

Amanda xx

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