Whether you’re traveling over the ocean or cross country, the change in routine can instill fear into a dieter trying to stay on track. A little planning can dispel those fears and make the vacation experience—including the food—more enjoyable. Planning ahead will allow you to keep from feeling deprived and enjoy your splurges without guilt.
When traveling to a different culture, be sure to sample all the local eats you’ve read about. Consider splitting high-fat items, like pastries or other rich dishes, with a friend. When sightseeing, make it a priority to walk a lot. Running in a new place is a great way to scout what’s close to—or far from, if it’s a long run—your hotel. Many cities are very accessible on foot and you’ll burn extra calories that will make up for your little splurges.
Moderation is still the key, so remember that a once-in-a-lifetime taste doesn’t need to end up in a lifetime struggle with added pounds when you get back home. Local markets and bakeries can also offer wonderful, fresh, regional foods and you can plan to make some lighter meals between the splurges this way. When ordering off a menu, aim for grilled, steamed, broiled or baked instead of fried or heavily creamed foods.
Road trips in the car can offer their own challenges. Keep plenty of bottled water or low-calorie beverages to keep you hydrated. Often people confuse thirst for hunger, especially when sitting for long periods of time in a warm environment. Since driving in the car can reduce the amount of exercise you’re getting, try to plan stops or tours that are on foot or provide physical activity.
Packing healthy snacks like pretzels, carrot sticks, apples and other healthy items can keep you well-armed with foods and help avoid the last-minute, only available fast food stop when you’re ravishingly hungry. And if you do find yourself at a fast food restaurant, choose one of their healthier items like grilled chicken or a large garden salad.
Don’t deprive yourself of the vacation treats like ice cream or specialty foods, but try to order a smaller size or lower-fat option from the menu that may be equally appealing. You’ll probably find that the small change still hits the spot and you’ll avoid the guilt later.
Indulge yourself, but not at every meal. Most importantly, have fun!