Nutrition Doesn’t Have to Be a Family Vacation Casualty
I spend a lot of time talking with patients about good nutrition. In fact, there’s probably nothing more important to good health than eating right. So what is a family to do at vacation time? How do families maintain good nutritional habits when they are away from home for extended periods of time that will include more restaurant meals and less regimented snacking?
First and foremost, letting go of some of your nutritional standards for 10 to 14 days is not the end of the world – especially if your family is capable of getting right back into the good nutrition routine upon your return home. Second, nutrition does not have to be a casualty of a family vacation. With a little bit of effort and planning, your family can still eat well without sacrificing your nutritional goals.
Visit the Local Grocery Store
One of the biggest temptations while on vacation is to let someone else do all the cooking. That’s quite understandable. To help maintain good nutrition, I recommend visiting the local grocery store as soon as you arrive. Pick up a healthy supply of fruits, vegetables, and nuts that do not require any cooking. Your breakfasts and lunches can consist of nutritional food that doesn’t interfere with your goal of not cooking.
Choose Buffet Style Restaurants
When possible, buffet style restaurants are your best option for restaurant meals. Almost every buffet offers a strong selection of nutritionally balanced foods that include salads, fruits and veggies, fish, soups, and so on. The buffet allows you to choose as many healthy foods as possible rather than having to settle for something off the menu.
Order Less from the Menu
When you do choose to visit a table service restaurant, take a look around before you order. If you see that the portions are more than you normally eat, you are better off sharing a single entrée between two family members. By ordering less and sharing your food, you will better control your calories even in settings that do not offer the best food choices.
Carry Your Own Snacks
The most nutritional damage done on vacation tends to be related to snacking. For example, what are most people tempted to do in the middle of the afternoon when the stomach starts rumbling? They are likely to visit the beachside café or local junk food stand to get a snack. It’s just easier to do when you’re on vacation. But if you carry healthy snacks with you, that temptation is more manageable.
The same kinds of healthy snacks you eat at home can be taken on the go. Just designate one member of the family to carry the snacks in a backpack. A few bottles of water and some homemade trail mix is a good start; you can add dried fruit pieces, crunchy vegetables like carrots and celery, and so on.
Let Yourself Go a Little
Vacation is supposed to be a time of relaxation and enjoyment. In light of that, it’s okay to let yourself go a little bit. That ice cream cone with your name written on it, for example, is not going to ruin you – enjoy it. The idea is to splurge a little rather than get so caught up in nutrition that it becomes the defining factor of your vacation.
Good nutrition is a lifestyle choice, but it should not be an all-consuming endeavor. With a little planning and preparation, you can maintain good nutritional habits on vacation and still enjoy whatever it is you are going to see and do. That’s the best way to vacation anyway.