Vacations are essential for self-care and managing work-life balance. But how do you handle the transition back to reality? Whether you take a couple weeks off or just a long weekend, it’s a challenge to find your footing again – especially with your healthy eating routine. Though a post-vacation detox sounds like the quick-and-easy fix, these dietitian-approved tips will move you in the right direction – no juice cleanses required.
Embrace an empty kitchen.
You’re not the only one whipping up random recipes to clear out your refrigerator. The smell of spoiled food is never a welcome-home sign. The only problem is, you return from vacation and automatically think, “I have nothing to eat.” Before you run to the store starving, embrace the empty fridge and pantry. This is your chance to restock with healthy items – almost like hitting the reset button. To ensure you create a balanced diet, your shopping list should include all five food groups: fruits, vegetables, dairy, protein and grains. Also, pay attention to how you organize your kitchen, as researchers from Cornell University found “that we are three times more likely to eat the first food item we see in our refrigerators than the fifth one.”
Boost your fruits & veggies.
On vacation, you likely opted for Parmesan truffle fries over steamed broccoli – and that is totally fine. Now that you’re home, though, it’s important to reincorporate a rainbow of color into your daily eating pattern. This will help boost vitamin and mineral intake, which can lead to an increase in energy. According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate, you should aim to fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables at each meal.
Eat on a schedule.
When you’re out of your routine and have full days of freedom, it’s not unusual to eat for reasons other than hunger. There could be social, physiological or emotional factors that lead to eating more frequently. That does not mean you need to punish yourself when you get home. Instead of restricting, put the emphasis on getting yourself back in tune with your body’s hunger and hydration cues. Eat when you are physically hungry and stop when you are satisfied. It may help to set an alarm on your phone to eat approximately every three to four hours. Here’s another idea to get you ahead of the curve: before you leave, try menu planning for that first week you return. You’ll be surprised how easily you can stay on track when there’s a plan in place.
Most of all, don’t let guilt or regret overshadow your vacation. You went away to reset your mind and enjoy life a little more slowly. If it helps, think of your time off as an opportunity to create a stronger, wiser and healthier version of yourself. So when reality starts to set in, you know you have the willpower – and these helpful tips – to successfully get back on track. If you still need guidance, reach out to a local registered dietitian nutritionist for a more customized plan of attack.