How I Stick With My Diet on Holiday Vacations

Laura Lefkowitz

by | Updated: December 3rd, 2016 | Read time: 4 minutes

The holiday season is in full swing. The weather is colder, the decorations are up, holiday parties are starting and hopefully travel is somewhere in your future. For some people who watch their weight all year round, a vacation is a time to let loose and enjoy new flavors and dishes (no matter how caloric). But if you’ve just started a diet and don’t want to get derailed, or are a firm believer in “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels,” vacation weight gain doesn’t have to be a foregone conclusion.

10 Diet Tips for Holiday Travelers

It will take a little hard work and sacrifice, but you can avoid that dreaded post-trip scale shocker if you follow these tips while traveling:

Plan ahead
A little preparation goes a long way when eating away from home. Before your trip, call the hotel concierge or folks you’ll be staying with and ask them to stock up on things you’ll need once you arrive. Many hotels are happy to provide a refrigerator and even stock it with simple items like yogurt, fruit or veggies for a fee. You might even request that they remove everything from the minibar except for water (no need to be tempted by overpriced junk food!).  If you’re staying with friends or family, ask if they’d mind picking up some grocery items for you and offer compensation.

Pack healthy options
Whether you’re traveling by plane, train or automobile, pack enough clean, diet-friendly snacks and meals to get you to your destination. Besides helping to keep you nourished and satisfied, eating well will keep your blood sugar under control and make travel less stressful overall.

Do not kid yourself that you’ll pick up a limp, packaged salad with dry chicken breast at the airport instead of a hot Auntie Anne’s pretzel, or that you’ll pass on the French fries when stopping at a drive through on the road. If you’re flying, bring along snacks like kale chips, parsnip chips and roasted chickpeas. If you’re traveling via car or train, pack a cooler with bottles of coconut water and healthy snacks like turkey jerky, hummus, whole grain crackers and nut butter packets.

Stay hydrated
Are you hungry, or thirsty? The brain can confuse dehydration for hunger, triggering you to eat when what you really need is a drink of water. Remember to constantly hydrate to keep false hunger at bay.

Eat according to the native locale
Once you reach your destination, eat according to the locale. If you travel to the Caribbean, eat fresh fish, fruits and vegetables, not pizza and nachos. If you are going to Italy, have pasta and seafood, not burgers and French fries. Local fare will most likely be fresh, full of flavor and a joy to eat.

Get Moving
No matter where you’re going, try to take walks, find an exercise class or swim every day. You might not lose any weight, but staying active burns calories, helps control your blood sugar levels, improves your mood and keeps you focused on your goals of trying not to gain weight on vacation.

Avoid buffets as much a possible
With platters of temptations at every turn, buffets can be a dieter’s worst nightmare. If your trip involves a cruise, try to skip the buffets and dine at the ship’s sit-down restaurants, instead. But what about breakfast, you ask? Keep early-morning meals light, and in your room if possible, on most days, but on the last day of your trip, enjoy the buffet as a treat.

Don’t deprive yourself of desserts
I try to follow a three-bite rule on trips where dessert is regularly served after dinner. Three bites are just enough to enjoy the taste of a sweet temptation and makes you feel less deprived (which can lead to splurging later). Share the sweet with someone for fun (and to avoid wasting food!).

Limit alcohol
Alcohol is sugar. It destabilizes your blood sugar levels, impairs your judgment and can lead to overeating, especially if you’re recovering from drinking too much alcohol. Try to limit alcoholic beverages as much as possible. And stay away from them entirely while journeying to or from your destination to avoid becoming dehydrated and making unhealthy decisions.

Plan for the journey home
Near the end of your trip, ask the hotel staff if they can pack you a meal for your flight or ride home. If you’re near a grocery store, stop in and stock up on healthy snacks and meals to take with you.

Get back on track
The first thing I like to do after a trip is something healthy for myself, like go for a run, take a spin class or visit the grocery store to restock the refrigerator with nutritious foods. If a fresh food delivery service is available in your area, schedule a shipment for the day you return. No matter what happened on your vacation, recommit to getting back to clean living right away. Don’t put it off for another few days! If you jump right back in, you’ll rebound much quicker than if you wait.