Food is part of the fun on vacation, but those calories really add up if you travel regularly. My family has figured out a few simple ways to eat healthy on vacation. When I follow my own advice, it really works!
Just before our Universal Orlando trip in 2017, my husband received a diagnosis and a bunch of new prescriptions he didn't want. He started making better food choices on that vacation and lost 60 pounds over the next nine months. He looks and feels so much better now and all those prescriptions are history.
Here are six simple tips to help you eat healthy on vacation.
Go grocery shopping
Book a room with a refrigerator and stock it with healthy foods you enjoy. Most grocery stores have fresh, ready-to-eat fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains for healthy and convenient breakfasts, picnic lunches and snacks.
Look up local farmer's markets and farm stands at your destination. It's a fun way to try what's local and fresh. We often find fruit and veggie varieties that we'll never see in our local grocery store.
Disneyland, LEGOLAND, the San Diego Zoo and most other parks and zoos will let you bring in sandwiches, snacks and drinks in a day pack or stroller. This is a great way to save money and eat healthier inside the parks.
Grocery delivery is available in more places than ever before. On our last trip to Disneyland, we used a free trial of Amazon Fresh for our grocery delivery. Walmart and local chains may also deliver to your hotel.
I usually love eating restaurant leftovers, but storage can be tricky when we travel. Sharing an entree is a good way to avoid overeating and leftovers, and it will save you money. Just ask your server for an extra plate. If you find that it's not enough food, you can always order an extra side, appetizer or dessert.
Sharing can also be a good way to avoid the kids' menu and introduce your children to the world beyond burgers and buttered noodles.
Beware of buffets
It's easy to consume a full-day's calories (and more) in a single buffet meal because there are too many tempting options! My advice is to avoid buffets unless it's a special occasion.
The complimentary breakfast buffet at many hotels is a different problem. These breakfasts are cheap and convenient, but they tend to be heavy on white bread and sugar. Look for eggs, whole grains and fresh fruit.
If you're having a hard time finding or sticking to healthy options at the breakfast buffet, consider buying groceries and avoid it altogether.
Pack water bottles
It's easy to consume a lot of unnecessary calories in your drinks. Water is always the best option, and I've found that when I drink my 8 glasses a day, it helps keep the munchies under control because I don't confuse dehydration for hunger.
My family uses vacuum insulated stainless steel water bottles. They keep our water cold all day and never have the funny taste or smell that cheap plastic bottles get.
My teen daughter loves her trendy pink Hydro Flask, but I prefer the EcoVessel Boulder. The wide opening and removable strainer makes it easy to add ice cubes and fruit and keep them in the bottle. I left my EcoVessel in a hot car for 5+ hours and the ice was still frozen when we returned!
Track what you eat
It's easy to underestimate those vacation calories, so using a tracking app like My Fitness Pal has helped me stick to my goals. These apps will help you figure out your target calories based on your goals and amount of exercise. It also has a huge database of foods and it's easy to use anywhere.
When you indulge, enjoy!
Good food is part of a good vacation. I love to try local cuisine and enjoy great restaurants that I can't find at home. Dessert is a can't-miss way to introduce my kids to new cultures.
When you have a special and wonderful food experience, enjoy every bite without guilt or regret, no matter how decadent it is. If you're making healthy choices most of the time, an occasional splurge won't keep you from achieving your long-term goals.