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How to Navigate Vacation without Ruining your Goals

Summer is right around the corner and with that comes vacation.  Whether it’s a week-long trip or a weekend getaway, it can be daunting to think about how to manage your food during that time.  It’s very common to be stressed out thinking that you will undo all the hard work you have put in.   I have some tips and tricks that have helped my clients manage the stress of eating while on vacation and still maintaining their progress.  


First up: think protein first! Protein is the macro that most people under eat if they aren’t actively trying to get enough. So putting it front and center in your mind will help you get enough.  Protein is also more filling than carbs and fat, meaning there’s a good chance you won’t overeat the bad stuff because you will be more full from the protein.   


Headed out to eat? Restaurants or places where you don’t have control of your food can be a challenge. I recommend finding something that is high protein and make sure to eat that first. After you eat the protein, then you can move on to the other items with carbs and fats. Try to keep the portions of carbs and fat smaller than you normally would eat, since there are hidden calories/macros in foods that you don’t prepare yourself.  


Second:  drink lots of water! Drinking water helps to flush out the sodium and will help slow down how fast you eat.  As a general rule most people eat their meals in about 5 minutes.   Eating this quickly doesn’t allow the hormones that are responsible for satiety (ghrelin and leptin),  to tell your brain that you are full. This often results in overeating.   I recommend drinking water between bites of food and taking your time when eating.  


Consuming alcohol means drinking extra water.   This helps minimize the effects of alcohol on your body.   Alcohol is a diuretic and will cause you to lose body water and become dehydrated.  Even mild dehydration can cause numerous side effects from not feeling well to low athletic performance.  To counter this, I recommend  having one glass of water for every alcoholic drink you have.  This also helps control how much you drink by making your drinking intentional.  If you are paying attention to how much water you are drinking with your alcohol, chances are you won’t overindulge as much as you would otherwise.   


Third: Try to do something active everyday.  Even if it’s just a walk on the beach. Making sure you are still burning calories during the day to help counter the extra calories you may end up consuming on vacation. 


Clients ask me all the time if they should try and track their food while on vacation.   The answer varies from client to client.   You want vacation to be enjoyable and you don’t want added stress.  So if tracking is too stressful then I say don’t track, just don’t go crazy.   However if you are someone that knows they will go crazy if they don’t have some accountability, then I recommend tracking the best you can and not stressing if it’s not perfect.   There’s no right or wrong answer.   It really comes down to what is best for you.   Many times taking a break from tracking is good for you mentally and will help you be more focused and on track when you get back.  


Finally:  give yourself permission to ENJOY vacation and the things you may not normally have. Stressing about your food and nutrition the whole time won’t be an enjoyable way to spend your vacation. Remember that if for some reason it all goes wrong, we have things you can do to recover from vacation. (another blog for another time).  One week or one weekend won’t ruin the months of work you have put in.  It might take a little bit to recover from it but it won’t undo your hard work.  


Coach Meredith