As summer fades away, you're hopefully reflecting on a relaxing vacation you took over the past few months. Now, think about it: Were you scared to tell your boss? How about your colleagues?
Putting off telling co-workers that you have a vacation planned is pretty common. As Karen Firestone, CEO of the investment firm Aureus Asset Management, wrote in Harvard Business Review, "As another summer comes to a close, I find myself noticing once again that my co-workers and employees have been very reluctant to both commit to a vacation and to communicate that time off to everyone else."
"Fundamentally, what’s going on there is fear," Michael Leiter, a psychology professor at Acadia University who focuses on work attitudes, previously told HuffPost. "People are afraid if they’re not present and they’re not continually churning stuff out that bad things are going to happen."
If you do plan on using your vacation days -- and you should, since studies show that taking time off helps your problem-solving skills and makes you happier -- make an effort to give your co-workers a heads up. You don't want to leave them hanging, do you?
Get Delivery (But Not That Kind)
If you cleared your fridge before you left, you're in for a little I-have-nothing-to-eat panic when you get home. "The last thing I want to do when I get back from a trip is go to the grocery store," says Jessica Crandall, RDN, spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and Wellness Center Director at Denver Wellness and Nutrition. "So I order groceries online --either while I'm still on vacation or before I leave -- and schedule the delivery for the day I get back." This also eliminates the temptation of ordering a pizza with everything or roaming the supermarket aisles while you're starving. (Research in JAMA Internal Medicine found that people who went to the store hungry bought nearly 45 percent more high-calorie foods compared to non-ravenous shoppers.)
Take a Pee Peek
Feeling like you gained weight on vacation is normal, but there's good news: You probably gained much less than you think (research suggests that on average, people gain less than a pound over the holidays, so your week away can't have been that bad), and much of it is likely water weight. "We eat out a lot more on vacation, and restaurant meals tend to be high in salt, so you retain fluid and feel bloated," Zanini says. (Restaurant meals actually pack more sodium than fast food options, according to a recent study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.) Once you're back home, staying hydrated can help your body flush out the extra fluids -- that means drinking enough water to keep your pee a light-yellow color. You'll also want to avoid overly salty foods. Crandall recommends instead high-potassium picks like melon, beans, artichokes and spinach. Here are six more foods to eat when you need to beat the bloat.
Double Down on Fiber
You probably weren't feasting on fruits and vegetables, which means your regularity took a hit. Indulging in foods you wouldn't normally eat can make your stomach temperamental, says Lori Zanini RD, spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the founder of Lori Zanini Nutrition in Manhattan Beach, California. Fiber can fix both. "You get the gut back on track and you feel better immediately," Zanini says. It'll also help you feel more satisfied after eating. Fill your post-vacation meals and snacks with high-fiber picks like beans and lentils, vegetables like broccoli and Brussels sprouts, fruits like berries and pears, and whole grains.
Sacrifice a Little Sleep in the Name of Dinner
The last thing anyone wants to do after playing catch-up on the first day back is cook a time-consuming, nutritious dinner. Enter the most wonderful of kitchen gadgets: the Crock-Pot. Do as Crandall does and set your alarm 20 minutes earlier than usual on your first full day back, throw the ingredients in and head out the door. Here's a recipe that fits the bill.
Don't Ignore Your Stomach When It's Crying Out for Food
After a week away, typical portions might look a little puny and you might be a little (or a lot) hungry. Powering through until it's time for your next meal isn't always the best approach though. "Aim to eat every 4 to 5 hours, but if you're hungry 3 hours after you finish your balanced lunch, your body is telling you that it needs energy," Zanini says. Ignoring it means you'll head into your next meal with a bigger than normal appetite, and, in her experience, be more likely to overeat.