It's summer-time and the livin' is easy -- so naturally it's time to take a few precious days off and kick up your feet. Even if your schedule is crammed with BBQ's, kids' swim practices and a multitude of other events, life moves slower in the summer and most of us save up our carefully coordinated vacation time for a few glorious days out of town. Whether it be just a weekend getaway or a "bucket list" worthy adventure, summer is universally a time for traveling. AAA says over 40 million Americans got-away from home for the July Fourth weekend alone. But despite being in the thick of bathing suit season, the inevitable war-cry of "screw it! I'm on vacation!" could wreak havoc on your eating habits long after the suitcases are unpacked. I've got some great ideas for you that will ensure that sticking around town in the sticky weather isn't the only way to cure a case of the vacation induced regrets. Read up on my tips and recommendations and you'll always be prepared to have both a happy and healthy vacation!
Planes, Trains and Automobiles
If your travels are taking you far, far away from here, that's when your routine can really easily go out the window. While you're in uncharted territory, it's easy to write off bad choices as "survival," swearing to yourself there can't possibly be any other options. And quite honestly -- it's OK to give into some of your temptations. Seriously! Vacation should not be stressful, it is vacation after all! Starting off with the attitude that it's OK to indulge will actually help because you will be less inclined to defiantly say "to hell with this" 20 minutes into your trip. Start out by planning the first 24 hours. Keep your routine for as long as you can, have a great breakfast (try your hardest not to leave it up to airport-food chance) and even try to pin down the first place you'll dine in advance and have some concept of the menu, just like you would locally. From there on out, the best attitude to have is one of freedom without having a free-for-all. If you're in Boston and just HAVE to try to the chowder, try the chowder. Just try and stick to a cup instead of a heaping bread bowl. In this case, I consider alcohol to be "free" so you don't have to factor that into your day. You might be surprised that vacations don't have to be the daunting beasts they seem -- with all the activities and plans, you're probably not snacking out of boredom or mindlessly munching. Most importantly, when the party is over and you're back home, don't let "real life" be your undoing. Don't beat yourself up to get back on track immediately, but slowly work your way back to your normal routine.
Spending your valuable vacation time at a beach house might seem safer than skipping town entirely -- you stock the food, you can cook your own meals -- but that doesn't absolve you from the same "I'm on vacation" mentality. Plus, you are open to the mindless munching and snack attacks that might get overlooked on an overbooked trip. Stock your summer spot with good-for-you goodies, but be realistic -- if you're only equipped with fat-free goodies and dietary delights, it's almost a sure thing that you'll be high tailing it to the local ice creamery once that "it's vacation" mentality sneaks in. Plus, if your traveling companions are active, svelte kiddos, the snacks will be an unavoidable factor as well. Burger cookouts and visits to the local crab shack don't have to be your undoing -- let yourself have the number one thing you're craving and you'll be more likely to reel it in from there. It's a lot easier to stick to a healthy breakfast when you stock the house yourself, and you can even masquerade a little exercise as a shell-collecting excursion.
Beach day munchies can be easily maintained because you can pack up your cooler in advance. Again, make great choices but be realistic -- salads will suffer on the sand dunes so wrap your fixin's in any healthy wrap that's less than 100 calories. And plan a few day trips instead of spending every day flopped on a beach towel to get you out and about. Then you'll spend the days you do plan on just taking it easy... actually taking it easy.
- Pack healthy snacks: Yes, this may seem obvious but I am always surprised at how many people forget to do this! Being prepared with easy, healthy and tasty options always prevents you from stopping at a rest-stop, airport kiosk or store and buying something unhealthy that you'll regret later. Need help finding great travel-friendly snacks? Check out my guide.
- Scout out the area before for healthy finds: No matter where you go this summer, it is likely that there will be options in the area with many healthy and nutritious choices. Healthy eating is growing enormously in popularity and with some leg work before arriving, you'll know all of the local healthy spots before your hunger hits.
- Eat a big breakfast: Fueling up early with a big and healthy breakfast that's full of fiber can be a great way to ensure that you will be happily full and ready to take on the day. Even if you hit the breakfast buffet every day, there's bound to be a good egg option, some whole wheat toast and fresh fruit. You're at your most motivated in the morning and can control your choices more easily.
Here's to happy and healthy traveling!