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If you’re a healthy eater who practices portion control, you know a vacation can put a dent in your healthy lifestyle. Whether you’re kicking back and relaxing for a week or getting to know a new city, counting calories doesn’t exactly sound appealing when you’re trying to have a great time.
So, how can you have a blast on vacation without packing on the pounds? We consulted a number of nutrition experts, and they let us know what they eat when they leave town — and, truthfully, it sounds pretty awesome.
They eat dessert!
Think nutritionists are skimping on fun foods, even on vacation? Joy Bauer, nutritionist for “The Today Show,” certainly isn’t. “I generally go out of my way to eat as healthfully as possible when I’m away from home — but I allow myself something fun and indulgent each day,” she said. “I try to make it indigenous of the area, so it’s special and memorable, like key lime pie in Florida, a piña colada when I’m in a tropical setting, or clam chowder in the northeast.”
They don’t skimp on produce.
Regardless of anything else she’s eating on vacation, Katherine Brooking, MS, RD, makes sure her diet is full of fruits of vegetables. “Even when vacationing, I don’t skimp on produce. I just buy more pre-washed, ready-to-eat options like … pre-cut fruit cups sold in most supermarkets,” she said.
They eat one big a meal a day.
Easing up on portion control on vacation isn’t a bad idea at all — just make sure every meal isn’t a huge one. “I either have a big lunch or big dinner, not both, and will snack on a granola bar or nuts,” Elisa Zied, MS, RDN, CDN, and author of Younger Next Week said. “I usually bring mixed nuts with us on vacation-cashews, pistachios, almonds, pecans.”
They try healthy new things.
Why not take advantage of being in a new place to get to know the local healthy cuisine? That’s what Susan Mitchell, Ph.D., RDN, does. “Before I go, I ask around to find out about the best restaurants, local fare, farmers markets or fun places that give me a feel for the food in the area that I’m going to,” she told HuffPost. “I always want to try local specialties. At the same time, I look for venues that give healthier options too such as salads, locally grown vegetables and fruits, or fish so that I continue to make smart choices and eat healthy and well for my body.”
They make smart alcohol choices.
It’s no secret that a vacation spent sipping sugary drinks can tack on a lot of extra calories. So Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, and author of The Flexitarian Diet says she doesn’t budge on her alcohol choice. “Instead of high-sugar topical drinks, I lean toward light beer with lime or club soda with a shot of fun-flavored vodka,” she said.
They don’t eat every meal out.
Julie Upton, MS, RD, doesn’t avoid restaurants on vacations, but she does only eat at them once a day. “Research consistently shows that the more you eat out, the harder it is to maintain a healthy weight. That means I make my own breakfast every day,” she explained. “I find starting your day out right is really important to keep your overall diet on track. I will eat a bowl of instant oatmeal with Greek yogurt and fruit or some type of whole-grain, fiber-rich cereal with soy milk and fruit or Greek yogurt with fresh fruit. I like to pick up lunches at a salad bar or piece that meal together from yogurt, cheese, hard-boiled eggs, deli meat. These are items you can pretty much find anywhere so you can avoid eating lunch out.”