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6 Ways To Eat Better On Vacation

For most of us, vacations are a time to unplug, recharge and experience fun new things. We plan for them, look forward to them, and count down the days until there here. And the truth is most of the women I coach also feel some anxiety, worry and fear around vacation time too.

And after years of yo-yo dieting, it's no wonder. All the food rules, unrealistic body expectations and guilt and shame around enjoying ourselves has created a complicated relationship with food and our bodies.

Instead of enjoying your meal and fun foods, you find yourself with anxiety and fear around making "good" choices. Rather than focusing on making the best choices for you, your body and your goals, realizing that you can enjoy fun AND nourish your body too, you worry about losing all the progress you've made with one "bad" meal, skipped workout or extra cocktail by the beach. And rather than be present in the moment, making memories and enjoying yourself, you dread having to come home and start all over again.

The truth is vacations are more than a free-for-all escape from your usual healthy habit routines. Vacations and time away are important for your mental health, which impacts your physical health too. And when you learn how to embrace a healthier food balance, focus on what really matters (hint: it's not ridiculous food rules) you're able to enjoy yourself knowing the wheels won't fall off simply because you're out of town.

How can you use your vacation time as an opportunity to be present, have fun and honor your eat better goals too?

Here are six quick tips to help you eat better on vacation, without missing out!

5 Ways To Indulge On Vacation, without sabotaging your weight loss

Tip 1: Remember The Basics.

Just like when you're at home, planning is key. And that includes planning for FUN! Give yourself the freedom to enjoy foods you may not otherwise have access to when you're at home, to move your body in different ways than your typical structured workouts, and to enjoy quality down time to recharge your batteries. Having a plan (even a loose one) will help you act with intention, practice healthy balance, and remind you how you want to FEEL.

Prioritizing healthy hydration, getting adequate sleep and leaning into foods that help you feel and function your best are going to make it easier for you to have fun and show up as the best version of you. Whether you're at home, at the office, or on a sandy beach with waves lapping in the background.

For most of us, vacations are about the total experience: new adventures, time with loved ones, fun experiences, invigorating sights, smells and flavors, and rejuvenating your mind, body and spirit. PLAN for the adventures and experience, to enjoy time with people you care about, to enjoy fun new foods and to soak it all in - guilt and shame free!

Tip 2: Skip The Ordinary.

Do you normally eat pizza for lunch every day and end every night with ice cream when you're at home? For most of us, there's nothing super special about the pizza and ice cream you can get at any old grocery store or drive-thru. But when you're in Europe, that pizza and gelato is going to be a whole different experience.

So often we're tempted by all the "free" foods sitting in the mini bar or tempted by the spread at the breakfast buffet, when it's really not all that special or different than what you might find at home. Skip the ordinary and go for the extraordinary!

My favorite pro tip is to ask yourself one of these 2 questions:

  1. How do I want to FEEL in 2 hours (or 2 weeks)?

  2. Will this matter in 2 hours (or 2 weeks)?

There is no right or wrong answer: the key is to make the best in the moment choices for YOU! Are you going to feel guilt and shame or proud and happy about your choice? Do you want to feel satisfied and satiated or stuffed and sick? Is this something that's going to matter in 2 hours or in 2 weeks? These kinds of questions help you think BIG picture. They help you make informed choices and act with intention. And they help you practice the art of making a decision (without the analysis paralysis) and moving on!

pizza on the coast of Italy

Tip 3: Nourish Your Body.

Load up on fruits and vegetables and prioritize protein and fiber at most meals. Instead of trying to avoid fun foods like pasta and pizza, pair them with grilled veggies or a lovely salad. Not only will this give your body the nutrients it needs to feel and function its best, but you'll boost feelings of satisfaction and satiety at meal time too.

Take advantage of all the fresh, local and special foods where you're staying. Enjoy the flavors of those farm fresh fruits and veggies, wild caught fish or grass fed meats, and the amazing local grains. These are the fun memories of locally cultivated foods you'll cherish for a lifetime!

balanced meals

Tip 4: Get Moving.

Did you know that most people are actually MORE active when they're on vacation that's because most of us have more free time to spend than we do when we're at home. And studies show when you kick off your day with some form of movement, whether it's a walk, a bike ride or a strength training workout, you're more likely to make better choices all day long!

Some of my favorite ways to get moving on vacation are to head out for a run, walk or bike ride to explore, to bust out a quick thirty-minute strength training session in the hotel gym or pool, or pack a yoga mat for road trips to do some morning yoga or bodyweight training. When you think about it, thirty minutes is just 1/48th of your entire day... and that’s a pretty small fraction of time for the awesome mind / body benefits you’ll receive from doing it!

paddleboarding for exercise

Tip 5: Bring (or Buy) Some Eat Better Staples.

If you’re used to eating oatmeal for breakfast or having nuts as part of your afternoon snack, bring them with you. This is a super simple way to stick to your healthy habit routine by supplying foods you already know help you feel and function your best.

Single serving packets of hearty oats, a variety of unsalted nuts, protein powders and turkey jerky are some of my favorite travel staples because they're easy to take on planes, trains and automobiles and come in handy at your final destination too! And depending on where I'm traveling, I often visit a local grocery store or farmer's market to get some fresh fruit and veggies, dips like hummus, guacamole and nut butter and plenty of bottled water. That way I know I've got a few essentials to support me between meals so I won't be solely reliant on ordering in or eating out, which let's face it, is not only a money saver but can also be a time and waistline saver too.

vacation cocktails

Tip 6: Drink Smarter.

A Piña Colada, Cadillac Margarita or any other colorful drink with an umbrella sounds great – but it could be in excess of 1,000 calories! Which means, in many cases your fun beverage could actually be more calorically dense than an entire meal. Now I'm not saying don't partake in the fun, the key is to know what you’re signing up for and decide how it fits into your daily plan. Personally I love enjoying a balance of fun mocktails, flavored waters and bubbly seltzers, saving my cocktails and wine for the special moments. Not only does it save me loads of added sugars and calories, but it keeps me feeling my best too.

Did you know... a light beer, glass of wine, vodka soda or skinny version of just about any cocktail will save you up to 50% of the added sugars and calories of other beverages? And without sacrificing fun or flavor! And most bartenders know how to whip up a light or "skinny' version of just about any cocktail so don't be afraid to ask. In fact, it's how I've discovered some of my favorite fun beverages!

Bottom line: enjoy your vacation. Just like when you're at home, your food and fitness is not all-or-nothing. You can enjoy yourself, have fun and experience all the local flavors without sacrificing your goals. The simplest way to support your goals, feel good about your choices and in control around food is to take a few minutes each day to plan... I'm talking just 5 minutes! Ask yourself how you want to feel, both during and after your vacation. And remember, your plan should include a balance of nourishment, fun, and movement. Your mind and body will thank you for it.

Are you tired of starting over every Monday, hopping from diet to diet, wondering if you'll ever get it "right" so that you can lose the weight, FOR GOOD? Join me inside my FREE women’s-only Facebook community: Eat Better with Coach Mindy, where I’ll show you how to stop yo-yo dieting and find balance with food and fitness, so you can eat better, think better and feel your best!


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