You can eat healthy while on vacation. It just requires a little planning and thinking ahead. But it will be worth it to return home without having gained any vacation weight.

Summer is well underway, and reunions with family and friends have finally begun. This means summer vacations at the beach, lake or campsite are being enjoyed. When you are traveling over the next few months, it may be challenging to maintain a healthy diet for yourself and your family.

When spending long-awaited time with family and friends, it can be easy to fall out of your routine when it comes to your daily diet. Fast food is an easy and convenient option while traveling, and depending on where you go, it may dictate what you eat and when you eat. So, whether you are grilling out at the beach or enjoying some rest and relaxation closer to home, here are some tips to consider to help maintain a healthy diet during these summer months.

How to Eat Healthy While on Vacation

1. Create a healthy eating plan before going on your trip.

According to the 2021 USDA article “Four Easy Ways to Eat Well in the New Year,” incorporating healthy eating habits early can help you and your family stick with healthy eating when you are away from home. Even before you start a shopping list, plan out what your meals will look like throughout your vacation. With a meal plan in place, you may be more likely to follow through with healthy meals while away from home. It can be as simple as picking two or three nutritious meals that you typically would eat at home to have on a rotation.

For example, you could grill chicken breast on kabobs for dinner one night, preparing enough to have leftovers. The next day you could use the extra grilled vegetables and chicken to make a salad or wrap. Additional meal ideas include fajitas, chicken and rice bowls, turkey burgers or spaghetti with vegetable sauce.
These meals allow you to reuse your protein of preference throughout your vacation while rotating in a variety of vegetables and spices to elevate the meal. Keeping these types of meals in your healthy eating plan rotation can minimize waste throughout your trip and create stress-free mealtime preparation.

2. Make a shopping list.

Once you have created a healthy eating plan, research the area you are visiting to identify local grocery stores to shop. If you are able to shop when you reach your destination, you won’t have to worry about keeping your food cold or hot during the trip there. Always make a grocery list before you go to the store to help limit unnecessary buying and avoid forgetting items that may require another trip to the store.

3. Prepare the meals prior to leaving.

If you are going on vacation and must prepare your meals ahead of time, consider dehydrating your foods or keeping them safe by using an insulated cooler with ice or ice packs. Also, consider how far you will be traveling and how long you will need to keep your food cold or hot to prevent food safety hazards.

4. Prepare a healthy breakfast and dinner with snacks in between.

Breakfast can be the simplest and most nutritious meal of the day. According to the 2019 article, “Healthy Eats at the Amusement Park,” by Karen Ansel for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, by preparing a healthy and hearty breakfast in the morning, you will know that you and your family are fueled and ready for whatever the day has in store.

Quick breakfast ideas may include breakfast cereal or Greek yogurt with fresh fruit. Ansel says that snacks are important to maintain your energy throughout the day. She suggests bringing snacks such as carrots, peppers, apples, granola or nuts to help curb your appetite and reduce the urge to pick up foods that may not be as healthy. Also, she recommends packing lunches for daily excursions.
If you are somewhere that does not allow outside food to be brought in, consider researching the area before you go to help maintain a healthy eating plan for you and your family. End your day with one of your planned meals to stay on track for your healthy eating routine.

5. Stay hydrated with plenty of water.

Water plays an important role in staying healthy and being adequately hydrated becomes even more important when you are enjoying time outside in hot climates. You can become dehydrated very easily when it is hot outside, so remember to keep a bottle of water close by while on vacation.

Try using reusable bottles to fill up on the go, which can save space while traveling and reduce the waste of disposable plastic bottles, advises Karen Ansel.

6. Have fun and indulge when you feel the time is right.

Vacation is about having fun and making memories with each other. Ansel writes, while creating a healthy eating plan is important, so is indulging every once in a while. Take time to have a small treat with your family and savor it together. These will be the memories everyone will remember for years to come, so make the most of it and enjoy your time together.

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