Dr. Kim’s 6 Tips for a Healthy Vacation

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Healthy Vacation

Written by: Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Kim Feinstein, Red Mountain Weight Loss®’s Behavioral Weight Loss Specialist

Does this sound familiar?

With summer quickly approaching, you likely have a vacation scheduled in the near future. So, you go on a diet and spend more time exercising in order to look and feel your best on your summer trip. All of your hard work pays off; you reach all of your weight loss and fitness goals, and are ready to enjoy your excursion. However, while on your vacation you ditch your healthy diet and exercise regime and indulge in high caloric foods and alcoholic beverages. You gain back all of the weight you lost (and then some). You return home feeling uncomfortable, overweight, and unable to button your pants.

If this sounds familiar, you are not alone. Yes, vacation is a time to unwind, escape reality, celebrate, and relax. However, try not to use vacation as an excuse to overeat, drink, or become physically inactive.

Here are some tips to stay on track while on vacation:

Set a realistic goal and plan

Before you arrive at your vacation destination, set a realistic weight management goal and plan for the duration of your trip. Decide at the onset how many extra calories you are going to allow yourself, either each day or for the entire trip. For example, “I plan to continue to eat as I am now but I will also factor in up to 300 extra calories per day of food and/or alcohol.” Try your best to monitor your daily caloric intake. Use your Red Mountain Weight Loss® app and Fitbit®. It will help you to prevent unwanted weight gain and stay on track while you are away! Remember it only takes 3500 extra calories to cause a one-pound weight gain.

Incorporate physical activity into your itinerary

In order to offset the increase in your caloric consumption, make sure you incorporate daily exercise and/or physical activities you enjoy. If you are going to the beach, then you are in for a workout delight. There are plenty of opportunities for exercise at the beach to include walking on the sand, running, beach volleyball, swimming in the ocean, kayaking, surfing, and so much more!

If you are not going to a beach destination, there are other ways you can incorporate physical activity into your routine. For instance, you can take a walk around the property, walk the golf course, play basketball, or go for a bicycle ride. Or, instead of taking a tour bus to visit the attractions, opt for a walking or biking tour. With so many new and wonderful sights to see, you will not even notice you are exercising. Remember, exercise (and/or physical activity) is going to be your winning ticket to preventing weight gain while on vacation.

Avoid the temptations!

Step away from the hotel room Mini-Bar! 

Don’t even open it! You know that it is only filled with high caloric snacks, candy, and beverages. Instead, request a refrigerator so you can store healthy snacks such as fruit, veggies, egg whites, turkey breast, low-fat yogurt and/or cheese, almonds, etc. Healthy options will help you manage your hunger between meals so you won’t be famished when you go out to eat.

Avoid buffet-style eating. The choices are too overwhelming and tempting and it is guaranteed that you will over consume at a buffet. You can easily eat your entire days calorie requirements at the breakfast buffet. And then there is the feeling of “I have to eat my money’s worth” which is never a good idea. Instead order from the menu where portions and choices are more reasonable.

Beware of Cruise ship eating, which is mostly buffet style or all-inclusive style eating designed to encourage over eating. Instead eat in the dining room where you can order from the menu and portions and choices are more reasonable.

Practice portion control

Even when you are on vacation, you must still practice portion control if you want to avoid weight gain. Try to enjoy small portions and eat slowly so you taste the food and feel a sense of pleasure, satisfaction, and relaxation on your vacation. Limiting portion sizes is a great way to control calories and make room for occasional treats.

Everything in moderation

Feeling deprived is not fun when you are on vacation, so indulge in moderation. This means having a few bites of your favorite main dish, or a taste of your travel companion’s dessert. Eating small amounts of your favorite foods will help you feel satisfied and less deprived.

Also, when it comes to alcohol, the calories add up very fast, particularly if you are consuming those frothy drinks that are typically served with an umbrella. So, indulge in moderation when it comes to alcoholic beverages. For instance, when ordering an alcoholic beverage, choose lower-calorie options such as light beer, champagne, wine, or spirits mixed with water or diet mixes. Additionally, to prevent weight gain, alternate alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic, zero calorie beverages, so you will reduce your overall caloric intake.

Make it special

Don’t waste vacation calories on foods you can eat any time.


Instead save your splurge for memorable local foods and specialties that will remind you of your trip and add to your special memories. If you follow these tips, it will be possible to enjoy your favorite foods and beverages while on vacation without the resulting weight gain. Remember not to use vacation as an excuse to abandon your diet and healthy lifestyle. Maintaining your weight is a realistic goal while on vacation.

Bon Voyage!


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