Enjoy Your Vacation Without Gaining a Pound

Bring Back Fond Memories, Not Extra Weight

By Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, LD
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Expert Column

Reviewed By Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, LD

You work hard all year to earn your vacation, a coveted chance to relax and enjoy family and friends without the pressures of work. But while a vacation is a time to have fun, it shouldn't be a time to sabotage your weight-loss success.

I like to think of vacation as a time for "social weight maintenance" -- a time to splurge a little and enjoy the festivities, but without gaining weight.

  • Dine out without overdoing it. What better time than a vacation to break free from daily duties in the kitchen? The good news is that healthy food can be found on virtually every menu, from fast-food outlets to fancy, sit-down restaurants. Though most restaurants offer large portions, don't let this deter you from eating out or sticking with your plan. You can share your meal, or take home half to eat the next day (if your hotel room has a mini-fridge). Another option is to order an appetizer and salad and skip the entree.

    Since portion control is one of the most important elements of weight loss, you should stick with the portions you've become accustomed to eating while on the plan.

  • Make healthy choices. Choose foods that are simply prepared. Forget the mysterious sauces and focus on grilled, broiled, steamed, and baked versions of your favorite foods. One aim of the WebMD Weight Loss Clinic program is to help you learn to love healthier foods. You can enjoy the taste of eating right while on vacation and at home.
  • Let your eating plan be your guide. Before you leave, print out a copy of your plan for easy reference. This will help ensure you're getting all the nutrients you need while giving you a guideline to follow. Use a notebook to jot down what you eat, and you can copy it into your journal when you return home, if you wish. The very act of writing down what you eat is an excellent motivator.

  • Check out the local market. It's summertime and the living is easy, so why not check out the fabulous fresh produce available at a local market? If you are in a foreign location (or at least one foreign to you), be adventurous and try a new food. Chances are, you will discover something healthy and delicious you can add to your plan.

  • Plan ahead. If your vacation has you on an airplane or in the car for long periods, pack a little cooler with healthy goodies so you don't cave in to tempting road food. Fresh fruit; veggies; sliced cheese and whole-grain crackers or a sandwich; along with a bottle of cold water, will probably do the trick.

  • Fitness can be fun. No more excuses: You have plenty of time while on vacation to do something active each day. Pack sneakers, shorts, T-shirts, and a bathing suit, and start your day with a walk on the beach, swim in the pool, bike ride around town, or a hike into the hills. Find activities that you can share with your family while enjoying the beautiful surroundings outside. You will feel energized afterward and ready for the next vacation activity.

Though you may not choose to follow your eating plan to the letter while on vacation, keeping yourself from falling off the wagon completely will help you avoid a letdown when you get back home and get on the scale. Eating well and getting enough activity makes you feel good about yourself, so once you adopt these changes into your lifestyle, you really don't want to go back to the way you were before. It's a new attitude and a new way of life.

Have a great vacation this summer!

Originally published July 18, 2003
Medically updated Feb. 11, 2005.

©2003-2005 WebMD Inc. All rights reserved.

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