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Healthy Eating While On Vacation

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Vegetables On A White BackgroundVacations are a time to get away from it all, but is it a wise idea to leave your diet at home? "Vacation is a good opportunity to rejuvenate and relax and get out of your normal routines," says Mary W. Zbaracki, MPH, RD, LD, CDE, CNSC, dietitian at Aspirus St. Luke's. Being away from everyday stresses can provide a chance to start a new, improved eating habit. If you already have a healthy mode of eating, take it along for the ride. You'll feel better and have more energy to enjoy your vacation.

Plan Ahead

Mary recommends planning ahead. "Remember, it's not about willpower," she says. "It's about controlling your environment. It's easier to stick with your goals if you plan ahead." Whether it's a staycation, cabin or long-distance travel, "Consider the environment, the journey, and the destination when making food choices," says Mary., the U.S. Department of Agriculture site, recommends that half of your plate be fruits and vegetables. "This can be hard on the road," she says, "but a number of strategies can be helpful." Order extra portions of vegetables and a vegetable salad when dining out. Stop at a grocery store and purchase fresh fruit and vegetable snacks to eat while traveling. "But if you're flying, be sure to check with the Department of Homeland Security," says Mary. Their website tells what foods you can bring on a plane, and the rules for traveling with food or gifts. has a number of tips to help you eat healthily while on vacation. You can stay true to your diet choices while still having fun. "Save your calories for food, don't use them up on beverages," she says. "And when you're traveling, check out regional specialties and taste different foods and try things you don't see at home. This will help keep you satisfied."

Be Prepared

Become familiar with serving sizes which are appropriate for you. The US Department of Health and Human Services has a portion control card that you can print and have handy. "And, when it comes to snacks, consider foods in 100 or 150 calorie portions rather than eating from a whole bag with multiple servings," says Mary. (Check out Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink,PhD.) Pack a small cooler with sliced fruit, veggies, hard boiled eggs, cheese sticks, almonds and whole grain crackers for snack options. If you are looking forward to eating a rich dessert when eating at a restaurant, balance it with a steamed, grilled or broiled entree. Share a dessert, and remember it's the first bites that are the most satisfying, so smaller portions are just as enjoyable. Travel safely, and have a wonderful vacation.