Summer is such a casual time of year and easy breezy vibes can often lead to loosening up on your healthy eating habits. Besides your carefree spirit and vacation mentality, there are summery fun foods that can make you feel bloated and your clothes feel snug. Just think: Poolside cocktails, funnel cake at the carnival, a few trips to the ice cream truck, a weekly barbecue with hot dogs and hamburgers—all the foods that drain your energy, take a toll on your GI system, and that can lead to weight gain. Here are 9 tips to help you take charge of your health and prevent weight gain so you feel your best while you’re on vacation and throughout the summer.
Pack travel snacks. Rule number one is never travel without snacks! Travel is so unpredictable, and so is roadstop and airport fare. To reduce irritability from travel delays—or even from long stretches between meals—you need to snack well. Focus on whole food snacks, like nuts, roasted chickpeas, individually-packaged cheese, and portable fruits and veggies (whether fresh or dried). You can easily restock these foods when you arrive at your destination.
Obviously, a protein or granola bar is another easy travel snack, and these bars can also do double duty by serving as a light breakfast if you don’t want or have time for a leisurely breakfast at a local cafe. If you want tips for finding a healthy granola bar, be sure to read my post!
Have a healthy breakfast every day. Essentially, you want to make sure that at least one (or more) of your daily meals feels like a continuation of your regular healthy eating habits and breakfast is often the easiest way to make this happen. Plus, it gets your day off to the right start! You can usually find eggs, fruits, yogurt, nut butters, and whole grain toast or oatmeal at cafes and breakfast buffets. Or make a veggie-rich omelet.
Aim to eat veggie-rich meals twice each day. Whether this is as breakfast and dinner or lunch and dinner or any combo you choose, the veggies will do you good! Salads are always a great option, but there’s a veggie world outside of salads, too. For example, you might choose to pack your omelet with veggies or have a fruit and veggie smoothie, or you might sample some vegetable side dishes or appetizers while eating out.
Travel is often linked with constipation since the disruption to your routine throws your GI system off. Fiber-rich veggies can help keep things moving, which minimizes bloating and discomfort and helps you feel your best. By the way, big meals can also cause bloating and digestive woes, so you might want to check out my post on relieving the after-meal discomfort if you’ll be dining out a lot. Just in case!
Drink tons of water. If you’re flying or spending time in hot, humid conditions, or if you’re drinking more cocktails or wine than you might ordinarily drink, this is especially important. Plus, water is another factor in keeping your digestive system humming along, which will keep you feeling healthier on your trip.
And if you’re eating out on vacation, there’s no way to escape the sodium-rich restaurant meals, which can lead to bloating. Water will help you flush out that sodium and reduce that puffy feeling.
Skip the sweetened drinks. When the heat and humidity feel brutal, you need to stay hydrated. But water is your best option. Sweet teas, lemonade, sports drinks, and sugary cocktails are all overkill for most of us. In fact, I’ve seen some of these drinks have as many calories as a meal. The added sugar in these drinks can really get in the way of staying healthy, so try to find a replacement drink. Sparkling water and unsweetened tea are two options to try.
Be careful at barbecues. Though I’m much more concerned with the quality of food you eat instead of the calorie levels, barbecues tend to be an issue on both fronts. A typical barbecue meal can easily clock in at double the calorie levels that many people need in a day. It’s true! Plus, the cheeseburgers on white buns, ribs, potato salad, brownies, and potato chips and sour cream dip don’t qualify as healthier whole foods.
Believe me, I know it’s hard to eat completely healthfully at a barbecue, but the goal isn't perfect; it's to do the best you can! Some ideas: Have one burger or hotdog and fill up on simple, veggie-based side dishes, like corn, salad, or crudité. Deviled eggs are another healthier option that I’ve seen at multiple barbecues. If you can manage to eat your meat without a white bun or just a half bun, that's a good idea. And maybe try to stick with one small dessert instead of a small piece of each one. If you attend multiple barbecues during the season, it’s an even better reason to stay healthy-ish. And if you’re attending a barbecue locally, you might want to have a healthy signature dish to bring along!
Walk, walk, walk! It feels good and energizing to stay active, and the movement also reduces bloating and helps keep you regular. Plus, it’s usually pretty easy to squeeze in a beach walk or explore your vacation destination on foot. At least for part of the time.
Don’t think of your vacation as a free-for-all. Food can be a major part of your vacation experience, but if the vacation mentality leads you in the direction of multiple heavy meals and regular vacation treats, you’re going to feel it! I’m all for enjoying vacation fun foods, but to stay healthy and prevent weight gain, it’s a good idea to put a little thought into it and hold out for the fun foods that are most exciting to you. For example, you might want to hold out for a special ice cream flavor at a local shop instead of hitting up the ice cream truck every day. Or you might find the French fries are extra special at a local beach shack. There’s no reason to deny yourself foods you love, but staying healthy and feeling your best means prioritizing the ones that really do it for you over those that are just ok.
Revert to your routine right away. Sometimes it’s easy to let a week away slip into a summer of being a little too relaxed. Refreshing your healthy practices the moment you walk in the door from vacation will help your body settle back and prevent any weight that you may have gained from sticking around longer-term. If you spend weekends away, start fresh on Mondays. If you go to a barbecue, look at your next eating opportunity (say, breakfast in the morning) as a chance to practice the healthy behaviors and eating habits you’ve been working on. Enjoying food--even less healthful fare--is very much a part of living a joyful life, but the key is to balance out those experiences with everyday healthy practices. This helps keep your weight stable over time and helps keep you feeling better overall.
If you need a little accountability and support this summer, please get in touch! I’d love to help you develop a healthy routine that you can fall back on and I can also help you navigate your summer eating scene so you feel better throughout the season. Schedule a quick chat to learn more about my personalized approach.