Now that a good majority of folks are vaccinated and airlines have resumed operation, much of the world is in travel mode. Whether you’re going by plane, train, or automobile, eating healthy should still be on your radar.
Vacation is a time to relax and unwind. But don’t ruin your health while you’re gone.
Watch the extras
According to a small 2016 study done by the University of Georgia, adults on vacations of 1 to 3 weeks gain an average of one pound in that time frame. Some individuals may gain more. The study suggested that extra alcohol consumed was to blame. Trips to the local ice cream parlor and large servings of fried seafood near the shore may take a toll on your waistline over time, too. 1
In addition to weight gain, increases in blood sugar or cholesterol may occur. A previous study in Taiwan found that the summer season (when people more often vacationed) was associated with elevated triglycerides, low HDL, and metabolic syndrome. 2
Dinin’ or out?
Dining out could lead to weight gain for a number of reasons. Larger portions, increased intake of higher fat entrees, or more frequent consumption of high-calorie cocktails or desserts may all pack on the pounds.
While restaurant food could easily be blamed for vacation weight gain, dining in could also be responsible. Frequent snacking, irregular meal times, increased alcohol intake, or the vacation mindset of “whatever goes” could factor into weight gain.
Tips to not ‘tip’ the scale
• Don’t shop on an empty stomach. This will keep key lime pie and large cookies out of your cart.
• Buy only what you need. When stocking your vacation house fridge, don’t go overboard. Extra food will either be eaten or thrown out.
• Put a limit on booze. Don’t drink daily and be moderate in consumption (1 drink/day for women, 2 drinks/day for men). Ask yourself- do I need another cocktail?
• Enjoy fruit for dessert. Seasonal, tropical fruit can be a real treat.
• Move more. Take advantage of a daily walk on the beach or site seeing by bike.
• Split some meals. If you want room for ice cream, eat less at lunch and dinner.
Avoiding Montezuma’s Revenge
In addition to preventing weight gain while on vacation, you’ll also want to prevent food-borne illness. According to the CDC, 48 million people get sick each year from food-borne illnesses. Fish and shellfish top the list of culprits in addition to milk, strawberries, eggs, and lunch meat.
If you’re near a coast, fish and shellfish consumption may be increased. This is great, but be smart when choosing these foods while traveling. Make sure you buy from reputable sources and that the items are cooked fully.
Here are tips to avoid foodborne illness while traveling:
• Wash your produce (and your hands) before eating.
• Store and prepare food separately. Keep raw meat away from fruits, vegetables, and other food.
• Keep hot food hot and cold food cold. Refrigerate leftovers as soon as possible and use them within 3 days.
• Buy from a reputable restaurant. Street vendors or food trucks may not have the same sanitation standards.
• Avoid raw or undercooked fish, shellfish, and other protein sources. This is a simple way to avoid tapeworm.
• When in doubt, throw it out!
Enjoy vacation- but be mindful of your health, too.
Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD
1. Science confirms: Even a one-week vacation can make you put on weight | Health - Hindustan Times
2. Chen SH, Jen IA, Chuang SY, Lin KC, Chou P. Community-based study on summer-winter differences of component of metabolic syndrome in Kinmen, Taiwan. Prev Med. 2006 Aug;43(2):129-35.
3. Foodborne Diseases | Disease or Condition of the Week | CDC
Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD, is a registered dietitian and owner of Sound Bites Nutrition in Cincinnati. She shares her clinical, culinary, and community nutrition knowledge through cooking demos, teaching, and freelance writing. Lisa is a regular contributor to Food and Health Communications and Today’s Dietitian and is the author of the Healing Gout Cookbook, Complete Thyroid Cookbook, and Heart Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook. Her line of food pun merchandise, Lettuce beet hunger, supports those suffering food insecurity in Cincinnati. For more information, visit her website: https://soundbitesnutrition.com/