10 Effortless Tricks to Eating Healthy While on Vacation

Updated: Jul. 17, 2017

Going on vacation is a good way to unwind and enjoy yourself, but you don't want to leave feeling worse than you arrived—these simple tricks will ensure you're doing everything you can to stay healthy.

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Eat breakfast

Don’t skip breakfast, as it’s one of the easiest meals to make healthy. “There is nowhere in the world (including an airport) you can’t get a healthy breakfast—even if it is makeshift,” says Keri Glassman, MS, RD. “Even a banana and a plain Greek yogurt is better than becoming ravenous before lunch.”


Schedule meal times

Whether you’re staying at an all-inclusive resort or strolling by bakeries and cafes, it’s easy to start downing too much without realizing it. If you’re truly starving, make sure you’re carrying plenty of healthy snacks. And to avoid excess grazing, make a specific plan—including time and place—for your meals. “Many resorts make food easily accessible, and it can be easy to lose track of how much we’re eating if we pick all day long,” says Mandy Unanski Enright, MS, RDN. “Take breaks from the beach or pool to enjoy breakfast, lunch, and a snack.”


Stick to the “One Plate” rule

To avoid overeating at buffets, follow this rule of thumb, says Enright: “Make just one plate for that meal, and stick to it,” says Enright. “Go to the salad bar first and fill half the plate with fruit and veggies—these will be the most filling and nutritious part of your plate. Stick to a palm-size worth of protein, and the remaining quarter of the plate can have a starch of choice such as bread, potatoes, or whole grains.” Here are 10 more tricks to dodge the overeating trap.


Go to the market

Don’t feel like you have to eat every meal out somewhere. “Stock up at a local grocery store or market on some items to keep available for quick breakfasts and lunch,” says Enright. Just keep in mind the tricks grocers pull, and you’ll be better off there. “If you’re lucky to have a room with a fridge, even more opportunity to keep items on hand.” Buy things like fresh fruit from the farmer’s market, yogurt, granola, etc., which are small, easy to eat, and inexpensive.


Prepare your own meals

“Some hotels have grills for guest use, or perhaps you’re staying in a room with a kitchenette,” says Enright. “This is a great way to experience fresh local seafood, vegetables, or meats by purchasing and preparing them yourself for a low-key night. Again, the more control you can have over your meals the less extra calories or excess portions you will consume.”


Indulge on purpose

You’re going on vacation to enjoy yourself, so there are going to be times when you want to eat indulgent foods and treats. “Consciously make the decision to indulge in something of choice—your favorite thing, rather than everything,” says Glassman. “Don’t hold out only to find yourself binging all at once.” Savor each bite so your few indulgences feel special, or follow some other mindful eating tips.


Keep a water bottle with you

“Keep a refillable water bottle handy that you can carry with you,” says Enright. “This can help satisfy cravings if food is readily available and tempting you.” Dehydration can mask as hunger, so beware. “And if you’re planning to enjoy some cocktails by the beach or pool, make sure you hydrate in between. Adding some fresh fruit to the water can also provide refreshment, nutrients, and a little snack once the water is done.” Here some other clever ways to stay hydrated this summer.

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Fill up on veggies

Eat as many vegetables as possible to help you stay full, even if it means ordering a side. “The fiber and water volume will help fill you and keep you from diving into the bread basket, again,” says Glassman. Swap out vegetables for fries—or order a side salad. Or you could opt for these other filling fruits and vegetables.


Plan in advance

Know where you are going and what is nearby, so you can choose a place to eat that’s most suited to your needs rather than walking into the nearest restaurant. “By preparing for the situation, you can try to make the best choices available to you, as well as know if you should bring your own healthy snacks for the in-between meal times,” says K. Autumn Ehsaei, MS, RDN, LDN.


Share meals

When you want to try something unhealthy, split it with someone else. “Share meals to truly experience all the local cuisine,” says Enright. You’ll still get to enjoy being on vacation, but you won’t feel obligated to finish everything on your plate. Make sure to brush up on your restaurant etiquette to avoid embarrassing situations.