Some people are okay eating healthily 80 percent of the time and enjoying what they want with the remaining 20 percent, even when they’re vacationing. Others decide that a 70:30 ratio or even a more drastic change would be better. “Say you plan to eat three meals a day for a five-day trip and you are fine with eating less-healthy 30 percent of the time,” explains Bethany Snodgrass, holistic health coach and operations manager at the Equinox Fitness Training Institute in New York City. “That means for four to five meals, or once a day, you are planning to eat whatever you want. ” But, to avoid guilt or anxiety, decide consciously in advance—even if it's simply that you'll eat whatever you want because you're on vacation—and then stick to the plan.
Pack nuts or trail mix for transit or multi-hour excursions. However, only bring an appropriate serving size, recommends Jonathan Dick, Equinox’s London-based nutrition education lead, Tier X coach, and Equinox Fitness Training Institute master instructor. “If you have one big bag, people will snack throughout the trip or activity, without any conscious thought toward portion control.”
When out at restaurants, choose a few plates to share (some vegetable-heavy and healthy, others more indulgent) depending on the number of people in your party, suggests Snodgrass. “The pleasure from food is usually experienced within the first bite or two—that’s enough to get the satisfaction of ‘I had this and it was amazing and delicious.’” The feeling of regret isn’t there, but the emotional joy of having tasted the food is. “Remember to savor, talk about, and appreciate those flavors, as those are part of the memories of traveling.”
If you choose to eat differently while vacationing, help yourself ease back into usual dietary habits at the end of your trip. What works best for you will depend on your motivations and personal preferences. “A note, an inspirational quote, a reminder in your phone, or a friend or coach to text you after the trip and remind you of your next workout or to eat something nutritionally-sound can help,” Snodgrass says. “Some people do really well with a note on the fridge when they return that says ‘Welcome home! Here’s your healthy grocery list.’”