How to Eat Healthy on Vacation
No surprise here. Trying to keep up your healthy eating plan while travelling or on vacation appears to be nearly impossible.
Once your mindset shifts to “vacation mode,” all you want to do is pamper yourself with all the tastiest treats. You will be eating in restaurants for most meals where portion sizes are bigger and hidden calories are in everything, not to mention, you will want to try all the delicacies your travel destination has to offer.
But there’s still hope! You can have your cake and eat it too (in moderation). All you need is a little balance and a couple of compromises, and you’ll be able to easily stick to your healthy eating plan.
Book accommodation with access to a kitchen
The best way to keep your vacation healthy is to cook most of your meals yourself. That way, you know exactly what is going into your food; you can control your portions; and, more importantly, you save money. One great resource for worldwide accommodation that tends to have cooking facilities is Airbnb.
If the kitchen you’re using is fairly limited, try out these healthy dinner recipes that don’t require cooking:
Lemony Chickpea and Tuna Salad
This is a healthy, high-protein salad that requires very little preparation and no cooking. Look for chickpea and tuna cans with pull tabs in case your accommodation doesn’t have a can opener. Here’s the recipe, courtesy of Eat Yourself Skinny.
- 2 (15.5 oz) cans chickpeas, rinsed and roughly chopped
- 2 to 3 roma tomatoes, chopped
- ½ red onion, finely chopped
- 1 bunch flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
- ½ bunch mint, finely chopped
- ½ tsp. lemon zest
- 3 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 (5 oz) cans chunk-light tuna in water, drained
1. In a large bowl combine all ingredients, folding the tuna in last.
2. Serve with pita bread, crackers or enjoy it all on its own!
Hummus Veggie Wraps
Use store bought hummus to make this a quick, easy, healthy lunch. It’s filled with lots of fresh vegetables, which can be a nice change if you’ve been relying mainly on non-perishable snacks during your travels. Recipe below, courtesy of Foodie Crush.
- 1 wrap or tortilla
- ⅓ cup hummus
- 2 slices cucumber, sliced lengthwise
- Handful of fresh spinach leaves
- Sliced tomato, depending on size of the tomatoes
- ¼ of an avocado, sliced
- Fresh alfalfa or broccoli sprouts
- Fresh microgreens
- Basil leaves if desired
1. Spread the hummus on the bottom ⅓ of the wrap, about ½ inch from the bottom edge but spreading out the the side edges. Layer the cucumber, spinach leaves, tomato slices, avocado slices, sprouts, microgreens and basil.
2. Fold the wrap tightly, as you would a burrito, tucking in all of the veggies with the first roll then rolling firmly to the end. Cut in half and enjoy.
Pack your own healthy snacks from home
If you’re concerned about getting hungry between meals, pack up some of your favourite, non-perishable snacks to take with you. This will help you avoid the temptation of an ice cream stand or ordering extra appetizers at the beginning of a meal because you just can’t wait.
Spicy Kale Chips
These chips are lightweight and a great alternative to a salty snack. Here’s the recipe, courtesy of Oh She Glows.
- 1/2 bunch kale leaves
- 1/2 tbs extra virgin olive oil or melted coconut oil
- 1.5 tbs nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 3/4 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/4 tsp fine grain sea salt or pink Himalayan sea salt
- 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 300F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Remove leaves from the stems of the kale and roughly tear it up into large pieces. Compost the stems (or freeze for smoothies). Wash and spin the leaves until thoroughly dry.
3. Add kale leaves into a large bowl. Massage in the oil until all the nooks and crannies are coated in oil. Now sprinkle on the spices/seasonings and toss to combine.
4. Spread out the kale onto the prepared baking sheet into a single layer, being sure not to overcrowd the kale.
5. Bake for 10 minutes, rotate the pan, and bake for another 12-15 minutes more until the kale begins to firm up. The kale will look shrunken, but this is normal. I bake for 25 mins. total in my oven.
6. Cool the kale on the sheet for 3 minutes before digging in! This really makes all the difference! Enjoy immediately as they lose their crispiness with time.
7. Repeat this process for the other half of the bunch.
Healthy 5-Ingredient Granola Bars
Store-bought granola bars can be full of sugar and surprisingly unhealthy. But if you make them at home, you can save money and control what sweeteners are used. This recipe by Minimalist Baker is easy to throw together and only requires 5 ingredients!
- 1 heaping cup packed dates, pitted
- 1/4 cup maple syrup, agave nectar, or honey
- 1/4 cup creamy salted natural peanut butter or almond butter
- 1 cup roasted unsalted almonds, loosely chopped
- 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
Optional additions: chocolate chips, dried fruit, nuts, banana chips, vanilla, etc.
1. Process dates in a food processor until small bits remain (about 1 minute). It should form a “dough” like consistency.
2. Place oats, almonds and dates in a large mixing bowl – set aside.
3. Warm honey and peanut butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir and pour over oat mixture and then mix, breaking up the dates to disperse throughout.
4. Once thoroughly mixed, transfer to an 8×8-inch baking dish or other small pan lined with plastic wrap or parchment paper so they lift out easily.
5. Press down firmly until uniformly flattened – I use something flat, like a drinking glass, to press down and really pack the bars, which helps them hold together better.
6. Cover with parchment or plastic wrap, and let firm up in fridge or freezer for 15-20 minutes.
7. Remove bars from pan and chop into 10 even bars (or 9 squares). Store in an airtight container for up to a few days.
Check out the restaurant’s menu and nutrition information before you go
Choosing the healthiest option at a restaurant can be difficult in the moment. You’re trying to hold a conversation with your friends or family while also reading the menu; it’s hard not to be influenced by other people’s choice; and, when you’re desperately hungry, your eyes tend to be bigger than your stomach.
By looking at the menu online beforehand, you can make a more informed choice. You may even have access to nutritional information that isn’t readily available at the restaurant itself.
Check out MyFitnessPal for an easy, user-friendly way to track calories – they also have nutritional information in their database from most restaurant chains.
Have dessert once a day, not for every meal
When you’re in “vacation mode,” it’s easy to overindulge for every meal. The secret is to limit yourself to one indulgence once a day. If you’re planning to have an amazing dessert after dinner, focus on that, and say no to any other indulgences that day. It’s all about compromise!
Everything in moderation, including moderation
Last but not least, don’t forget that you’re on vacation and it’s okay to forget about your healthy eating plan once in awhile. Give yourself a well-deserved break and focus on returning to your plan as soon as the vacation is over.
Categories: Diet, Nutrition & Health