8 Ways to Eat and Stay Healthy at an All-Inclusive Resort

by  Megan D. | Jun 19, 2013
Couple on vacation
Couple on vacation / grinvalds/iStock

All-inclusive resorts can be both a blessing and a curse – and an incredible deal. But it's easy to lose control of your eating habits when your options are unlimited, and offered at no additional cost. Why, yes, I will have another hamburger. Oh sure, throw in another daiquiri. I'm on vacation!

Suddenly you’re 10 pounds heavier by the time you get home, and your whole health routine is shot. Sound familiar?  Here are five tips to help you maintain your bikini bod at an all-inclusive resort.

1. Stick to the One-Plate Special
Just because you can eat everything doesn't mean you have to. While it's tempting to go back for plate after plate to try the salad (and the sushi, and the carving station, and dessert), try to keep it to one plate.

2. Interpret the Signs
If you’re counting calories or watching your salt intake, most hotels get it, and want to help. Healthy options abound on resort menus – even at all-inclusives. Look for menu and buffet items marked by little symbols that indicate healthy choices. You'd be surprised at how tasty fresh sea bass with a side of asparagus can be.

3. Choose Wisely at the Bar
Here’s a big one: Watch what you drink. Unlimited alcohol is one of the great lures of an all-inclusive package, but sugar is one of the major factors in weight gain. Even a single margarita or piña colada can add hundreds of extra calories to your diet  – and also give you a wicked hangover. Stick to light beers or mixed drinks, like vodka sodas, which have fewer calories. Of course, it's okay now and then to treat yourself to a fruity drink – with an umbrella in it, of course. Everything in moderation.

4. Water it Down
Drink as much water as you possibly can. Water keeps nutrients moving throughout the body, flushes out toxins, keeps you feeling full, and prevents excess snacking. Besides, if you're drinking a lot of alcohol and spending time in the sun, you're going to want to stay hydrated.

5. Get Moving...Vacation Style
It can be a challenge to get yourself on an elliptical machine if you’re spending your days on a tropical beach. Sure, all-inclusive resorts always offer a gym, but you can get your exercise in ways that don’t feel so – routine. Hop in the enormous free-form pool and do some laps; jump in the ocean and brave the waves; chase your kids or grandkids around on the beach for a few hours. Or, take advantage of the resort’s on-site activities. Most properties offer non-motorized water sports – snorkeling, kayaking, windsurfing, even scuba lessons – at no extra charge. Now that’s a better way to burn calories in paradise.

6. Focus on Produce
All-inclusive resorts, whether bargain-basement or super chic, always offer fresh produce in their buffets and on their menus. Seek it out during your stay. Fruit salads, whole fruit, green salads, and veggie sides will fill you up and give your body some serious nutrients. Plus, there are additional benefits. Vitamins and minerals found in fruits and veggies can prevent and soothe effects of a sunburn, ease hangover symptoms, and prevent illness – all important when you travel. Can’t manage to go all-veggie during your stay? Choose produce as one major component of each meal, and stick with it. It will keep you from filling up on less-healthy fare.

7. Dance the Night Away
Many Caribbean and Mexican all-inclusives are offering a new perk on their entertainment programs – dance lessons. If you’re brave enough – or you’ve hit your in-room minibar enough times – take a salsa lesson and see how you do. You’ll burn calories, get yourself moving after a day of lounging by the pool, and make friends. If lessons aren’t your thing, many resorts have on-site clubs and bars with a DJ, a dance floor, and lots of room for you to work off the day’s tamales.

8. When in Doubt, Ask
Not sure what’s in the chicken dish you’re about to have for dinner? Need a vegetarian alternative to the carnitas? Ask. Remember, you’re in a place where people are paid to cater to your needs – especially when it comes to the food. Don’t be shy about asking questions, especially where your health is concerned. Inquire with the hotel food staff about how things are prepared, and what they’re prepared with. And if you want to splurge on a beautiful dessert or an irresistible entrée, you’ll understand exactly what you’re eating.

How do you stay fit while away?

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