How to: Stay Healthy on Vacation Without Sacrificing Your Fun (or Food)

by  Juhie Bhatia | Oct 21, 2014
Yoga / jacobblund/istock

The last thing you want to think about on vacation is how to eat well. But overindulging while away can mean extra work to get back in shape when you return home.

The good news? There are lots of little things you can do to minimize the damage and take advantage of your destination's local fare at the same time. Registered dietician Cheryl Forberg -- who's the nutritionist for NBC’s "The Biggest Loser" and a brand nutritionist for Omni Hotels and Resorts -- offers specific tips for different types of escapes.


1. Stay active: Whether it's walking the boat's deck, taking exercise classes on board, or exploring the trails or towns when the ship docks, being active will help counter calories as well as shift your focus from all that available food.

2. Eat breakfast: Having a balanced meal in the morning sets the pace for the day, stabilizes your blood sugar levels, and boosts your energy. "Skipping meals can promote weight gain," Forberg adds.

3. Exercise self control at the buffet: Popular on cruises as well as all-inclusive resorts, buffets usually and unsurprisingly guarantee overeating. Forberg recommends using a smaller appetizer plate instead of a dinner one to avoid over-piling, then sitting with your back to the buffet so you're not constantly tempted to get more.

All Inclusive Resorts

1. Exercise more self control at the buffet: Buffets are loaded with hard-to-resist unhealthy options like mac and cheese and fried chicken. Forberg suggests taking just a spoonful of these favorites and then filling the rest of the plate with veggies, salads and lean proteins like grilled chicken and fish.

2. Don't hesitate to ask: If you don't see a healthier option on the menu, just ask. Whether it's brown rice or whole wheat bread, most chefs are happy to make substitutions, Forberg says.

Romantic Getaway

1. Share: From desserts off the buffet table to rich appetizers ordered a la carte, take the opportunity to share everything.

2. Get physical: If your partner is really into a sport or activity, be it swimming or golf, use this time to improve your own skills and be active together.

3. Pace yourself: Having more than a bottle of wine can be the equivalent of another meal -- there are about 700 calories in a bottle -- Forberg says. So drink slowly and savor the vino.

4. Get a couples massage: A treatment is not only relaxing and romantic, it also burns more calories than just lying around doing nothing.

Beach Escape

1. Load up on fresh: Whether it's fresh seafood or seasonal fruits, take advantage of being near the ocean by filling up on these healthier options.

2. Stay hydrated: Lounging in the sun can quickly dehydrate you, so it's important to load up on water. Plus, drinking a glass of water before and after a meal will also help prevent overeating, Forberg says.

3. Keep moving: Take advantage of the numerous beach activities, whether it's walking through the sand or doing some water sports like paddle boarding and windsurfing, if your hotel or resort offers them.

4. Switch up cocktails: Many beach cocktails, especially fruity ones and those with coconut milk, are swimming in sugar and calories. At beachside vacation spots, they're often oversized, too. Drink them in moderation, and trade them in for healthier options like a white wine spritzer when possible.

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