Making the most of vacations while on a weight loss journey

Summer Kessel, RDN, LDN, CSO

How many times have you been on a vacation where you let a diet or exercise journey get in the way of having a fun time? Have you ever felt like you had to choose between your diet and the experience? What if we told you that you could find a balance between your weight management goals and your vacation so that you came home relaxed, refreshed and able to positively reflect on all of the non-scale victories you’ve achieved? What if you came home on the path to continue all your healthy habits? Here are some tips that should help you enjoy your vacation without throwing your obesity treatment goals out the window! 

Plan Ahead 

Sometimes we’re great at picking a vacation location based on the attractions, room availability, or price of the flight… but why not also factor in places to eat and access to nutritious foods as part of the package? Include restaurants and meals in your itinerary by looking ahead to the menus online and getting a sense of how you can balance your days (and budget) accordingly. 

Make Maintenance the Goal

Consider if maybe it's okay for you to take a break from “weight loss mode” for the week. Remove the pressure to “be perfect” while on vacation. Instead enjoy your trip with your friends and family and focus on the memories and experience. You know you’ve built healthy habits to return to when you get home — aim for maintenance for a week or two!  

Prioritize Protein & Portion Plate the Buffets

Even on vacation, you still need adequate nutrition! And you know you still want to feel good in your body — so continue to plan your meals and snacks around lean proteins and vegetables first. Consider following the Portion Plate method to plate your foods, especially when it seems like you have unlimited options. Focus on fiber-rich foods to keep you satisfied and keep the constipation at bay. 

Stay Hydrated 

Don’t forget to pack your water bottle! It’s easy to forget to drink your usual water intake when you’re busy and having fun. Keep in mind, too, that if you’re traveling to a warm and sunny location or if you plan to be active while sightseeing, you may need more water than usual! 

Pack *your* Snacks

Think about snacks you can bring along with you that will travel well and be accessible if you end up in a hungry situation without healthy food available! Pack some protein bars, tuna salad kits, protein shakes, or pre-portioned nuts and dried fruits. 

Trust your Hunger and Fullness Cues 

Your medication tool has hopefully helped you become much more in tune with your hunger & fullness cues. So, give yourself permission to enjoy yourself and trust that your body will let you know when you’ve had enough to eat! 

Consume Alcohol Cautiously 

While you can still enjoy an occasional cocktail, please do so responsibly and mindfully. Do eat a meal before drinking. If you’ve lost a lot of weight since your last drink, you should expect your tolerance to have changed. Many people on GLP medications report less desire and enjoyment for alcohol but also report much worse hangovers! Avoid the frozen slushies and be sure to ask for zero calorie mixers — like club soda and lime or diet coke. The recommended limit is 2 drinks per occasion, so you definitely do not need the unlimited alcohol package on your cruise! 

Get Moving

Depending on the type of vacationing you enjoy, your activity level may change from your usual amount. If you know you’re going to lay on the beach all day, maybe you could check out the hotel gym in the mornings. However, if you’re going to be walking and exploring new towns, skip the gym and let your extra steps work for you! Is there an excursion you could book that would be active like a hike or snorkeling adventure? Maybe you could drop into a local yoga studio as part of your itinerary! 

Mind the Salt and Don’t Freak Out

You may be super tempted to step on the scale as soon as you get home. Please take this number with a grain of salt, pun intended. It is very unlikely that you gained a significant amount of actual weight in fat — but it is very likely that you are retaining some water and sodium from all your fun foods while away. Be patient and have faith; this will come off just as quickly as it came on! 

Get Back on Track with the Basics 

Remember we said don’t freak out? Well, when you get back home, know that you don’t need to get super restrictive with your foods or attempt any sort of crash diet. Now is not the time to experiment with fasting or a detox plan or eliminating any food groups. Now is the time to recommit to all your usually great choices — go for a walk, plan 3 balanced meals per day, prioritize protein, fill half your plate with vegetables, include high fiber carbohydrates and drink your water! 

When you join the Sequence program, you get access to comprehensive weight management, including helpful information about nutrition and exercise to help with your journey, including meetings with Registered Dietitians. See if you qualify today.

Summer Kessel, RDN, LDN, CSO

About the Author

Summer Kessel, RD, LDN, CSO is a registered dietitian nutritionist and mom of two who comes to Sequence as a member and 8+ years of experience in clinical and bariatric nutrition in Tampa, Florida. She is a champion for individualized, sustainable, realistic and evidence based nutrition and fitness interventions that improve quality of life. In addition to her professional skills, Summer has lost and maintained more than 140 lbs —of course, not without challenges— over the past 14 years, sharing her personal journey along the way to encourage and support others.

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