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Your Healthy Family: Tips to eat healthy on vacation

Posted at 9:28 AM, Jul 28, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-28 09:30:27-04

Eating healthy while on vacation may seem impossible, but a dietitian said there are simple things you can do to stay on track.

One big obstacle to eating healthy while on a trip: a lot of times, we aren’t cooking our own meals.

“When we eat outside of our home, most studies show that we will eat between 35-45 percent more in terms of our portions than when we're sitting at our kitchen table. On top of that, when you go to a restaurant and you get a plate, that plate size is usually much larger — could be two to three times larger than a plate size that you're used to in your kitchen. So, it's easy to overeat because sometimes, you just can't assess accurately how much food is actually in front of you," Cleveland Clinic Dietitian Kristin Kirkpatrick said.

When going out to eat on vacation, she suggests eating things that will fill you up first — like fiber and vegetables.

To cut down on the large portion sizes, she said to ask for a to-go box right when your meal comes out, and put half of the food in that box to take back to your hotel for the next day.

Kirkpatrick also recommends modify something on the menu to make it more nutrient-dense. For example, if there’s a pasta dish with chicken and broccoli, you can request less pasta and up the chicken and broccoli.

If you’re headed to a buffet, she said to stick with smaller portions if you want to try multiple things, and really focus on only eating until you’re full.

Since vacation is a time to relax and enjoy, Kirkpatrick said it's OK to indulge.

“If having refined grains, such as white pasta, is something you really crave — then maybe allow yourself to have that one night. Actually allowing these indulgences can go a long way, because then we don't feel the need to have to go just crazy with the indulgences. We can actually factor them in," she said.

Aside from what you eat, Kirkpatrick said to make sure you stick to a regular sleep schedule and try to limit alcohol. She said getting too much or not enough sleep can make you feel more hungry, and drinking too much can lead to over-eating.