Do you gain weight on vacation?

For the most part, I’m a healthful guy. I try to eat well and I get a fair amount of exercise walking around the streets of New York City.

But when I go on vacation, even I pack a pair of elastic waistband pants. Because hey, it’s vacation, and who doesn’t want to let themselves go a little bit?

I figure once I get home I can get back to healthy fare and I’ll be back in shape in no time.

But I may be fooling myself.

I came across an interesting study by researchers at the University of Georgia and Texas Tech University. Researchers looked over 100 people and found that 61% percent of them gained almost a pound, on average, while on vacation. Some gained almost 7 pounds!

But the really bad news?

That weight tended to stay on after they returned home.

Sure, a pound or two may not seem like a lot. But if you go on 2 vacations a year … in 5 years you’re up 10 pounds.

Luckily we don’t all have to come home to too-tight pants with just a few simple tricks.

Forgo the fruity drinks. The study found that one of the main contributors to vacation weight gain was the intake of calories from alcohol. The average number of drinks doubled – from 8 per week before vacation to 16 per week on vacation.

Pack plenty of healthy snacks. You don’t want to have to rely on airport food or vending machines in a hotel. Try protein bars, small bags of almonds, and apples. Or some RealMeal GF. Store it in a small air-tight container and pack that into a sturdy sealed bag. All you need is a glass of water for a healthy, delicious snack.

Make good choices at the buffet. It’s tempting to pile your plate high with pancakes and hash browns at the breakfast buffet. Instead, make sure you fill your plate at least half way with healthy, protein-packed food – like a veggie omelet – and you can use the other half for treats like French toast. (Put some berries on top!)

Rein yourself in at restaurants. Restaurants are notorious for making us order the most fattening things on the menu by describing them in delicious–sounding terms. Stay away from anything “breaded,” “fried,” “crispy,” “scalloped,” “rich,” or “creamy.” Instead, ask for your food to be baked, broiled or grilled. (And sauce on the side!)

Take advantage of your surroundings. If you’re in a warm weather climate, don’t just lie on the beach all day. Play a game of tennis. Get in the lake for some kayaking. Go for a bike ride. If you’re at a cabin in the woods, step away from the fireplace, put on a parka and take a power walk. Put on some snowshoes and enjoy the scenery. Go cross-country skiing. Regardless of where you are, there are going to be new things to see and do. Aim for a minimum of an hour of some sort of activity every day.

Indulge, but not at every meal. Nobody likes to feel deprived, especially on vacation. Let yourself have a treat, but don’t go crazy. So order that decadent dessert … but share it with your family.

Do you have any other tips on vacationing without packing on the pounds? I’d love to hear them. Give me a shout at drsteve@realdose.com

Steve Sisskind, M.D.

Hi, I'm Dr. Steve Sisskind, Chief Medical Officer & Founder at RealDose Nutrition.

As a young physician, I struggled because my patients came to me with serious health issues, but I didn't have the right tools to help them. Medical school taught me how to put "band aids" on their symptoms with drugs and surgery, but not how to address the root causes of their problems.

Years later I discovered a better approach... based on the fundamental idea that the power of nutrition can transform your health and vitality. But there's a lot of confusion... What foods should I eat? Which supplements should I take? What does the science say?

I have dedicated my life to answering these questions... And I share this knowledge with you every day here at RealDose Nutrition.

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References

1. Cooper JA, Tokar T. A prospective study on vacation weight gain in adults. Physiol Behav. 2016;156:43-7. PMID: 26768234.

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