Keeping up with a healthy diet on vacation may seem impossible.
In fact, one obstacle is that we tend to eat more when we aren’t cooking our own meals.
“When we eat outside of our home, most studies show we will eat between 35 to 45% more in terms of our portions,” explained Kristin Kirkpatrick, RD, registered dietitian with Cleveland Clinic. “On top of that, plates at restaurants are usually much larger. They could be two to three times larger than the plate size you’re used to in your kitchen. So, it’s easy to overeat because sometimes you can’t accurately assess how much food is actually in front of you.”
When dining out on vacation, registered dietitian Kristin Kirkpatrick suggests eating the things that will fill us up first, like fiber and vegetables.
To cut down on those large portion sizes, Kirkpatrick said you can enjoy half the meal at the restaurant and take the leftovers back to your hotel for the next day.
Another tip is modifying something on the menu to make it more nutrient-dense.
If there’s a pasta dish with chicken and broccoli, you can request less pasta and up the chicken and broccoli.
When it comes to buffets, she urges people to stick with smaller portions if they want to try multiple things and really focus on recognizing when they’re full.
And since vacation is a time to relax and enjoy, Kirkpatrick said allowing indulgences is important.
“If having refined grains like white pasta is something you really crave, then maybe allow yourself to have that one night,” she said. “Allowing these indulgences can go a long way because then we don’t feel the need to have to go crazy with the indulgences. We can actually factor them in.”
Aside from what you eat, Kirkpatrick adds sticking to a regular sleep schedule and limiting alcohol can help.
Getting too much or not enough sleep can sway our assessment of hunger and fullness – while drinking too much can lead to overeating.