Family Vacations-How to Indulge Without Guilt

beach pineapples

What kind of vacation do you go on in the summer?  Is it a caramel popcorn, Thrasher fries, Candy Kitchen, and ice cream trip to the beach?  A hamburger and hotdog, family restaurant trip to the lake? Maybe it’s a jet setting adventure that includes airport food and tasty local cuisine.  Wherever your vacation destination may be, I bet dollars to donuts (did you say Fractured Prune?) it includes more food than a typical week at home. Am I right? If you’ve ever returned from vacation with a few extra pounds and a bunch of tacky souvenirs, you are not alone. So let’s discuss.

Vacation weight gain typically occurs because there is often have a limited ability (or desire) to cook and/or store food. This means the convenience of dining out or  picking up premade goodies at the store becomes the vacation norm. Since I am not one to look for ways to make vacation harder or deprive you of your vacation food traditions, I have 5 easy ways for you to indulge without the guilt:

ice cream
Tip 1. Resist the Urge to Splurge: Restaurants + Treats  

First, accept that on vacation you will be eating out more often and, yes, treating more often – BUT the goal here is to feel good about these decisions – not guilty.   When it comes to splurging, remember moderation is key! 

Restaurants:  Summer is all about fresh foods so look for seasonal veggies and the catch of the day.  Avoid those high fat appetizers and say no to the bread basket.  And, if you must indulge, split an appetizer or dessert.  If you are enjoying a local brew or featured cocktail, remember juice-based drinks are filled with sugar, so opt for low calorie mixers.  

Treats: Don’t resist the treat, just limit the treat in size and frequency.  A small scoop is as delicious as a double scoop.  Make a goal of no more than one treat a day and enjoy! 

Tip 2. Plan to Snack: On the Go + Sitting Still 

Snacking and vacation go hand and hand, so having a stash of portable healthy snacks is essential.  When we grab something on the go, we don’t always make the healthy choice – so think about stashing a few of these in your bag (along with a water bottle) the minute you leave for vacation:  whole fruits, nuts, seeds, dried fruits (think trail mix), protein rich snack bars, single serve nut butters, whole wheat crackers, goldfish crackers/pretzels, popcorn, PB&J.  

Once you reach your destination, or if a cold pack is an option, add yogurts, cut fruit or vegetables, hard-boiled eggs, and cheese sticks.

If you aren’t a planner and don’t want to be a planner, I understand completely.  When you are on the search for a snack, look for the items above.  I often stop at a local grocery store rather than convenience market since I know the selection and prices will be better.

Healthy vacation
Tip 3. Physical Activity: See the Sights + Do the things

Here is the funny thing about vacations – we are typically MORE active than we are at home! But we are also eating more as well. Look for ways you can increase your physical activity outside of your typical activities. Is there a lesson you want to try (an hour of stand-up paddle boarding can burn over 500 calories), can you ride your bike to get that ice cream cone (burn about 200 calories), or hike that local trail (about 300 calories an hour)? Burning more calories means more calories to eat.

Tip 4. Hydrate to Feel Great: Grab a Bottle + Keep it Full

Travel by nature is dehydrating – add the summer heat and you need to double down. I know having to stop for a potty break (multiple times) on the way to your destination can be a drag, but so is feeling tired, weak, and disoriented. So make that water bottle your must have accessory. Even if you are traveling by air, you can bring an empty bottle and fill it up on the other side of check-in (have you seen our Nourish water bottle bottles? They’re great!). Besides making us feel awesome, water has zero calories and can keep our hunger at bay.

5. Treat Yourself: Home + Away

Don’t get excited. This is not a license to splurge but a reminder to “treat yourself” the same way AWAY from home that you do AT home. Opportunities to snack, treat, and splurge are in abundance and if we approach each of these opportunities with a vacation mindset, we may eat when we aren’t hungry and eat more than we should when we are hungry. Be mindful, be present, be the same person you try to be at home.


So there you have it. Five simple strategies for going on vacation from your day to day surroundings but not your day to day eating goals. Remember, no one meal or one vacation will wreck you hard work toward healthier eating. So, enjoy yourself and focus on the real reasons we go on vacation – to change our scenery and to spend time with the ones we love.