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Avoid Vacation Weight Gain

When you’re on vacation, it may be very easy to abandon the lifestyle changes you have been developing.  The downside is, when you return home you often have feelings of guilt and remorse about the choices you made while on vacation.  Then, as you follow-up with the office to weigh, the consequences show up on the scales. 

It isn’t necessary to make weight loss the main goal of your vacation; however, maintaining your weight is a realistic target.  Consider the following tips to keep your health in line while on vacation this year.
Tip # 1:  Be Prepared
                Whether you travel by plane or automobile, always be prepared.  Keep healthy food options around so you will not be tempted to grab whatever is available.  Pack a cooler full of satisfying small meals and beverages.  Lean lunch meat, yogurt, cottage cheese, fruit can take the place of fast-food and convenience store foods.  Protein bars, tuna/chicken packets, and single serve peanut butter are convenient travel foods that do not have to be refrigerated.  Packing these foods will also save you money.  However, even though the food is available do not be tempted to snack around the clock.  Delays and boredom are bound to happen.  Don’t let this be an excuse to overeat. 
Tip # 2:  Select Sensible Choices
                Make sensible choices when dining out.  It is easy to break your calorie budget by eating foods that are fried.  Ask that foods be baked, broiled, or grilled.  Be cautious however, because some restaurants still add fat (such as butter and oil) to these dishes.  You may request that your food be made without added fat. 
                Avoid child menus and appetizer menus.  These foods are often higher in fat and the dipping sauces are loaded with sugar and calories.  Foods higher in fat tend to stimulate appetite which cause you to consume more calories.
                Make water a part of your meal.  It fills you up and never lets you down.  Don’t forget to fluid load!  Fluid loading on 4-8 oz prior to a meal helps fill your pouch and prevent over eating.  Remember not to drink with the meals as this can cause hunger after meals and an increase in calories at meals.
Tip # 3:  Don’t Forget Exercise
                As Rebecca discussed in her blog last month, exercise during vacation is very important.  Airport delays are often inevitable – use it as an excuse to work in extra exercise.  You can get many steps in while waiting for your flight.
                Select a vacation that requires you to be active.  Choose a hotel that is within walking distance of popular attractions.  If you choose a destination close to the ocean, make it a point to walk the shore line each day.  If a body of water is accessible, participate in recreational aquatics.  Sometimes hotels and resorts have an exercise room – use it!  If you can’t exercise, be active daily.

Tip # 4: Slow Down and Consider What You Are Eating
                While on vacation, it is often common to socialize while dining out.  You may not realize that you are eating as much as you are if you are not paying attention.  Since restaurants serve larger portion sizes, request that a to-go box be brought to the table with your meal so you are not tempted to ever eat.  If you want to sit around the table and socialize, simply remove the food plates so you are not tempted to graze.  The same mentality should be used for calorie-filled drinks. 

Tip # 5: Practice Self-Control
                It’s okay to indulge in things that you ordinarily wouldn’t while on vacation.  Trying a restaurant’s signature apple pie may feel like a must while on vacation, but the key is to do so in moderation.  Limit the desserts you eat by sharing.  Try not to make dessert a habit.  Indulging occasionally if you are still hungry is okay, but having dessert with each meal will create bad habits and pack on those extra pounds quickly.
                Alcohol contains calories.  Alternate alcoholic beverages with non-alcoholic, non-caloric beverages to stay hydrated and avoid extra calories.  Select lower-calorie choices such as light beer, wine spritzers, wine, champagne, or spirits mixed with water or diet mixes.  Remember to avoid alcohol for the first year after surgery.

Tip # 6: Make it Yourself
                You don’t have to eat every meal in a restaurant.  Request a room with a kitchenette when available.  If you are on a budget, find a hotel with a mini-fridge and/or microwave.  You can stock up on fresh fruits, eggs, Morning Star Farm products, yogurt and milk for breakfast.  Frozen entrees can make a quick lunch.  Making food yourself saves money and calories!
Krystal Cameron, RD, LDN
Registered Dietitian
New Life Center for Bariatric Surgery

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