Going on vacation typically means that you come home with a lot of things. First and foremost, you bring back all of these great memories. Hopefully that means you took more than a few pictures to remind you of the good times you’ve had, as well as the new friends you’ve made along the way.
Then there’s the souvenirs, the little trinkets you’ve picked up from various places either to keep for yourself or give away to family and friends who couldn’t enjoy the experience with you. But a lot of us come back with something more… extra weight.
Admittedly, one of the best things about traveling to new regions of the world and seeing landscapes often very different from our own (love the mountains and water!) is the ability to experience the local cuisine. However, from the soft, homemade pastas in Italy to the heavenly spiced curries in India, it’s pretty easy to pack on a little (or a lot of) unwanted weight before your time off ends and you’re forced back to the realities of a job, and family, and all of the other obligations that being an adult means.
While it may be tempting to simply not eat some of the most interesting or talked about local dishes in an effort to protect your health and wellness, taking this route would neglect your innate desire to expand your horizons by trying new and different things. Therefore, if your goal is to eat culturally yet healthily while traveling, the key is to allow yourself to experience the food without damaging your waistline in the process.
Set Treat Days
Instead of abandoning your healthy eating completely while away from home, why not allow yourself treat meals or even treat days so you can enjoy new and exciting foods guilt-free? This works for college students leaving home for the first time in their efforts to avoid the dreaded freshman 15, and it can also work for travelers intent on returning from vacation the same size they were when they left.
By removing guilt from the equation, you lessen the likelihood of eating emotionally, which is a huge issue for a lot of us. Plus, having treat days also reduce the chance that you’ll feel deprived, another emotion which can drive you to eat more than your body needs.
Watch Your Portion Sizes
It is super easy to go overboard with food, especially when you have a heaping plate sitting in front of you. Even if you tell yourself you’ll only eat half, before you know it, you’re looking down and the food is gone.
Yet, another great way to stay healthy while eating on the road is to watch your portion sizes. Many travelers feel that the United States is one of the worst offenders when it comes to serving more food than one person should eat, so this is something to keep in mind if your journey takes you within the borders of the U.S.
It’s also good advice to mind your serving sizes, no matter where your travels take you, as being faced with a number of different foods you want to try can cause you to eat more than you normally would. For that reason, just remember that one or two bites is enough to experience a food’s tastes and textures. Save the larger portion sizes for the foods you absolutely fall in love with and can’t wait to eat again.
Do Your Homework
Have you ever went to a buffet-type event and started filling your plate in the beginning only to get halfway through and see so many different foods you want to try that you walk away with an absolutely heaping plate? One way to keep this from happening is to check out the entire buffet before filling your plate, ensuring that you get the foods you want without overdoing it.
The same general principles apply when traveling. Scope out the entire local cuisine before you go and decide on a few dishes that you really want to try. That way you’re not bombarded with a ton of options and end up eating more than you’d like.
Go For the Veggies
To keep yourself from overeating while away, it also helps to fill your plate with the one food group lowest in calories—vegetables. You can accomplish this by choosing at least one or two veggies to have with each new-to-you meal, or you could even make it a point to taste some of the best vegetarian dishes from the region.
By keeping meat to a minimum, you’ll be able to potentially save yourself from quite a few extra calories and an ever-expanding waistline. It’s like having the best of both worlds!
Traveling doesn’t have to be synonymous with weight gain, and if you do these four things, it won’t. Now get out there and see the world, enjoying local cuisines at the same time, safe in the knowledge that you’ll still fit in the same size clothes when you return!
This post was written by Shelly Stinson. Shelly is a freelance writer based out of Denver, CO. Her interests include healthy living, being active outdoors and trying new restaurants. Find her on twitter: https://twitter.com/