Get Back to Healthy Eating: 8 Easy Steps to Post-Vacation Recovery

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Written on 6/24/2008 by Ali Hale who blogs about healthy living for busy people at The Office Diet. You can grab the RSS feed here.

You went on a dream vacation – enjoying gorgeous weather, lazy days by the pool, fun with family and friends, and, of course, lots of indulgent meals, snacks and drinks. But now you’ve returned home to find the dream fast becoming a nightmare – starting with the moment you step on the bathroom scale.

You need a post-vacation recovery plan, to make sure you don’t pile on any more pounds – and to lose that weight you gained quickly and easily. Here’s my eight top ways to get back on the dieting wagon:

  1. Prep the Fridge
    As you struggle home with your luggage, dinner is probably the last thing on your mind. But arriving to an empty fridge often leads to ringing the nearest pizza joint. Instead, leave a key with a friend, and ask them to pick up a few basics for you on the day you’re due back (and promise to reciprocate the favor when they go on vacation!). You’ll have the makings of a healthy meal ready on your return.
  • Hide those holiday treats
    Chances are, you (or your kids) have picked up a few goodies whilst on holiday: boxes of fudge, biscuits, chocolates and candy are all great little vacation souvenirs. However, an extra few inches round your waist isn’t! Put the treats out of sight, at least for a week or two.Another option is to take a boxful of vacation yummies to work, Church or school, and offer them round: it’s a nice way to share some of the fun you’ve had! 
  • Get straight back into your usual routine
    It’s often tempting to stick in “vacation mode” for just a few extra days. Whether it’s ordering takeout for dinner, having sticky pastries for breakfast, skipping your gym session, etc., The indulgences you enjoyed on vacation can quickly become bad habits. 

Be firm with yourself and get stuck into your normal routine as quickly as possible. That might mean dragging yourself to the gym for your usual Monday workout, or reminding the family that only Friday is “takeout day” – not every night of the week!

  • Eat lots of fruit and vegetables
    Going back to the basics of healthy eating really helps. Have plenty of light, simple meals incorporating lots of fruit and veggies. If you’ve been suffering any digestive problems as a result of changing your eating patterns during your vacation, upping your fruit and veg intake can help get everything moving smoothly again. 

And, if you’re like most of us, the figure on your bank balance post-vacation may have been as horrifying as the number on the scales. Easy, healthy meals – perhaps going meat-free a few days of the week – can also help you recover financially…

  • Keep a food diary for a couple of weeks
    It’s easy whilst on vacation to lose track of what you’ve eaten over the course of the day – meals might be at odd times, and you often end up eating a series of constant snacks. 

Don’t let this carry on once you’re home. Grab a small diary or notebook, or open up a new spreadsheet on your computer and write down what you eat and when. If you’ve never kept a food diary before, you’ll be amazed how much easier it is to turn down that tempting cookie when you know you’ll have to write it in your notebook…

  • Cook with some new ingredients
    It’s likely that you tried a few new foods, or whole dishes, whilst on holiday. Did you find any new favorites? Why not get a recipe book, and try recreating them at home – some may need adapting to make them a little healthier, but you might just have discovered a great new addition to your diet. 

Broadening the range of foods you eat is usually beneficial, helping you get plenty of nutrients in your diet for optimal health – and ensuring that you enjoy lots of variety, so that you don’t get bored. Plus, every time you cook your new meal, you’ll be reminded of the great vacation you had. 

  • Carry on with the new activities you tried
    Vacations are often a great chance to try out some new things. Perhaps you’d always wanted to water-ski, learn to fence, take an aerobics class, or swim every morning before breakfast … but you never got round to trying it till your vacation. 

If you found a type of exercise that you really enjoyed, why not make it a regular part of your life? Look for a club nearby that offers beginners’ sessions, and sign up. You might soon have a whole new hobby.

  • Have a few days alcohol-free
    If you drink alcohol, you probably indulged a little (or a lot) more than usual whilst on vacation. Knowing that you don’t have to drag yourself to work in the morning may have meant drinking every night, rather than just at the weekend. And local specialties, or vacation treats such as cocktails, may have tempted you into having a bit more than usual. 

Declare the first few days or week after you come home as an “alcohol free zone”. It’ll help you get your wallet and your waist back into a healthier shape – and you’ll be better able to focus when it comes to digging through that inevitable pile of emails…

The main thing to remember is not to panic about having gained a few pounds during your vacation. Giving up on healthy eating entirely is not a good option, but neither is crash dieting. Getting straight back into good routines and habits will see those pounds drop off easily – and you’ll be left with just the happy memories, rather than unwanted weight, from your vacation.

Have you ever put on a lot of weight during a vacation? How did you deal with it? Add any of your tips in the comments below … and hopefully we’ll all learn how to have a wonderful summer!

-Ali

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