Tips for Healthy Eating While on Vacation

It seems like every vacation is a personal battle of the bulge. New types of food you've just got to try, eating out, snacking at theme parks or other attractions--it all adds up. The good news is that vacation rentals are perfect for helping you control what you eat and when. You'll have a full kitchen, plenty of room for groceries, and convenient ways to make the food you want, when you want them. While that's all true, vacation still presents some challenges for people watching their weight, even when staying in a vacation rental. So how do you keep the weight off and still enjoy great meals and local cuisine? Here are some tips for eating healthy while staying in a vacation rental.

First, avoid overeating when you're traveling to and from your destination. Whether you fly or drive, the road food experience is not the flavor you're looking for. Go on a mini-diet on the days you travel--let your stomach growl a bit. You'll have more energy for sprints through the airport to catch your connecting flight, and avoid blood sugar crashes that can make you sleepy while driving. And you'll be nice and hungry when you get to where you're going so you can savor the local cuisine even more.

Plan your meals before you leave. You're on vacation, so you'll want to stay flexible, but go ahead and create daily meal plans. Figure on eating breakfast in your vacation rental every day. Depending on what you're planning on doing, you'll also want to cook at least one other meal in your kitchen, whether it's lunch or dinner, and prepare your snacks for the day as well. When you arrive, you'll have a grocery list, which will keep you from over-buying and leaving food behind when your stay is over.

Sample the local fruits and veggies. The best things to eat to keep your weight under control are fruits and vegetables. Treat yourself to any new or exotic items available where you're going. Look for roadside stands to buy produce from--they'll be like the ones back home. If you're worried about contamination, be sure to wash your fruits and vegetables as you normally would.

Ask the property owner or manager about the available appliances. This is helpful because you need to know what you'll be working with in your kitchen. Is there a rice cooker? A crockpot? Will you be able to make a big pot of soup (little is more satisfying or filling than a nice, hot bowl of soup). What are the pans like -- are they big enough to cook a batch of scrambled eggs for your party? Ask if the oven is in good working order. You don't want to get there and find out you can bake a meal you'd been planning on enjoying. Little problems like that can send you running to the nearest restaurant for a quick -- and calorific -- meal.

Bring a cookbook or download a cooking app. Vacations are a time for making new, fun memories, and your cooking should be no different. Instead of making the same old favorites from back home, investigate the local cuisine and try to replicate it the best you can. Don't be afraid to try something new and different -- it's part of being flexible on your trip. Even if it ends up not turning out exactly right, everyone will appreciate that you tried, and it's just one more way for you to give them a great memory.

Learn about ingredients that might not be available where you're going. If you're traveling from America, you'll be surprised at the differences in the availability of certain ingredients. For example, brown sugar can be tough to find in Europe. Vanilla is different in other parts of the world. Ketchup -- even if it's an American brand -- tastes different according to local preferences. You may need to pack some of your own ingredients in zip lock bags.

Air conditioning and the availability of grills. This is important to remember if where you're going is especially hot. If the vacation rental doesn't have air conditioning, it may be too hot to cook in the kitchen during the day. In that case you may want to use an outdoor grill. Even if heat isn't an issue, you may still want to plan some meals on the grill, since grilled food can be so healthy.

Of course, the biggest key to not gaining weight on vacation is to not eat or drink too much. Staying in vacation rentals can help with this. If you're at a hotel or resort, there'll be lots of temptations to buy snacks or quick meals at delis or in-house restaurants. A vacation rental will have no such temptations--unless you buy too much ice cream for your freezer.

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