Have you ever noticed that you tend to lose weight when you go on vacation? You’re surrounded by delicious food and treats you’ve been longing for all year. Yet somehow, instead of putting on weight like you would if you were at home – you end up losing it! You may be wondering why this happens, and if it’s something that you can replicate in your regular life.
As a Weight Loss Dietitian, I have some insight into why this phenomenon occurs.
Why You May Lose Weight On Vacation
More Activity Throughout Your Day
Most of us live fairly sedentary lives, even if we go to the gym or exercise regularly. Our work often involves sitting, some of us may sit during our commutes to work, and many of us sit during after-work hours (watching TV, watching your child play soccer, driving to get errands, playing video games, crafting etc).
If we work from home, our daily movement is significantly lower because we don’t need to commute or walk around the office. When we leave our daily routines behind and venture off on an exciting vacation, we naturally become more active without even realizing it.
Maybe it’s the hours spent exploring new cities, strolling through charming streets, or getting lost in the beauty of a new country. Perhaps it’s the thrill of splashing in the ocean waves, playing beach volleyball, or challenging ourselves to breathtaking hikes and exhilarating water sports. These delightful vacation activities not only give us a wonderful sense of adventure but also increases activity without feeling like we live in the gym which could be one of the reasons you lost weight over vacation.
It’s almost like Mother Nature’s gift to us – a gentle reminder that embracing an active lifestyle through movements that you enjoy can bring joy, vitality, and a healthier, happier version of ourselves.
Less Access To Snacks
For many of us, we are fortunate to have an abundance of food available at home, work, and social gatherings. We are surrounded by food in our daily lives and may eat more frequently than we notice. However, when you are on vacation that changes because you are not fighting the afternoon slump by eating baked goods in the lunchroom or snacking out of habit or boredom while watching TV.
You may not even realize it, but chances are, you may get lost in the experiences instead of eating on a strict schedule or you may not pack as many snacks for your trip as you would for a day at the office or running errands back home.
As a result, we tend to focus more on meal times, and you might notice that there’s less snacking throughout the day. But here’s the silver lining: without those constant nibbles, we’re actually cutting down on our overall calorie intake! It’s amazing how a simple break from our snacking routine can make such a difference, and we don’t even have to work that hard to achieve it. This is another reason why you may lose weight on vacation without trying! For once, it’s a relief not to count calories or worry about constant cravings. So embrace this newfound freedom, and enjoy your vacation – your body will thank you for it!
More Sleep & Less Stress
Another benefit of vacation lies in the fact that it allows us to catch up on all those hours of sleep we’ve been deprived of, while also offering a soothing escape from the day-to-day stressors that can wear us out emotionally and physically. This blissful combination of ample sleep and reduced stress has a remarkable effect on our bodies – say hello to decreased cortisol production and a more peaceful state of mind! These very changes make it easier for us to resist the urge to snack mindlessly or make poor food choices, without food occupying our every thought. And isn’t that a wonderful little bonus to our much-needed getaway?
Less Comfort Eating
When we’re caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, we may not even realize how often we turn to food for comfort, whether we’re feeling bored, stressed, or sad. But as we venture out on that much-needed getaway, the refreshing change of scenery and a newfound sense of adventure seems to miraculously melt away the emotions or thoughts that lead to emotional eating habits.
As we step back from our usual triggers and immerse ourselves in the excitement of exploring new places and experiences, we find that we are less focused on food which could lead to an unintentional drop in calories and results in weight loss while on vacation. If this is a pattern for you, you may want to consider working on emotional eating with a Dietitian or psychologist when you are back home.
There you have it! Those are the common reasons you may lose weight on vacation. If you notice any of those patterns in yourself, it highlights that your daily routine and habit could use some fine-tuning if you want to get those results at home too!
Should I Try to Lose Weight on Vacation?
Taking a vacation is about getting away from it all, building memories, and feeling free!
Our Nutritionists for Weight Loss believe that your focus should be on enjoying the experience, not worrying about counting calories. Setting a goal to maintain weight during travel is an ideal way to enjoy all that trips have to offer, rather than missing out on amazing experiences because you’re too focused on food and exercise.
We encourage setting realistic goals to maintain weight instead of trying to lose while traveling so you don’t miss out on any lifesaving adventures or delicious eats along the way – our Dietitians live by this mantra when they travel themselves!
Should I Go on a Pre Vacation Diet?
If you’re debating whether or not to go on a pre vacation diet, the answer isn’t straightforward. It’s all about how your body responds when freedom is in sight! Generally speaking, our clients have been successful at being mindful of their food choices while away – but that’s only because they’ve spent time learning and honing healthy habits as well as repairing their relationship with food before departure. The risk of going too hard with your diet before leaving may result in an overindulgent feast once you arrive – so choose wisely!
Check out this blog on the secret to feeling better without weight loss.
How to Lose Weight on Vacation?
Again we don’t recommend this but here are the strategies we help our clients implement to maintain weight on vacation. Depending on where you are on your nutrition journey, you may lose weight on vacation by following these strategies.
1. Pay attention to your hunger and fullness cues throughout the day and during meals. No one, even Dietitians, makes good choices when they are too hungry!
- Eat slowly and mindfully during meals to help you recognize gentle fullness before you are overfull
- Depending on the location and restaurant, portion sizes can be much larger than what we need. Don’t miss out on fun things you want to try, opt for smaller servings or share dishes with someone else!
2. Aim to eat at least 3 times a day to avoid grazing or skipping meals (then overeating later).
- Vacations are all about relaxing, exploring, and indulging in exciting experiences which sometimes leads us to unknowingly skip meals in favor of adventure. It’s absolutely natural to get caught up in the thrill of discovering new places and sleeping in past breakfast time, but it’s essential to remember that our body needs fuel to keep up with our itinerary. Let’s not allow primal hunger (when you are too hungry) to dictate our food choices, leading us to overindulge or make unhealthy decisions during dinner. Instead, try listening to your body and nourishing it with small, wholesome meals throughout the day, even if it means pausing for a moment in between sightseeing. Trust me, your body will thank you for it, and you’ll be able to fully embrace the wonders of your vacation without compromising your health and well-being.
- You may want to pack a snack on outings. Bring foods that you don’t mind getting warm in your bag like apples, bananas, oranges, nuts, dried beans, jerky or protein bars.
- If you are not hungry between meals, you don’t need to have any snacks! Save em for later!
3. Choose 1-2 meals per day that you will aim for a balanced plate by prioritizing lean protein and vegetables or high-fibre foods.
- Some of our clients will choose to make their own breakfast and snacks if they are staying off-resort
- Start the day with higher protein + fibre from whole grains or fruit (such as greek yogurt or cottage cheese with fruit)
- If you aim to have a more balanced breakfast and lunch, you will balance out the day as a whole when you choose to have less balanced meals at supper!
- If possible, continue to look up menu choices when you are eating out but that depends on which country you are visiting or if you are eating at a chain restaurant.
- Another strategy is to learn some of the words for “fried”, “steamed”, “grilled” or “broiled” of the country you are visiting. For example, chiên is fried in Vietnamese and frito or frita is fried in Spanish.
- Check out our other blog on how to make BBQs healthier for summer vacation ideas.
4. Be intentional with your extras or fun foods or treats.
- Set a goal to have a certain number of “treats” or extras daily. For example, you could choose 2 extras daily which could be a fried dish for supper and ice cream in the afternoon.
- At Edge Nutrition, we prefer the term “extra” over treat, bad, or junk food. There is no such thing as good or bad food nor do we want to convey our clients have to “earn” foods they enjoy. When we eat extras we are often eating for pleasure and satisfaction, not necessarily fueling our everyday lives so it is not our foundation, it is extra! We classify extras as fried foods, higher fat/sugar/salt foods, highly processed foods, desserts, alcohol, or a calorie-containing beverage like a slushie or caramel macchiato.
- If you do not want any extras or you do not like what is available, you do not need to force it but we also don’t recommend “banking” them to eat all in one day either. Listening to your body and its cravings means that some days you may want 2 extras and other days you do not want any.
- Be a food snob! Be “picky” with your extras. If you do not like blizzards, it is easier to say no when it is coming from a place of satisfaction instead of restriction.
- You can eat anything but not everything (and still reach your goals)!
Read our blog on how to stop craving sweets after dinner!
5. Prioritize sleep & relaxation as it is time for you to reset! You need it!
6. Continue to be active daily
- Take advantage of local activities like walking tours or bike rides to explore the city while getting exercise.
- Try new activities that you have never tried before like water skiing or volcano surfing!
7. Stay hydrated – carry a water bottle with you everywhere and fill it up often (or buy new ones depending on where you are visiting)!
Vacations can offer a great opportunity to nourish yourself – both through experiences and nutrition. With the right planning and self-awareness, you can avoid weight gain while on vacation and potentially even lose a few pounds. Don’t be too hard on yourself – vacation is meant to be enjoyed after all! Prioritizing your health – both physical and mental – during vacations will help ensure you still stay on track with your goals.
If you need help, there are always professionals available such as dietitians who can help assess your situation and come up with effective strategies for managing your weight. You could also read our blog on slow metabolisms.
Reach out to us today and start the process of discovering how our Dietitians could provide the support, guidance, and motivation needed to lose weight in a safe and sustainable way. We would love to help create a plan customized for your needs so you can confidently work towards reaching your goals.
After all, wellness does not have to take a back seat when it comes to having fun; it is possible to stay healthy outside of the home (or country) too!