In today’s blog, we are going to share with you all of our favourite travel tips! These tips are things we teach our YQL nutrition clients, but we also wanted to share them with you so that you can look and feel your best this summer (and all year round) while traveling/vacationing!
Summer and travel does NOT have to mean no progress, or even worse, regressing from your goals. You CAN make progress towards your goals, while ENJOYING making memories on vacation if you are intentional about your choices!
This blog will be broken up into a few sections to help you navigate your goals while traveling!
1.Before you go on your trip:
- Planning your nutrition phase around travel (maintenance, fat loss, muscle gain)
- Going in with a realistic goal
- Packing things to bring with you
- Booking strategic places to stay (have a kitchenette/fridge, gym access)
2. During your Trip
- How to prioritize healthy habits (water, veggies, protein, movement, whole foods)
- Exercising the Power of Choice and Prioritizing your goals
- Honouring Hunger and Fullness
3. Returning Home from your Trip
- Relationship with scale and self
- Returning to routine
PART 1 – BEFORE YOU GO ON YOUR TRIP
Phases of nutrition
When you plan a trip, if you are working with a nutrition coach, ensure you communicate that you have booked this trip with your coach! This is important for the following reasons:
1.So we can determine if we need to adjust your current/planned PHASE of nutrition.
If you have been following us or have done one of our programs, you will recall we are really big on planning out PHASES of nutrition (maintenance, fat loss, muscle building), with an emphasis on spending most of your time in MAINTENANCE. We want to keep fat loss phases as short and focused as possible. If you are planning to start a fat loss phase, but then have a trip scheduled 2-3 weeks into the fat loss phase, we may recommend adjusting the start date of your fat loss phase so you’re not interrupting the fat loss phase with a vacation where adherence may be more challenging right out the gates..
(for more information on what these “phases” of nutrition are, check out our energy balance blog HERE
2. So we can help you navigate your current goals with your planned trip
Once we determine if you are going to be in your fat loss phase during your trip, we can then help you develop strategies that are going to work for you, your trip, and your current goal (more on this to follow). Remember, realistic planning is one of the main drivers for SUCCESS, not to mention by having a plan you are also less likely to experience negative emotions such as guilt or feelings of stress because you are unsure of how to navigate your goals AND your trip.
3. So we can collaborate on the appropriate nutritional strategy for your trip
i.e. intuitive eating, tracked vacation, or a planned diet break.
The approach during your vacation will depend on what phase you are currently in, what type of vacation you are going on, the level of commitment to your nutrition plan you desire to have, and your expectations of progress post vacation.
Here are a few examples:
- If you are 4 weeks into a fat loss phase, you are going camping for the long weekend with friends, are packing all your own food, and want to continue losing body fat, then a tracked vacation may a very realistic approach!
- If you are just starting your maintenance phase and you have a vacation planned to visit your family members out of town, this would be an amazing opportunity to practice intuitive eating (especially since the goal of maintenance is …. (you guessed it😉 ), to maintain your current body weight!)
- If you are 12 weeks into a fat loss phase, have an all-inclusive trip to mexico planned, want to eat more food than your current calorie deficit allows, and your expectation for progress is to maintain your current results, then a planned diet break for this vacation may be a great option!
Of note – diet breaks are a planned period of time where you eat at maintenance calories, and then resume the calorie deficit after the diet break is over. The time of the diet break can vary from person to person, the goal of this diet break is to maintain results while enjoying more calories and flexibility for a short period of time
Going in with a realistic goals and expectations:
Having realistic goals going into the trip and expectations for after the trip is SO important and something that often gets overlooked!As mentioned above, your goals and expectations play into the approach and strategies you are going to go with during your vacation
Here are some examples of common mindsets going into vacations we have heard clients express (including how they viewed vacations before working with us):
-“Screw it. I’ve worked so hard at work lately; I deserve a vacation where I just think about nothing and do nothing.”
– “I want to enjoy this trip, make memories, take a break from tracking my macros and really tune into my body”
– “This is my 4th 5-day vacation in the last 2 months, I swear I am going on a vacation every week! For this one, I actually want to continue with tracking my calories to move me toward fat loss as I have enjoyed more flexibility in my other vacations.”
Do you see how the “goal” of the vacation and mindset of the person is different for each of these people? Therefore, the expectation of what will happen POST vacation should be different.
– The “screw it” mentality- well, if we are saying “screw it” and you are not tuning into your body, and honoring it through movement and nourishing food, it would be unfair to expect that your body composition will not change. So, if that is your choice, you must be at peace with that reality
– The “I want to make memories and feel good mentality” is what we hope you choose! This is an approach focused on balance, moderation, and feeling your best both short and long-term! With this approach, there are a few possible outcomes – you maintain your body composition by applying the principles of intuitive eating, you continue to lose weight (although this is less likely with this approach), or you have some minor body composition changes which can be easily reversed once back into routine post vacay.
– The “I want to still progress towards fat loss” is an option as well! If you are someone who is frequently traveling every other weekend, some weekends you may want more flexibility (ie more calories) than other weekends, and this is okay too! Just be clear about the goal of the vacation beforehand, because as we said, this will allow you to be present in making memories! Some tradeoffs may need to be made to allow you to be adherent in making progress towards your fat loss goals- we will cover this later on in this blog when we discuss honoring what we actually want long term!
The biggest thing we recommend for clients is they prioritize their healthy habits while away, this includes water, veggies, protein, movement. We will talk about this shortly!
What to bring with you on vacation
We do NOT have to go overboard here by any means. But there are a few things you can bring with you that will help you hit your goals both on travel days, and during your vacation (this list will vary by where you are going and how you are getting there (ie car vs plane)!
Our go to’s:
When traveling, often the hardest thing to hit is your protein target. So, we recommend supplementing your protein needs by bringing protein powder/bars that can be super helpful!
For example, when Megan was on her last trip, she would order oatmeal at Starbucks while traveling and add a scoop of protein powder to it! BOOM protein! Again, it doesn’t have to be hard… but it does require some thought 😉
If packing food isn’t a feasible option, then buying food at a grocery store the day you arrive is another great option!
Booking strategic places to stay:
If budget and location allows, we do recommend taking the extra second to book a place with a small kitchenette, or at minimum a fridge. This way, you can store things at your place (ie fruit, yogurt, etc) so that you can have options that align with your goals more readily available – a bonus is it will also save you money!!!!
It is also super nice to have access to a gym! If you are easily able to fit in a workout while away and you want to do so, it is nice to have this at the place you are staying! Moving your body while on vacation through a strength session can feel so good- it can help with digestion, energy, and mood! We often get the question of “do I have to work out on vacation”.
Absolutely not, especially if you feel it will detract from your vacation. BUT we do encourage you to move your body daily in some form while on vacation. We will dive into this a bit more later in this guide!
PART 2 – DURING YOUR TRIP!
It’s here ! You’re officially on vacation! So, let’s talk about how to feel your best while on vacation!
How to prioritize your healthy habits
Again, the biggest focus each day is on prioritizing your healthy habits of water, movement, veggies, protein, and 80/20 whole foods. Let’s break this down into each habit!
Bring a water bottle with you on vacation. This starts on travel day- refill it once you are past security (if flying) and bring that guy with you everywhere ! He is your new BFF.
Specific actions to focus on include:
– Having a bottle first thing in the morning when you wake up
– A glass after every alcoholic beverage consumed
– A glass before every meal
– A glass during every activity (ie, you go kayaking, bring a bottle with you and finish one during that activity)
– A glass before bed
Getting in movement while on vacation is such a great way to explore and see new things! Moving your body will also help offset the potential surplus in energy you are taking in through food and potentially alcohol. To learn more about the benefits of movement for our metabolism, read our blog :The Importance of Strength Training and NEAT
Tips to getting in movement:
– Start each day off with a 20-minute walk. Go explore!!
– Go for a 10-minute walk after every meal – this offers digestive benefits as well as benefits for blood sugar regulation
– Set a step goal. If your step goal at home is 10,000, aim to 12-15,000 while away
– If the driving distance is equivalent to less than 20 minutes of walking, walk there instead!
– Complete a strength session- even if it’s modified, this can be so beneficial for muscle, mood, and energy!
Veggies are full of fiber and micronutrients, which, if you aren’t intentional about, can be difficult to come by when traveling! They are also high volume and low calorie, meaning, you can have a TON of veggies, for very low calories! Tips to getting veggies in:
– Build your plate with 1/3 to ½ your plate full of veggies as a guide and/or include 1 fist sized serving at every meal (see images below) These are great tips when eating at a buffer or serve it yourself style venue!
– Ask for veggies as a side when ordering at restaurants instead of fries.
– Have one big salad each day. When ordering a salad at a restaurant, ask for cheese/nuts/sauces/oils to be on the side. These can be very calorie dense, so ordering them on the side will allow you to control how much you consume!
Of note, digestive disturbances is another “side effect” that can happen due to traveling, particularly constipation, gasiness and bloating – the above 3 habits – water, movement, and fiber all contribute to help keep digestion optimized as much as possible while you are away and enjoying your vacation!
Protein is the most satiating macronutrient, meaning, it helps keep us FULL. This is SO helpful when traveling as it is easy to overeat food if protein is low, especially highly palatable ones (like those made at restaurants or processed fast food). Protein also helps with the maintenance/creation of lean muscle tissue and recovery from activities- remember, protein is literally the building blocks of our bodies!!
Tips to getting protein in while traveling:
– Plan ahead and pack protein sources like powder/bars/jerky to bring with you
– Eat at minimum 1 palm sized serving at each meal. If you are a male, aim for 2 palm sized servings.
– Order strategically at fast food places – a lot of places have nutritional info posted online, see which items are high protein! Some go tos- starbucks egg white feta wrap, subway chicken salad or sandwich, Wendys salad, A&W teen burger on a lettuce wrap. If there is not nutrition information online for your particular meal, you can pick a similar meal from a chain restaurant in its place (it’s not going to be completely accurate, but it is a good estimate! Ex: you have pizza from a local pizza place, track from boston pizza, pizza hut, etc.)
– When ordering out, base your meal around a protein source!
Lean protein sources include: white fish, chicken breast, shrimp, scallops, lobster, tuna, egg whites.
Fattier protein sources include :whole eggs, red meat, salmon, chicken thigh – often meals made at restaurants are cooked with lots of oil, so fat intake will likely be higher than a dish prepared at home (this is something to be aware of, especially if you are tracking)
– Ask for double protein. Example- if you are ordering a salad at a restaurant, ask for double grilled chicken breast
– Use the build a plate method (pictured above) – 1/3- ¼ of your plate should be protein!
We strongly believe in an 80/20 approach to whole foods. To read more about this, read our blog here:Our Whole Foods Approach
But to summarize, 80/20 whole foods will allow you to better listen to your hunger and fullness cues, eat at a calorie level that is in alignment with your body’s needs, and it will ensure you are eating adequate nutrients to support your body!
Tips to eating 80/20:
– Reach your veggie and protein goals by using the build a plate method or hand portion guide
– Eat carbs and fats to satiation. As a guide, a serving of carbs is about 1 cupped handful, a serving of fats about 1 thumb sized amount
– Ask yourself “what treat do I actually want to say yes to” and then CHOOSE that one. For example, if you have a whole foods meal, and you want to add a treat, and your choices are either alcohol or a piece of cake, ask yourself which one you actually want, and enjoy that!
– You can also look at 80/20 in terms of your day- if you know you want a more indulgent dinner, have a more whole foods breakfast and lunch focusing on veggies and protein. Example: egg white omelette with veggies and a side of fruit for breakfast, and for lunch a chicken salad.
– Focus on eating whole foods from this list majority of the time
– Share treats- ie, if you choose the piece of cake, share it with your partner or friend!
– Ask yourself “visually, is 80% of this meal whole foods?”
There will be things outside of your control. You will not “perfectly” fulfill your habits all of the time, and that is okay. What matters most is that you are CONSISTENT and intentional in honoring your body! Again, this adds to your experience and your memory of this vacation!
Honoring Hunger and Fullness
Remember, only YOU know what feels good to you and your body, including when it is telling you that you are full. Here are our tips for honoring hunger and fullness:
Practice mindful eating:
- Do not go into a meal overly hungry. This will increase odds that you will over-eat. Start eating when you are 3-4/10 hungry, and stop when you are 7-8/10 on the fullness scale or until “satisfied”
- SLOW down- put your fork down between bites, converse with company, chew your food thoroughly -this is the first step in the digestive process, and will give your body time to register that you are full
- Think of yourself as a food critic– how does the food taste? What are its textures? Are you continuing to enjoy it, or are you less satisfied and is it time to stop eating?
- Think about how the food makes you FEEL. If something makes you feel lethargic, bloated, gives you abdominal pain, diarrhea, or constipation, then it probably isnt “worth” eating to make you feel poorly later.
- You may not be in control of what is served, but you can control what you consume.
- Share food with someone else, have half a piece, or say “No thank you” if you do not want to have something. You can also always get food packed up and bring it home with you!
- If people make comments on what you consume, kindly redirect the statement. For example if someone says “You are only eating that much?” respond with “I am working on being more in-tune with my hunger signals, if I am still hungry I will grab more, thank you!”.
Let’s talk about HUNGER
What are some signs of hunger?
– Stomach Growling
– Feeling of “emptiness” in stomach
– Low Energy
– Irritability ie. “hangry” or feeling shaky
– Feeling faint, light headed, or having a headache
– Other things to note when seeing if you are physically hungry: Physical hunger comes on Gradually and you are open to options- if you are only “hungry” for one thing, this is likely a craving.
Let’s talk about COMFORTABLY FULL OR SATISFIED. This feels like…
– Feelings of warmth in body
– Able to comfortably deep breathe after eating
– Less food focus, food is less appealing/satisfying
Remember, there is a delay from when we start to feel full until total contentment sets in, this is why we encourage you to eat slow, and stop eating at around 8/10 full! This will help you not become overly full.
OVERLY FULL feels like:
– Feeling uncomfortable or “stuffed”
– Having to undue pants or feeling bloated
– Feeling like you “need to lay down” after eating
With intuitive eating, eating 80/20 whole foods is VERY important. Remember, whole foods allow us to naturally honor our hunger and fullness cues! Highly palatable treat foods are easier to over-eat, so building your plate with nourishing whole foods will ensure you are physically satisfied, and then adding in a “sprinkling” of treats for psychological satisfaction.
Other things to consider during your trip:
There are a few key questions we encourage clients to ask themselves while they are traveling to enhance making memories and also honoring one’s body! We find asking these questions will allow you to be mindful of the healthy habits described above and will allow you to make the CHOICE that aligns best with your goals! Before every choice, pause, and ask yourself these questions:
– Will this add to my experience?
For example, is this a cultural food that is important to the area you are traveling to? As an example – would I normally eat three different types of fried chicken? No. Will I have three smaller servings of different fried chicken while I am doing a food tour in Nashville? Yes.
– How will this make me feel?
Again, this is part of mindful eating!!
– Do I actually want this?
We are ALL about the power of choice and taking a moment to ask yourself this will allow you to make an informed choice rather than just “going with the flow” or doing what everyone else is doing.
– How can I make this meal more nourishing?
Refer to the build a plate images above- what can I add to this meal to make it more nourishing? Ie, more colors, more micros, more satisfaction! Focusing on adding rather than elimination also is powerful for our mindset around how we view food too (:
– Does this align with my long-term goals and who I want to become?
Every choice has a trade-off and pausing to ask this allows you to see whether the trade-off you are making is something you are okay with accepting.
PART 3 – WHEN YOU GET HOME
You just got home from your vacay- I hope you had the best time!! So, what now?
A little note on the scale…
We know a LOT of people struggle with their relationship with the scale. Often, this is because they don’t understand the data that the scale is providing them. The scale does NOT dictate body fat percentage, it does NOT tell you how lean you are, and it does NOT dictate your worth as a person. All the scale shows us is a person’s weight, which… “ the weight of an object (or person) is the force acting on the object due to gravity”. That is it! This number is impacted by a lot of things, checkout this image to learn more:
So, if you know you struggle with the scale, here are a few things to consider:
– Not weighing yourself for 3-4 days once you return to home. This will allow your body time to adapt from travel, extra salt, extra carbs, and will reflect a more accurate representation of current weight.
– Weigh yourself daily. Our weight fluctuates a LOT. Weighing yourself daily can help you see a trend in your weight, which is what matters more than day to day fluctuations.
– Before you step on the scale post vacay, ask yourself “would I change any of the memories I made based on this data?”. If you honored your body using the tips we described above, and you made incredible memories, I would guess the answer would be “NO!”. So, remember this when you step on the scale!
Ultimately, what matters most in determining body composition, health, and longevity is what you do CONSISTENTLY. If you think of vacation, say you go on vacation 3 weeks of the year, that is 21 days of the year, or 5.7% of the year. Let’s repeat that… that is 5.7% of the year!!! We aim for clients to be 85-90% consistent in order to make progress towards their goals. While we don’t recommend throwing caution to the wind and eating like an a$$hole during your trip (mostly because you will feel like trash), we do want to put this into perspective. Consistency > perfection.
Getting back into routine:
This is part of that consistency piece mentioned above. Now that you are home, just get back into routine! If you were tracking your macros before you left, get back into that! If you were going to the gym Monday, Wednesday, Friday, get back into that! It might feel a bit “harder” and motivation might be a bit lower the first few days, and that is okay! This is when we want to rely on discipline and recognize that we are doing what serves our long-term goals, and over time, this will become second nature again as it was before you left!
Some things that can help with getting back into routine include:
-scheduling out your week (schedule in workouts, family commitments, time for meal prepping)
-reflecting on memories made, and how this adds to the “why” behind your goals. Read our blog on finding the “why” behind your goals here –
– Making your goals more convenient. For example- if you want to resume meal prepping, try using a grocery delivery service and have it set to be ready for when you get home, this will mean one less step in prepping as you’ve eliminated the shopping! Another example would be pre-tracking your food for the next day in my fitness pal- this will ensure you hit the next day’s goals!
Ultimately, what matters most on vacation is enhancing your quality of life and making memories! We have found that leaning into healthy habits allows our clients to feel their best while on vacation, reduces stress around choices, and allows them to be more present in the things that are important to them. We truly hope this blog helps you achieve this! If you find you are struggling with your relationship with food, the scale, and your body, it may be time to hire a nutrition coach to guide you! We want to guide you to making nutrition a part of your lifestyle, as this is what creates true food freedom and empowerment! If nutrition coaching is something you are interested in, please click the link below to book a free consult call to talk with a YQL nutrition coach about your unique goals!
All the love,
The YQL Nutrition Team