Ask Amelia Nutrition

7 Steps to Getting Back on Track After Vacation

vacation weight gain

This is a question I get a lot:

I just returned from a weekend away that involved a lot of (over)indulging in delish food.  It was fun while it lasted but now I’m craving my routine of (mostly) healthy food.  I’m tempted to do some kind of “cleanse” to get me back on track but am hesitant because it doesn’t sound like much fun, not to mention that most real medical professionals discourage such extremes.  What steps do you take to get yourself back into your healthy routine after “vacation eating?”

I know just how you feel!  Here’s what I do, and what I’d recommend to get back to feeling your best.  (I guess you could call this a healthy, non-extreme “cleanse”).

  1. Cut back on sweets, processed snacks, and meat. You could even give these foods up for two weeks, to allow your body to readjust to a new healthy routine, and to reduce cravings.  Just don’t plan to give these up completely forever–it won’t last.
  2. Eliminate alcohol for awhile, or reduce to 1-2 drinks per weekend, and no alcohol during the week.
  3. Reduce your reliance on caffeine. If you feel you need a little, have one cup of coffee or tea in the morning, then stick to caffeine-free beverages for the rest of the day.  You’ll adjust after a week or so, and will sleep better and have more natural energy. (I must admit, I am not currently following this advice, thanks to little Lucy!)
  4. Eat more fruits and vegetables. This does not mean add lettuce to your cheeseburger, but rather replace some of what you’re eating now with vegetables.  If you normally have meat, mashed potatoes, and a vegetable for dinner, replace the potatoes with another lower calorie vegetable and choose a leaner meat.
  5. Don’t drink your calories. Stick to water and other calorie-free beverages like sparkling water, herbal tea, iced tea, and the occasional diet soda if you’re craving a treat.
  6. Avoid doing anything extreme. If you give up foods you love completely, you won’t stick to your new plan.  You’ll eventually (probably sooner rather than later) revert to your old habits, and you’ll gain weight back, feel fatigued, get lazy, etc.
  7. Take baby steps. It takes time to make changes that become habits.  From this list, pick something you’ll start with and go from there.  Make mini-goals that are specific and realistic so you don’t feel overwhelmed.  For example: this week I will eat plant-based dinners. Or, this week, I won’t bring any unhealthy foods into my house, to reduce temptation.

These tips are also helpful for getting back on track after indulging in holiday meals and parties, so keep this list handy for these upcoming months!

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  • kari
    October 21, 2011 at 9:32 am

    Thank you for such simple + logical ideas to consider! This will come in handy during the holidays indeed!

  • Kim @ Eat, Live, and Blog
    October 21, 2011 at 9:35 pm

    Those are all wonderful tips! I definitely agree that you you can’t give up all of your favorite food because you would feel so deprived and end up craving it more.

  • Richard
    October 23, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    Great ideas. I just got back from two weeks on the road on business, and there are great ideas in here for getting re-centered in a healthy lifestyle at home. Thanks for your continued one-two-three list approach to how to bring health and wellness into one’s life.

  • Amelia
    October 23, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    Thanks, Richard! Glad you find these helpful.

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