WASHINGTON — The summer months are here, which means many people are preparing for vacations. While most return relaxed, many also return with a few extra pounds from all of those vacation drinks and unhealthy foods.
Sally Squires, the writer of the Lean Plate Club™ blog, explained how to avoid gaining weight on vacation while still having a good time.
Squires said that a 2016 study from the University of Georgia weighed 122 people three times: one week before leaving for a vacation of at least one to three weeks in length, immediately when they returned from vacation and again six weeks later. Researchers found that vacationers gained one pound during the vacation on average — and most of the study participants failed to shed that pound by the six-week follow-up weighing.
“It’s a bit like the holiday weight gain that we often talk about. It’s not a ton of weight, but if you don’t take it off it just starts to accumulate, and it really can head you in the wrong direction,” Squires said.
Because of this failure to lose the vacation weight, researchers concluded that the small weight gain can really add up over time.
But people are usually more active on vacation, right? Squires said even though most people do stay more active and that their stress levels tend to decline, most people eat and drink more than normal, which negates the gains from extra movement and relaxation. If you’re not careful, the additional intake can add up in the form of extra pounds, Squires said.
Her advice to avoid weight gain on vacation without feeling like you’re on a strict diet is to stay active, which will help burn some of those extra calories, and to pay a little bit of attention to what you’re eating.
She recommended using a device that tracks your activity or keeps a log of your caloric consumption to help you stay on track.
Squires also said it’s important to keep drinking enough water.
“Since it’s hot, it’s important to stay well-hydrated,” Squires said. “A lot of people mistake thirst for hunger, so they go eat.”
This is also a great opportunity to try new activities and foods that can help you stay healthy.
“What’s so great about summer and fall is we get this cornucopia of fruits and vegetables, and so this is a great time to try those things that you might not ordinarily eat,” Squires said.
She said to make sure you have healthy snacks handy, like nuts, dried fruit or a granola bar. That way, you don’t go to the point when you’re so hungry that you overeat less healthy items.
Since the last thing vacationers want to do is get on a scale, Squires had a tip for making sure you avoid weight gain: Bring a piece of clothing you know fits you well now, and try it on periodically throughout the trip. If you see it’s getting tight, then take an extra walk on the beach or skip dessert.