When you hear the word “diet” do you automatically think, “weight loss”? If you are, like so many Americans, struggling to achieve a healthy weight, then consider defining the word diet differently. Diet is defined in the dictionary first as a noun, “the kinds of foods that a person habitually eats”, and only secondary as restrictive or weight-focused.
MY diet is defined as what I usually eat, so I don’t take a vacation from my diet. Instead, when I leave my home, I take my diet with me. I don’t over-indulge in fat or sugar-laden foods…after all; my usual diet has allowed me to maintain my weight over all of these years. When vacationing, I usually enjoy some foods not normally on my menu, but that’s what makes vacations fun! I may be dining out often, and I don’t abandon my diet, and make choices that support my health wherever I happen to be.
My husband and I recently met up with friends not seen for a few months. I congratulated ‘Rebecca’—she’d lost at least 20 pounds and looked wonderful. In a matter-of-fact tone, she related that yes, her success was due to her following a “diet” that had worked for her in the past—she’d lost the weight before but regained it. She said, “I know what to do—I just have to do it.”
She banished fast food from her diet and replaced her daily drive-thru with homemade lunch and water instead of soda. At home, instead of creamy pasta, buttered bread and creamy salad dressings—she cooked grilled salmon or chicken breast, replaced sauces with salsa and bought low calorie dressing for salads. She walked daily on her treadmill for 30 minutes while watching television, and worked out with a resistance band DVD three times a week. Her new lifestyle was a success!
But over the course of the weekend, I noticed that her ordering didn’t reflect what she’d said was her new healthy diet. She ordered a cheeseburger and fries for lunch and at dinner finished an oversized pasta dish, full of cheese and sausage. She asked to stop for ice cream in the afternoon—and had dessert after dinner. She had Margaritas at the Mexican restaurant, and beer and wine throughout the weekend.
She didn’t walk, run, or jog once during her visit, and at one point she said to me, “I decided that I wanted to take a vacation from my diet.”
The question is…can you take a vacation from your diet?
I’d much rather enjoy my vacation and not return home carrying extra weight. I’ve heard about folks who bring two sizes of clothes with them on vacation. They are planning on “pigging out” and need larger sized clothes to wear on their way back home. Not me! I may have seconds if I want to, but I won’t overeat to the point of gaining too much weight—because getting rid of all the excess fat isn’t so easy.
My Diet Travels With Me
Instead of abandoning your healthy habits, enjoy your vacations and good health. Take your diet with you wherever you go, and you won’t return home with unwanted pounds. Some suggestions include:
Breakfast & Brunch: I find that I can overeat or choose richer foods for dinner as long as I continue to make breakfast healthy. Hot or cold (low sugar) cereal with nonfat or 1% milk, fruit, and maybe a low fat or nonfat cup of yogurt. Egg-white omelets with lots of veggies (a little cheese is what makes it a treat), poached eggs, whole grain toast and fruit are a good bet. Pancakes, waffles, and French toast are often vehicles for fat and sugar.
Lunch: Regardless of what I order, I don’t add unhealthy fats to my food, and just replacing mayo with mustard saves hundreds of calories over time. Grilled fish or chicken over salad is always a healthy choice.
Dinner: Think grilled, baked, broiled, seared. Share a pasta or risotto dish, or order two appetizers, or a salad and appetizer instead of a full entrée; restaurant portions are notoriously large.
Desserts: If I’m in the mood for dessert, I may seek out something. A good strategy: ask yourself, is it special? And it’s always best to share. Safe travels!
Living well means not “going on” a diet, or leaving your healthy life behind while vacationing. Bring your diet and the fun things you do to keep fit along with you. You can take an occasional detour; you can eat a rich dessert or sleep late once in a while. But this is your one and only life. Live it—fully and healthfully—buy that new bathing suit, and don’t forget to pack your walking shoes!
Registered and Licensed Dietitian Susan Burke March is the author of Making Weight Control Second Nature: Living Thin Naturally—a fun and informative book intended to liberate serial dieters and make healthy living and weight control both possible and instinctual over the long term. Her latest project is her new eBook for convenient weight loss, The Common Cent$ Diet for Busy Girls, www.thecommoncentsdiet.com. Susan consults with individuals and companies to create personalized and practical weight management solutions. Email her at Susan@SusanBurkeMarch.com.