Healthy (ish) Eating on Vacation

Healthy (ish) Eating on Vacation

My family recently took a vacation from Kentucky to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. We enjoyed building sandcastles on the beach, hanging out with family, swimming in a pool, and of course enjoying food we don't normally eat. Here are 8 tips from things I've learned.

 my kids building sandcastles with daddy and uncle

 my kids building sandcastles with daddy and uncle

8 tips for a Healthier Trip:

1. Bring some healthy food from home. We drove to Hilton Head Island and it ended up taking about 12 hours to get there. I knew I wouldn't be able to keep food cold on the drive so I opted for shelf stable food. I brought some "healthy" food, and some "healthier" treats (as in healthier than what we would buy at gas stations along the way).      

Healthy (ish) food I brought from home:

Other foods that would have been good or even better:

  • Jason almond butter pouches with crackers or even a jar of peanut butter with crackers or whole apples
  • Grapes, raisins, bananas, or other fruit that doesn't require refrigeration
  • Trail Mix or nuts and dried fruit
  • Dark Chocolate (at least 70% cocoa)
  • Lara or Kind bars
  • Homemade Muffins

2. Choose "healthier" junk food. Let's face it when you are on vacation you are likely to eat junk food. You can try to choose a bit better for you junk food. My recommendations are keep the ingredient list short (at least less than 10 ingredients, less than 5 is even better). Avoid artificial colors (anything with a number), artificial flavors, and high fructose corn syrup.

 For example, choose plain Lays potato chips or Frito's over Doritos and Cheetos. 

Ingredients for Lays Classic Potato Chips: Potatoes, vegetable oil (sunflower, corn, and/or canola oil), and salt. [yes, these are fried, the oils are refined, and probably have GMO's but they only have 3 ingredients with no artificial color or flavor and no MSG so they are still a better option.]




Ingredient lists are from on 7/7/2015.

Ingredients for Doritos Nacho Cheese flavor: Corn, vegetable oil (sunflower, canola, and/or corn oil), maltodextrin (made from corn), salt, cheddar cheese (milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzymes), whey, monosodium glutamate, buttermilk, romano cheese (part-skim cow's milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzymes), whey protein concentrate, onion powder, corn flour, natural and artificial flavor, dextrose, tomato powder, lactose, spices, artificial color (including Yellow 6, Yellow 5, and Red 40), lactic acid, citric acid, sugar, garlic powder, skim milk, red and green bell pepper, disodium inosinate and disodium guanylate. 


3. Plan your meals. We traveled with my husband's parents, my husband's brother and his wife, and our three children. The large group and three small children meant we needed to limit dining out. We stayed in a unit with a full kitchen so we had breakfast and lunch each day "at home" and we divided up dinner responsibilities. Here's how dinner's broke down for us:

On Saturday we ate out as soon as we got there. There was a long wait and the kids (and their mom) were irritable.  It might have been a better idea to order pizza, but the local seafood was great! 

On Sunday the ladies grilled tenderloin and zucchini, and heated frozen macaroni and cheese. We had chocolate cake and ice cream for dessert.



On Monday we had a Italian Mafia themed Mystery Dinner Game. My husband and I made spaghetti and meatballs, Ceasar salad, garlic bread, and served cheesecake for dessert.   

My husband and I all dressed up in costume for the mystery dinner game.

My husband and I all dressed up in costume for the mystery dinner game.

On Tuesday my brother-in-law and sister-in-law made pork and/or ground beef nachos over sweet potato chips. We made ice cream and cookie sandwiches for dessert. 


Image courtesy of Larry Sills


On Wednesday the guys made low country seafood boil which has become a tradition of sorts.  They have a lot of fun putting it together and is a lot cheaper than ordering it at a restaurant too.


On Thursday my mother-in-law and father-in-law made bacon wrapped chicken, rice, and mandarin orange salad. We ate ice cream bars for dessert. 

Friday night was leftovers.

4. Grocery shop early in your trip. Also, buy food pre - grated, chopped or cut (carrots grated, onions chopped, fruit cut up) and spend some time early in the week preparing your other foods so they are ready to go.

We spent the mornings at the beach with a short stop at the pool before coming back for a quick lunch. We needed lunch food ready to go. We also packed snacks - often store bought individual bags of chips and cookies. Having healthier food ready to go would have made healthier snack packing easier. Fruit or vegetables in individual Ziploc bags would have worked better when trying to juggle tired, hungry and sandy kids and still provide a nutritious lunch that they would eat. I found myself not wanting to spend the time to prepare healthier foods preferring to relax instead. Spending the time up front early in the week would have served me better. We did bring the apple sauce and fruit pouches for the kids, which worked well. 

5. Avoid mindless munching and enjoy the food you rarely eat. Being mindful of what you are eating will allow you to enjoy the foods you really want without getting too full or uncomfortable. Planning meals and snacks will help you be more intentional, giving your stomach room to fully enjoy the great meals later on.

6. Stay hydrated. Warm weather, distractions, and alcohol can all be reasons you don't drink enough water possibly leading to dehydration. Staying hydrated will keep you feeling great to enjoy your trip. In general adults need about a half ounce of fluid per pound of body weight and children need about 1 ounce per pound of body weight every day.  And consider, if you are at a hot beach and may need even more water to prevent dehydration.  

Quick tips for staying hydrated:

  • Remember alcohol and caffeine are dehydrating.
  • Focus on water over juice or other sweetened beverages.
  • Add a straw.  People who drink with a straw tend to drink more of their water.
  • Flavor water. Add a slice of lemon, lime, or orange. Add a splash of juice. Freeze fruit and water in ice cube trays for some flavor.  This may make water an acceptable substitute when you want to reach for a Coke.
  • Eat foods with high water content such as watermelon or smoothies.
  • Keep water bottles handy. Here are the ones we brought to the beach

7. Move. Get in some movement to keep your body feeling great. Here are some ideas:

  • Go for a walk on the beach
  • Build sandcastles
  • Play with a beach ball or Frisbee
  • Go for a run
  • Rent a bike
  • Find a beach yoga class.  There was one near our beach every morning.
  • Visit a local gym or workout facility
  • Go for a family walk
  • Find a shopping center to walk around if it rains

8. Give yourself grace. This is vacation, it won't look like a typical week. Try a few healthy tips and then enjoy your trip, knowing you can get back on track when you return home. Enjoy good food, fun, and fellowship with others and don't stress. Life is great balancing act. Take time to enjoy it!  Take it from me because I did!

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Posted on July 8, 2015 and filed under Lifestyle.