by AMY MAGNUSON, M.D.; Scripps Health Coastal Medical Center, Vista

Eight Tips to Healthy Eating on Vacation

adv_scripps-magnusonVacations are about getting away from it all and trying new things, including the local cuisine. While experiencing the tastes of your vacation spot is fun, you want to ward off bringing extra pounds back home. These eight tips can help you eat healthy while seeing the sights, so you return with memories, not extra weight.

1. Bring your own snacks.
Pack travel-friendly nibbles for the plane or car ride, such as pretzels, cheese sticks, packets of nut butter, or cut-up veggies with hummus.

2. Avoid the mini-bar.
That little refrigerator in your hotel is filled with snacks and drinks loaded with sugar and salt. Instead of raiding the mini-bar, pick up snacks at the local farmers market or grocery store, and stock your room with easy finger foods, such as fresh fruits, nuts, seeds, and pre-cut vegetables, as well as plenty of water.

3. Eat breakfast.
While vacation schedules vary from your local routine, don’t skip the first meal of the day. If you are staying at a resort, take advantage of the breakfast or brunch buffet and fill up on fruit, salads, and whole grains, such as whole-wheat toast or oatmeal. If going out for breakfast, choose lean protein, such as eggs, and fruit.

4. Splurge once a day.
It’s a vacation, so enjoy special treats. If you are in Paris, you might want a fresh-baked croissant from the bakery around the corner. If you are on a road trip with the kids, you might want to stop at the ice cream stand for a homemade indulgence. Monitor your portions, eat slowly, and savor every bite.

5. Make your own meals.
If you can cook where you are staying, take advantage and try your hand at cooking, especially with local produce and items you might not be able to get at home. Now is the time to try fern shoot salad or Connecticut shad.

6. Try local restaurants.
Ask for directions to favorite spots that serve local products. Explore the regional cuisine and enjoy food prepared traditionally, which usually has fewer processed ingredients. Don’t be shy about ordering a meal to split if you think the portion sizes will be too much for you to eat at one sitting. Alternatively, if you have a refrigerator in your room you can ask for a doggy bag.

7. Walk everywhere.
Strolling through museums, a new city or on the beach is a chance to explore while burning up calories. If a destination is within a mile, walk. Make sure you bring comfortable, supportive shoes and a first-aid kit for any blisters.

8. Stay hydrated.
Dehydration is common when traveling, especially when flying. Bring an empty water bottle to the airport and fill it once you are past the security checkpoint. Stock up on water bottles once you are at your destination and bring a bottle wherever you go.

Most importantly, have fun. Vacations are a time to enjoy yourself with family and friends and explore both new and familiar places.

Amy Magnuson, M.D., is a family medicine doctor at Scripps Coastal Medical Center in Vista. Dr. Magnuson cares for patient of all ages and enjoys helping her patients lead healthy and happy lives.


Looking for a new doctor? To find a Scripps physician near you call 858-914-4732 or visit