Being on vacation lets you escape from reality—especially on an all-inclusive trip, when all your meals and drinks are paid for in advance. But when you return home after a week or two of all-you-can-eat buffets, you may not be too pleased to see that the number on your scale has crept up a few notches.
To avoid packing on pounds during your getaway, it’s important to remind yourself before you leave that just because you can eat everything in sight doesn’t mean you should, says Marisa Moore, RDN, an Atlanta-based dietitian. And using the excuse that you have no control over your vacation diet doesn’t hold up, either—no one is forcing you to have ice cream for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and most buffets are packed with plenty of healthy options. “You just have to make the decision to choose them,” Moore says.
Your diet probably won’t be perfect while you’re away—it’s a vacation, after all. But with so many delicious dishes available, you won’t feel deprived if you steer yourself away from the following four foods, which are high in calories and sugar and totally devoid of nutrients.
Pancakes and waffles
Your first temptation of the day: the sweet smell of pancakes and waffles at the breakfast buffet.
As tasty as they may be, these fluffy carbs won’t get you with the nutrients you need to fuel your morning. Unless they’re whole grain (and they probably are not), you’re just downing refined carbs, plus a ton of extra sugar and calories, says Moore. Instead, head straight for the omelete station, where you can pile on those fiber-packed veggies.
Step away from the soft-serve machine. “Ice cream is perfectly fine as a treat now and again, but if you’re having it every night you’re more than likely going to bring back a little bit more than dirty laundry from your vacation,” Moore says.
As an alternative, Moore suggests naturally sweet fresh fruit. It boasts the perfect trifecta: it satisfies your sugar cravings, doesn’t fill you with empty calories, and adds extra fiber and nutrition to your diet. Now that’s sweet!
It’s classic health advice: don’t fill up on bread. “Dinner rolls are just refined carbohydrates, giving us extra calories and not a whole lot of nutrition,” says Moore. She recommends staying away from the white dinner rolls entirely, since those carby indulgences are typically difficult to stop eating once you start. And if you do opt for some bread, try to find a whole wheat roll instead, and skip the butter.
One 8-ounce piña colada racks up about 500 calories, and a 12-ounce daiquiri sets you back around 670. And as Moore points out: “Usually frozen drinks are larger than 12 ounces at these resorts. They’re monstrous!” Don’t lie to yourself: a splish splash at the swim-up bar isn’t going to counter the excess calorie consumption (and the alcohol probably won’t encourage you to get up from your lounge chair either).
If you’re going to drink, Moore recommends a margarita on the rocks, wine, or a wine spritzer. As a general rule: The simpler, the better.