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Bellying up to the buffet?

We’ve all been there. We’ve come home from a luxurious and relaxing week-long vacation and struggled to button up pants that fit just fine a month ago. We pray that they just shrunk in the wash as we gasp, grunt and struggle to zip up the gaping fly. Then we remember the restaurants, cafes, buffets and mid-day ice cream cones. Horrified, we realize we’ve indulged a little too much on our break away from every day life.

“Some people can overeat [on vacation] and gain about five pounds in a week,” says registered dietician and certified personal trainer Alexis Williams. “You might actually eat 1,000 calories more a day than you’re used to when you’re away.”

It makes sense. Summer vacations are indulgences – and often much-needed ones. You aren’t cooking for yourself, and instead relying on restaurants for your three (or more!) meals a day. Unfortunately (and surprisingly), one restaurant meal can be almost 2000 calories alone. You’re also more likely to snack on rich, high-fat comfort foods like ice cream or fries, which you might avoid when you’re stuck in the daily grind back at home.

“People tend to feel like they can go all out,” said Williams. “They eat more on the go and there’s less planning going into meals, and people who are usually on restrictive diets tend to go more crazy.”

According to Williams, sometimes the travelers who put on the most weight are the ones who count calories most meticulously the rest of the time. For them, a vacation might represent a much-needed break from a rigid diet; so excess calories are consumed like they’ll never be eaten again.

Fortunately, the solution isn’t strapping a calorie counter to your belt and snacking on nothing but iceberg lettuce and celery while fellow travelers indulge in three-egg omelets and link sausage.

“Make sure you incorporate some physical activity,” said Williams. “Also, eat one meal every day that you would eat at home. You can bring your own breakfast to hotels, or pack some healthy snacks like almonds or raisins.”

Other options include being mindful of portions when perusing tempting buffets, filling up on fruits and veggies, and drinking lots of water. Most importantly, she recommends immediately returning to previous healthy eating habits upon return. As hard as that may be, your old jeans will thank you for it.


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