Minimize travel weight gain

by Khushboo on March 21, 2016

Hey guys! I’m back from super quick trip to visit my sister, brother-in-law & nephew in China, with a night in Hong Kong thrown in.  Especially given that so many sites are banned in China (Gmail included gah), work definitely took more of a backseat than I would’ve liked. Luckily I managed to catch up on a huge chunk of stuff over the weekend.

Guangzhou Four Seasons View

Guangzhou from 70 floors up!

A common query I get from my clients is something along the lines of ‘How do you stay on track while travelling?’ Or in other words, how do I manage to avoid weight gain when I’m away.  I recently touched on my approach to food during holidays after my trip to Florence but thought I’d address it further.  While I don’t follow any specific diet strategies when travelling, I’ve noticed a few trends that help minimize travel weight gain:

  • I’m picky about my indulgences: I don’t count calories but I’m certainly aware of what I eat and make sure it’s worth it. Since foods like deep-fried spring rolls, overly rich desserts & sugary drinks like Coke hold no appeal to me, I rather avoid them and save room for the good stuff…like a good-quality burger, authentic dim sum, freshly made sponge cake, ice cream & wood-fired pizza. 

Dim Sum

  • I’ve dismissed the ‘All or nothing’ mentality: While I certainly eat a balanced diet overall, it’s far from perfect…even less so when I travel.  Some days I eat beyond the point of fullness. A few meals don’t contain veggies. Occasionally the ‘healthy’ options on the menu also sound the least appealing.  I don’t go out of my way to ensure my carb source is wholegrain. Rather than beat myself over it & embark on a binge-spree because I’ve “blown” it, I accept I’m human and continue on as normal. One healthy meal can’t make you skinny nor can one overly indulgent meal make you fat- both are a result of repeated actions.

BLT Salad with Waffle Fries & Cornbread 

  • I hydrate…a lot: Especially as it’s easy to forget to drink water when I’m out of routine, I try to make sure I always have some on me. I found myself constantly sipping on herbal teas to stay warm in China & Hong Kong.  Aside from minimizing dehydration, drinking enough water helps me distinguish between actual hunger & dehydration.

Sponge Cake with Chopsticks

  • I listen to my body: Recently I’ve been taking a more intuitive approach to my diet and try to really tune in to what my body is asking for.  Some days that means eating more sugar than normal whereas most days that means filling up on the good stuff.  Cravings are a sign from our bodies that they are missing a nutrient(s).  While it’s not always easy, I’ve started to trust my body enough to know that after a few indulgent meals, it’ll naturally start asking for more basic & nutrient-dense meals.  While I certainly ate my fair share of dumplings, bibimbap, waffle fries and scones during the past week, some meals I also craved lighter fare like egg whites, salads, broth-based dishes & sashimi.

Sashimi Salad

  • I don’t overthink my diet: Like most self-proclaimed foodies, I do a bit of restaurant research before traveling and note down potentials. However there’s a difference between being excited about food and being obsessed.  While trips are definitely the time to have fun with food, I try to also focus on other sources of fun, especially the company that I am in.  Regardless of the source, stress is toxic to the body and can easily slash the benefits of eating a healthy diet…especially when you are constantly stressed about finding “clean” options or making sure you don’t eat too many calories.  .

Bibipbap

And finally:

  • I don’t step on the scales on the day I get back: I recently shared my Huffington Post article on Why The Scales Don’t Always Tell The Truth About Your Weight & this holds even more ground after a holiday.  Between the excess sodium consumed while eating out, indulging in richer fare and water retention associated with high-altitude travel, the number on the scale post-holiday will likely be higher than the day you left.  Fortunately a few days of eating home-cooked, nutrient-dense meals coupled with loading up on H2O and returning to your normal workout routine will almost automatically help normalize your weight & eliminate any bloat you might be feeling. 

How do you minimize weight gain during travel?

What’s your diet like when you travel?

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Pragati // Simple Medicine March 21, 2016 at 9:00 pm

I like to stay places where I have access to a refrigerator. That allows me to shop for staples that keep me on track. I also carry a water bottle everywhere so that I remember to keep drinking. Dehydration while traveling is so common!

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Khushboo March 24, 2016 at 11:38 am

That’s a great idea about staying in a place with a refrigerator, Pragati…even if you just stock up on a couple of staples to tie you over, that’s a start!

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Tara @ Sweat like a Pig March 21, 2016 at 10:23 pm

Seeing as my life sometimes feels like perma-travelling, I can totally agree with you on these points. If I started stressing about and obsessing over food every time I had to face a day of travel, I would be insane. Those waffle fries look amazing!!!

Remind me never to move to China. No Gmail… whaaaaa???

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Khushboo March 24, 2016 at 11:38 am

Haha gah I don’t even want to imagine living in France and having to stress about eating a freakin’ croissant- no bueno!

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Lucie@FitSwissChick March 21, 2016 at 11:46 pm

Love this Khushboo! I usually eat less when I travel, since food isn’t always so easy available. Many places these days have healthy food options and well, CrossFit is pretty much everywhere 🙂
Plus, being stress free like I am when on vacation, I crave less sugary things and other treats.

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Khushboo March 24, 2016 at 11:39 am

I love and really admire you for keeping up with your workouts when travelling, Lucie. You truly exemplify what it means to be passionate about finding a style of workout you actually enjoy doing!!

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Zainab March 21, 2016 at 11:56 pm

This post helps a lot, especially as I’m taking a small vacation in a days time.
I did find it hard to not have Twitter and FB when I was in China ( really?!) but didn’t know about gmail.

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Khushboo March 24, 2016 at 11:39 am

Have a great holiday, Zainab!

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dixya @ food, pleasure, and health March 22, 2016 at 5:12 am

im so with you about being picky about indulgent things. I’m not into soda so i usually stick with water which helps me with my sugar.additionally, listening to body and choosing for quality ingredients always makes me feel full and better 🙂

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Khushboo March 24, 2016 at 11:40 am

Amen! I find myself being so much for satisfied both mentally & physically when I base my diet on quality ingredients!!

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Jen @ Chase the Red Grape March 22, 2016 at 8:10 am

When I am travelling I am usually doing so much walking that I have to remind myself to actually eat more to fuel/ refuel! Sometimes it’s important to remeber how much you can actually walk when on holiday!
Hydrating is such a good tip and so important! It would be my number one too!

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Khushboo March 24, 2016 at 11:40 am

Absolutely- just because you’re not formally working out and going to a gym on holiday, it doesn’t mean you aren’t exercising!!

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Meghan@CleanEatsFastFeets March 23, 2016 at 3:34 pm

I don’t really think about weight loss or gain when I’m traveling. I tend to probably eat a little more indulgently though or drink more often, but I’m usually working out or walking more, or in general I’m just less stress so it all works out somehow. Besides I’m on vacation to have a great time, not worry about food. It doesn’t hurt either that I love to eat my fruits and veggies. 🙂

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Khushboo March 24, 2016 at 11:41 am

Absolutely agree Meg! There’s so much more to a holiday than stressing about food options!!

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