By Caroline Young Bearden, MS, RD, LD, RYT
Do you ever come home from vacation and feel like you need a “detox”?
Well, you don’t.
In fact, your kidneys and liver will take care of that for you. But there are some wellness tips and tricks to help you feel great from the time you pack your bags all the way until you’re back home on that work grind.
Fuel Your Mind, Body & Soul.
While food is fuel for your body, it is also nourishment for your soul. Yes -- eating enough fruits, vegetables, whole grains, good fats and lean proteins are crucial to feeling your best and nourishing your body. But “fun foods,” like extra cheesy pizza or this peanut butter dessert, have a place in a balanced diet, too (especially on vacation!). In fact, depriving yourself of a food you love is the opposite of healthy. At best, it will leave you feeling unsatisfied, and at worst, it could lead to disordered eating.
On your vacation, strive for “healthy-ish.” At most meals, try to include produce, protein (peanuts, peanut butter, beans, chicken, fish, steak, etc.), grains (rice, pasta, bread, etc.) and fats (cheese, avocado, peanuts, peanut butter, etc.), to keep yourself feeling satisfied and energized. Most importantly, tune into your body’s signals – eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re starting to feel full (use the hunger scale if it helps). You can strike a balance between eating nutrient-dense foods to keep your body and mind feeling great, and enjoy some treats along the way. The key is to eat in a mindful way with gratitude for the nourishing and (hopefully) delicious food on your plate. There is emerging evidence that mindful eating can be an effective way to maintain a healthy weight.
Food can serve as a connector between people from different backgrounds and add to the adventure of a vacation. Whether you’re road-tripping to the next state over or on a grand European tour, try the local cuisine and see what it’s all about. Chances are, you’ll learn something about another place and culture, discover new flavors you love and maybe even get inspired to mix things up in your own kitchen.
Pack a Snack.
Before you head out on your trip, be sure to throw some nutrient-dense snacks in your bag. It’ll save you the trouble (and money) of trying to find something at the airport or gas station, and keep you energized so you don’t arrive famished to your destination.
And once you’re there, keep a snack or two with you as you’re exploring (or laying on the beach!) to stay energized and avoid becoming “hangry”. You’ll also be less likely to overeat at your next meal when you don’t come to the table ravenous.
Pair a carb., like dried fruit or crackers, with a protein or fat like peanuts or peanut butter, and you’ve got yourself an energizing, complete snack! Learn more about healthy snacking, and find more simple and delish snack ideas here.
Love to hike, swim, bike or run? Maybe you’re more into walks or yoga. Regardless of your activity level, incorporate some movement into your trip that feels good. Getting just a little bit of exercise will boost your mood and energy. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t sleep in or veg out (this is vacation!). But you can blend it into your day instead of stressing to carve out time to fit it in. Research what activities the locals love to do and where they go to do it. Or get a little lost on a walk around the town or city – Let it be part of the adventure.
If you don’t get enough H20, you can start to feel tired and grumpy – not a great state of mind for vacation (or anytime). Bring a water bottle with you and re-fill it throughout the day. Also, watch your booze intake. No one wants a nasty hangover when you’re trying to enjoy some well-deserved time off. If you drink, savor your drinks, sip water or club soda in between, and try to stick to one or two servings per day. That’s 12 oz. of beer, 5 oz. of wine or 1.5 oz. of vodka for each serving, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Just like, dehydration, lack of sleep will make you tired, grouchy, anxious and feeling straight-up weird – another mental state you obviously want to avoid. Most people need around 7 to 8 hours per night. Go ahead and stay up late if you want, but make sure you catch those zzz’s, whether you sleep in or take a cat nap the next day. 
Keep in mind: These tips are valid for everyday life as well. When you consistently give your body what it needs, including a balanced and satisfying diet, invigorating movement and proper hydration, you will have less of a desire to go to extremes on vacay. Also, may not feel like that detox when you return home, since you’ll be rejuvenated and feeling fabulous.
 Snacks for Adults. Medline Plus. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000338.htm. Reviewed August 14, 2016. Accessed April 5, 2017.
 The Benefits of Physical Activity. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/pa-health/.
Updated June 24, 2015. Accessed April 5, 2017.
 The Importance of Hydration. Texas Health and Human Services. https://hhs.texas.gov/sites/hhs/files//documents/services/health/other/importance-of-hydration.pdf.
Accessed April 5, 2017.
Updated September 3, 2015. Accessed April 5, 2017.
 How Much Sleep Is Enough? - NHLBI, NIH. U.S National Library of Medicine. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sdd/howmuch. Accessed October 13, 2016.