Gluttonous getaways lead to weight gain
Enjoying a daily breakfast buffet or a few margaritas by the pool may seem appropriate during summer vacation, but new research reports those indulgences can translate into a pound or more of extra weight when you return home.
“Vacations provide a great time to relax and reconnect with family and friends,” says Elizabeth Zawila, registered dietitian at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital’s Health and Wellness Center in Downers Grove, Ill. “However, it’s quite common for travelers to disregard their healthy eating habits while on the road and regret their food choices when they return home.”
In fact, a new study from the University of Georgia’s College of Family and Consumer Sciences found that people tend to gain up to seven pounds during their vacations.
As Americans continue to struggle with rising obesity rates, researchers are concerned with the study’s results.
“If you’re only gaining a pound or two a year, and you gained three-quarters of that on a one- to three-week’s vacation, that’s a pretty substantial weight gain during a short period of time,” said Jamie Cooper, associate professor in the college’s department of foods and nutrition, in a press release.
The study involved 122 adults between the ages of 18 and 65 who went on vacations ranging from one to three weeks in length between March and August. Study participants’ height, weight, body mass index, blood pressure and waist-to-hit radio measurements were taken one week prior to vacation and then one week and six weeks after the trip.
A total of 61 percent of participants gained on average 0.7 pounds, which increased to 0.9 pounds throughout the entire study. While some participants lost weight, others gained as much as seven pounds, even though participants reported being more physically active while on vacation. On the flip side, that physical activity decreased when they returned home.
“One of the challenges people face is that unless you’re diligent about weighing yourself before and after vacation, usually you’re not going to notice a pound of weight gain,” said Cooper. “People don’t realize it’s happening, and that’s why they don’t lose weight following a vacation.”
While it’s natural to splurge on an extra glass of wine or even dessert while traveling, Zawila says it’s still possible to eat healthy and not sabotage your entire diet.She suggests the following tips to stay on track during a trip:
- Start the day with a healthy breakfast of instant oatmeal or Greek yogurt with a piece of fruit.
- Pack healthy lunches and snacks, such as fresh fruit, pre-cut vegetables, nuts, trail mix, low-fat cheese and sandwiches.
- Go easy on alcoholic and sugary drinks.
- Allow yourself one indulgent item a day, but be mindful of portions.
- Stay active by taking the scenic route to your destination. Walk, ride bikes or go paddle boarding.
- Drink more water to replenish the fluids you lose by being more active.
- Pay attention to your activity levels if you can’t work out during vacation.
- Get back on track with your healthy routine immediately after returning home.
About the Author
Johnna Kelly, healthe news contributor, is a manager of public affairs and marketing at Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove. She is a former newspaper reporter and spent nearly 10 years as a public relations professional working for state and county government. During her time as a communications staffer for the Illinois General Assembly, she was integral in drafting and passing legislation creating Andrea's Law, the nation's first murderer registry. In her spare time, she volunteers at a local homeless shelter, enjoys traveling, photography and watching the Chicago Bulls.