How to Travel on a Diet

Everyone loves travel. Not everyone loves the weight gain that can accompany. If you want to avoid coming home with an unplanned 5kg souvenir, read on!

Local Foods

For me, one of the most exciting parts of travel is eating out every day. I love to sample local foods and trying a variety of foods is part of immersing yourself in the culture. Often, local foods are unfamiliar to us (which is part of the fun). Less fun, is having no idea exactly what you are eating, or its approximate energy and nutritional content. The best way to combat the unknown, is to get educated! Do your research. Quickly googling ‘local foods of…’ can be invaluable in gaining an understanding for what you are up against. You can therefore pick and choose if you try the food, once, twice, every day or whatever you please. The key is to know how new foods fit into your daily caloric intake, and adjust your consumption accordingly.


Drinking is a big part of travelling. After all, you’ve worked hard all year, it’s your time to let your hair down. You deserve it. Problem is, alcohol is extremely calorific. Longer holidays, where alcohol is consumed every day are likely to contribute to weight gain, that is often not lost upon arrival back at home. One strategy I suggest is drinking at dinner only. Often, on holidays, people choose to drink at lunch and dinner. By cutting out a few beers at lunch, you can get a better hold of the days total caloric intake. If you’re on a longer holiday, you also might like to consider consuming alcohol every second or third day only. These small changes can help keep the holiday weight off but still allow you to enjoy your time away.

On the Go

On travel days, where you have a 6-hour flight, 2-hour bus transfer and 30 min taxi ride, it is tempting to stop at McDonalds or consume any sort of easy fast food. Finding a nutritious proper meal is low on the priority list. Most people are not aware that you can take food from home when travelling- even on international flights. I’m talking, fruits, vegetables, sandwiches, the lot! This means that you can plan your meals for long haul flights and don’t have to rely on expensive, notoriously bland airplane food. I like to pack some fruit and nuts as snacks and a sandwich when I travel. When you land on the other side, make sure you throw away anything you haven’t eaten as it is illegal to bring food through immigration. You’ve now arrived at your destination fuelled with goodness, ready to start the adventure, the last thing on your mind is a cheap greasy feed. All it takes is a little know how and preparation.

Be in Control

If you can, opt for self-contained accommodation. This gives you more control over what you consume on your travels. You can stock up on fruits, vegetables and healthy meals at the local grocery store and choose to eat in. For example, for breakfast you can stock up on some muesli and yoghurt. This will save money, and your health. You can also pack lunches from your self-contained accommodation if you plan on being out all day. Again, decreasing your reliance on less healthy meal options.

Pick A Meal

Let’s not forget- you’re on holidays. You don’t go half way around the world to eat the same boring sandwiches and fruit you do at home. I like to pick one meal a day where I eat out, and don’t sweat the consequences. This is a good chance to try some unhealthier local food options, experience the culture and enjoy yourself.

Tackling the Buffet

If you are in a cruise setting, you have less control over what food you can eat. In most instances, a buffet is your only option. For some, buffets are a dangerous game, with the overwhelming options too much to handle. For those of you who cannot escape the dreaded buffet, I have a few tips for you!
– Use the bread plate. By using a small sized plate, you are forced to choose sensible portion sizes. This will help keep the overeating at bay.
– Go up for seconds, but not thirds, fourths or fifths! Limit yourself.
– Choose healthier options where possible. Make sure you hit up the salad bar and fill half your plate with it. The other half can be for naughtier ‘holiday’ foods.


Let’s face it, you’re probably not going to keep up your normal gym routine while on holidays (if you do, I commend you!). Do not fear, not all is lost. What people often don’t realise is just how much extra walking and physical activity is done while travelling. Walking around cities and swimming at the beach burns calories. People often fret that they are consuming way too many calories on holidays, without taking into consideration the extra incidental exercise. While it’s important to be mindful of what you are consuming, don’t be too hard on yourself.

Live a Little

Holidays are meant to be fun. If you are experiencing anxiety related to holiday weight gain, it’s a good idea to see a dietitian who can assist you in forming a personalised plan for how you will cope during your time away.

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