You want to come home from vacation with souvenirs and memories—not extra inches around your stomach. Still, sixty-one percent of Americans gain weight on vacation, according to a University of Georgia study earlier this year. The average is everywhere from one to seven pounds—but any number of extra lbs in just one week is too many when you’ve worked so hard for your rock hard vacation body.
The culprit: Drinking and eating your way through a new city or poolside. But you don’t have to forgo the culinary culture just to keep your diet on track. You just need to have a plan. “The number one way I see clients lose ground while on vacation is by flying by the seat of their pants with no plan, or just a blanket assumption that they will be able to eat and exercise normally while they’re away,” says British Columbia-based nutritionist Michelle Shepherd, R.D., founder of Westcoast Nutrition.
Why shouldn’t you just press pause and live it up while away? Snacking healthy can actually improve your experience. “You’ll have more energy and feel better on vacation, and won’t get pulled too far behind for when you get back,” Shepherd adds.
Here are 12 tips to keep your vacation from derailing your diet.