Vacation is basically a constant countdown to the next meal. Sure, you want to be free to treat yourself during these few precious days of relaxation, but going overboard at every meal could throw your regular diet way off track.
One easy time to focus on your health? Breakfast. Pick nutritious choices at your hotel’s continental spread, and you can indulge later in the day without the guilt. After all, you’re way more likely to miss that hand-churned ice cream on the boardwalk than those Froot Loops at breakfast. Plus, a healthy meal means no sugar crash, so you’ll be able to keep up with your kids’ high energy instead of begging for a nap before lunchtime.
The ideal breakfast should contain fiber, protein, and healthy fats, says dietitian and culinary specialist Sara Haas, RDN, LDN, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Not only will those three fill you up—and keep you full—but keeping them in mind is an almost effortless way to pack in nutrients. “When you get that trio, you’re likely getting them from a variety of sources, which means you’ll be getting an array of other good-for-you nutrients too,” she says.
Rule of thumb: Aim for a whole grain, a protein source, and some fruit from the continental breakfast. Dietitian Caroline Passerrello, MS, RDN, LDN, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, recommends oatmeal (sweetened with peanut butter), a hard-boiled egg, and banana, plus grabbing a yogurt to eat later. A cup of oatmeal has four grams of fiber, while the peanut butter, egg, and yogurt all pack in protein. The banana rounds out your meal with nutrients like vitamins B6 and C. “I would not necessarily have this combination at home because it would be a lot of preparation, but I love that the hotel staff has taken the prep work out of it for me,” says Passerrello. Or, try some of these food hacks for a healthy breakfast.
If you aren’t a fan of oatmeal, top a whole grain bagel or toast with peanut butter and fruit, or have it with a hard-boiled egg and fruit on the side, says Haas.
Just be careful while you’re stacking your plate—sweet cereals and pastries aren’t the only big sugar sources from a continental breakfast. A flavored oatmeal packet or fruity yogurt has about 12 to 18 grams of sugar; a doughnut has a mere ten grams. If available, stick with plain yogurt and unsweetened oatmeal instead. “I like to be the one adding the sugar,” says Haas. “That puts me in control of how much (if any) goes in there.” Sweeten it up with fresh fruit instead of brown sugar or honey—and keep in mind these breakfast foods you should be skipping, too.
Skip the OJ and eat a whole orange to get in more nutrients, says Haas. No need to give up your coffee fix, though, says Passerrello. Just keep it simple. “Keep the drinks close to what you do at home,” she says. “Don’t be tempted by items you don’t typically keep around.” Flavored creamers are tempting, but add more than one and the calories can add up fast. Use a coffee hack to make your morning pick-me-up healthier instead.