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August 15, 2017

A Day in the Life of a Dietitian-Volume 5: Vacation Edition



Written By: Kaci Oliver, MS, RD, LDN

It never fails, you are making healthy lifestyle changes- choosing more nutritious foods, preparing more meals at home, limiting alcohol intake, and increasing your physical activity. Then BAM!- a vacation, celebration, or holiday rolls around. Life events can cause challenges when trying to live a healthy lifestyle; however, it is possible to maintain healthy habits during these times. It is important to avoid an “all or nothing” mindset and realize it is ok to indulge in your favorite foods in moderation if you balance it out with higher quality food choices and physical activity.

I recently went on my family’s Fourth of July Beach trip, and I am here to share with you how I strived to maintain healthy lifestyle habits while still indulging a bit, and enjoying vacation with my family.


Saturday, July 1st:


My husband and I left to meet his family at the beach around 11:30 am. That morning, I made sure to sneak in a quick 40-minute work out on the elliptical at my gym before leaving. Since we were leaving around lunchtime, I heated up my leftover Hibachi vegetables from the night before and packed healthy snacks of wasabi peas mixed with nuts and frozen grapes to ward off hunger and avoid eating on the road during the 4-hour trip to the beach. However, even thought I packed healthy snacks, I was unable to resist a few bites of the double ice cream cone my husband purchased at one of our stops. 

 When we arrived at the beach, we unpacked and did our weekly grocery shopping before dinner. My mother-in-law had made her baked ziti, salad and garlic bread for dinner. I made sure to fill my plate up with mainly salad to be satisfied with a smaller portion of ziti and garlic bread. After dinner, I enjoyed a glass of wine and a small piece of my mother-in-law’s famous chocolate cake (can you tell I have a sweet tooth?). I went to bed that night feeling satisfied by my healthy choices and not deprived since I indulged in small portions of my favorite foods.






Sunday, July 2nd:


For breakfast Sunday morning, we heated up a leftover French Toast Casserole that we had kept frozen from our wedding on June 10th. I paired a small portion of the French Toast Casserole (No way I was missing out on that) with a fried egg topped with salsa, one slice of well-done bacon, and a generous portion of cantaloupe. I followed breakfast with a 15-minute, no-equipment needed HIT routine outside in the grass from Tone it up, a website I frequently use for quick, at home workouts (view the workout here: We were all responsible for packing our own lunches for the beach so I opted for Asian salad (cabbage, mango, avocado, sesame dressing) that I had prepare the night before topped with a slice of honey baked turkey my mother-in-law had brought for sandwiches. I also packed plenty of healthy snacks (wasabi/nut mix and fruit) to prevent me from reaching for my nieces’ potato chips and cookies. While on the beach, I made sure to stay hydrated with La Croix flavored sparkling waters and enjoy a Coors Light beer. I spend most of the day playing with my nieces in the water for added physical activity. After returning from the beach, I enjoyed a glass of white wine while waiting for dinner to be prepared. For dinner, I enjoyed 1/2 grilled barbeque chicken breast on a salad with roasted zucchini. I decided to skip the macaroni and cheese my sister-in-law made because I knew I would not be able to resist a piece of chocolate cake for dessert.





Monday, July 3rd:


First thing Monday morning, I went for a 2.5-mile walk/run utilizing nothing but my running shoes and my iPhone health app. Once again proving that you do not need fancy equipment to be physically active on vacation-we have enough to pack anyways, right?! I had to run errands before going on the boat that day so I ate a protein bar (Kirkland brand Quest bar) and cantaloupe on the run.

After returning from my errands, I decided to pack myself half of a turkey sandwich for lunch that day since I could not resist the honey baked turkey lingering in the refrigerator. I settled for white bread instead of whole wheat because it was all that was available, but made sure to load it with lettuce and substituted avocado in place of mayonnaise for a healthier fat. I paired it with cantaloupe for a healthy and refreshing side. 

After a long day on the boat and islands, I enjoyed a dinner appetizer of boiled shrimp with two glasses of white wine. For dinner, we had my favorite meal of grilled flank steak with roasted vegetables. I substituted leftover salad for the mashed potatoes my mother-in-law made so I could splurge on a small piece of cake for dessert. 





I left vacation feeling satisfied without feeling guilty proving that you can indulge a bit on vacation without overdoing it. Aim to choose 1-2 of your favorite treats (i.e. dessert, alcoholic beverages, comfort foods) in small portions while balancing them out with higher quality food choices throughout the day. Focus on making your plate as colorful as possible by incorporating fruits and vegetables into meals and snacks to assist in portion control of the lower quality food choices. Be sure to maintain physical activity throughout the day- every little bit helps! It will not only help prevent unwanted pounds, but will make you feel more energized throughout the day. Finally, keep in mind vacations and holidays are about enjoying time with your friends and family, not just the food and drinks that come with them!


Kaci Oliver is a registered dietitian working at the Morrisville office. She enjoys cooking, spending days on her boat with her husband and corgi, sipping good wine while listening to live music, cheering on the Wolfpack and traveling.

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