Summer time and the living is easy! And it should be. Many of us look forward to this time of year, once school is out and the days are longer, to kick back and relax and try to be a little less “structured” with our time.

Whether you’re headed to the beach, traveling abroad, or just hanging out in your own backyard, chances are you’re taking some time during the summer months to vacation.

For many people, being in “vacation mode” includes indulging in the moment and not giving much thought to the consequences.

While it’s certainly ok to give in to food temptations once in a while, make sure that while you rid yourself of some of your everyday stresses, you don’t add on extra pounds in the process.

Here are 5 simple tips on how to return from vacation minus the “extra baggage”!

  • You’ve heard this one before: set the stage for the day and eat a healthy breakfast. If you’re traveling and staying at a hotel, forgo the high calorie breakfast buffet with bagels, pancakes, and chocolate filled croissants. Instead go for a small omelet filled with veggies with a little fruit on the side. If you can, book a room with a kitchenette and prepare breakfast on your own. It will be less expensive and you’ll be less tempted to overindulge.
  • Carry along some healthy snacks, especially if you’re sightseeing or going on an all day excursion. Remember the 3 P’s: plan, pack, protein. There are lots of options out there including protein bars, veggies and hummus, a greek yogurt and some fruit. Having healthy choices available when you feel those hunger pangs is a good way to keep you feeling energized and save some calories for meal time.
  • Go ahead and splurge – after all it is vacation – just keep it to no more than one meal a day (or every other day). Eat healthy the rest of the time and try to let true hunger be your guide.
  • Go easy on alcohol – an all too familiar vacation pitfall! Avoid creamy and sugary drinks – one pina colada can pack as many as 500 calories. Pick skinny drinks – like vodka soda with a wedge of lemon or a wine spritzer. And, if you opt for a cocktail with your meal, skip dessert. Or have that slice of key lime pie you’re craving and forgo the drink for another day.
  • Keep moving – while lounging at poolside with a great book is very relaxing – dive in for a swim from time to time. Walk as much as you can. If you’re staying in a hotel, take the stairs if possible. Do your best to work out early in the day. That way, it’s out of the way and you can enjoy the rest of the day without finding time to fit it in.

Be realistic. Most of us don’t lose weight on vacation!

But packing on several extra pounds doesn’t have to be an inevitable consequence of a fun-filled summer get-away. Be mindful of your food choices and portions, add in some exercise, and you’ll feel great during your vacation and even better when you return!