There's no reason to take a vacation from your healthy habits. Whether you're packing a summer read for the beach or a foreign language dictionary for a trip abroad, don't forget to also tuck in your healthy habits.
Are you aware of your habits?
You may be unaware of your behaviors—even the good ones. You may recognize when you're eating better, logging more steps on your fitness tracker and collecting more numbers in your blood sugar log. But you may not see the specific change in your behavior or what makes you behave this way.
Think about what specific behaviors you feel good about. Are you in better control of your dinner portions because you snack on fruit in the afternoon? Perhaps you get extra steps each day because of where you park your car. Maybe you’ve developed the habit of tracking your blood sugar both before breakfast and two hours later.
There's no reason to take a vacation from your good habits
What is a Habit Loop?
Journalist Charles Duhlgg discusses habits in his book, The Power Of Habit. Habits follow a three-part pattern called the habit loop:
1. The cue is something that causes an action or behavior.
2. The routine is the behavior or action caused by the cue.
3. The reward is what you get from doing your routine (behavior or action) that makes you feel good and want to do it again, and again.
For example, your cue to measure your pre-breakfast blood sugar level may be seeing your meter on the kitchen counter. The routine is to wash your hands, measure your blood sugar, and record the number in your log. The rewards are seeing your log fill up and knowing that you've stuck to your goals.
Now, think about the ways you can keep your healthy habits on vacation when your routine is broken. Let's stick with the example of morning blood sugar checks. If you're staying in a place with a kitchen, it may be simple enough to leave your blood sugar meter on the counter – just like you do at home. If not, would tucking your meter into your shoes remind you to measure your blood sugar just as you head out to breakfast? Think about cues for your habits before leaving on your trip.
Fit Travel Tips
Staying healthy when traveling starts with a good plan. Here are 4 more tips you can use.
- Step right up. See as much as you can while away from home in active ways. Try guided and self-guided walking tours. Rent a bicycle and take a ride around town. Ask about parks, botanical gardens, and safe areas to explore. If your hotel offers a gym, try out a machine or a class that you don't have at home.
- Bring nutrition with you. You may be thirstier than usual. Air travel can do that. Stuffy hotels too. Bring a reusable water bottle and fill it often. Pack up some snacks too – fruit, raw veggies and reduced fat cheese are great choices for a travel day.
- Fill in the produce gap. Visiting grocery stores and farmers’ markets when traveling can be a fun way to learn about what locals eat. You can pick up seasonal fruit and even vegetables if you can. If you don’t have access to a refrigerator, ask for an extra ice bucket and keep it filled with ice.
- Keep your meal plan in mind. Delicious, healthful food can be found nearly everywhere. Before picking restaurants or visiting grocery stores, remind yourself that maintaining your eating routine really does matter. If you carb count or use a plate method, continue!
Remember - always talk with your doctor before making any changes to your diet and exercise routine.
Cheers to happy, healthy traveling!
Jill Weisenberger, MS, RDN, CDCES*, FAND, is the author of Diabetes Weight Loss Week by Week, The Overworked Person’s Guide to Better Nutrition and 21 Things You Need to Know about Diabetes and Your Heart. She is contributing editor for Environmental Nutrition, and has written for many publications including EatingWell, Diabetic Living, Diabetes Forecast and Kids Eat Right. She has a private practice in Newport News, VA. Weisenberger is a paid contributor for TeamingUp. All opinions contained in this article reflect those of the contributor and interviewees, and not of Sanofi US, its employees, agencies, or affliates.
*"Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist" and "CDCES" are certification marks owned and registered by the National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators (NCBDE). NCBDE is not affiliated in any way with Sanofi US. NCBDE does not sponsor or endorse any diabetes-related products or services. For more information on NCBDE.