08/21/2014 11:41 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Diet Derailed? How to Get Back on Track After Vacation

With summer winding down, chances are that your vacation and warm weather get-togethers may have led to the abandonment of healthy routines. Extra pina coladas at the pool or additional servings of chips and desserts at backyard barbeques may have thrown routine eating habits off the rails. Intense humidity may have squelched your interest in hitting the trails and running outdoors. As a result, the scale ticked upwards and reality has set in that it's time to get back to healthy living.

In a study by TripAdvisor, 29 percent of vacationers noted that they gained weight due to an abundance of food and beverage temptations. In addition, a third of all respondents said they planned to start a diet once they returned home. Since the majority of travelers surveyed said they are more likely to overindulge while on vacation, getting back on track after vacation is a priority this time of year.

So what are the best strategies for a healthy homecoming and bouncing back to a restored wellness routine?

"The best defense is a good offense when it comes to setting yourself up for a healthy return from vacation," said Retrofit Lead Registered Dietitian Amy Margulies.

Margulies offers the following tips, which she calls TRACK tactics. She promises that these suggestions will help the transition from vacation to reality go as smoothly as possible.

TRACK Weight Management

  • T is for Thirst: Eliminate the threat of thirst. Stock up on calorie-free sparkling and plain water so that it is easily accessible. In this blog highlighting tips to combat hunger, we're reminded that often thirst can be mistaken for hunger. When insufficient water is consumed, your body receives mixed signals. Dehydration can cause the body to feel hungry when you are actually just behind in your liquid consumption.
  • R is for Re-Think: Retrofit Lead Behavior Coach Jennifer Plotnek maintains that it is important to re-think main motivators for getting healthy or losing weight. Make the list of all the reasons these goals are important. Be as specific as possible and commit to reading it frequently throughout the day. Plotnek explains, "The more we focus on motivators for wanting to lose weight, the more mindful we may be. Writing down your goals can increase the chance of staying committed."
  • A is for Arrange: Arrange a grocery delivery service like Peapod before heading out on vacation to ensure that only healthy food choices are available when you get back. If you didn't do that before you left, make it the first priority when you return. Before you fill the washing machine with dirty clothes, fill the grocery list with plenty of fresh produce, lean protein and whole grains. Include ingredients for at least three pre-planned meals in the cart. Margulies explains, "Your food will arrive and you will have no choice but to create your tasty, healthy meal selections."

    While stocking the refrigerator and pantry, take a proactive approach and strategically arrange the healthy options. "If you place produce and healthy foods at eye level, you will likely choose them first. In addition, be sure to remove any foods that you feel you uncontrolled around," said Plotnek.

  • C is for Cease: Cease eating out at restaurants as soon as you return home. Exert total control over food and beverage choices as soon as the vacation is over. Margulies emphasizes, "We can only have complete authority over what is being consumed when we prepare it ourselves." In fact, studies from the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine show that fast-food and full-service restaurants actually entice overeating.
  • K is for Keep: Keep pre-made meals in the freezer for a healthy, quick, no-brainer meal preparation. Try to make double portions for a few meals before you leave, and freeze for your arrival back home. Frozen fruit is essential for post-vacation smoothies. Have non-fat Greek yogurt in the fridge; add frozen fruit and a dash of honey. Blend in a mixer and breakfast is ready. Sip and head out the door, back to work or your daily routine feeling good about your food choices.

Now that vacation is over, it may be apparent that you paid the price in terms of calories and pounds. What now? Forge ahead and remember to work on long-term weight loss goals and strategies.

Step on the scale and own that number. Then, go over all of the strides that were taken prior to vacation to put health and wellness back on your radar.

Margulies says, "If you sit around depressed that you've gained a few pounds on vacation, you will likely continue to make poor choices."

So, go ahead and enjoy that extra cocktail while on vacation. It is very important to not agonize over unhealthy choices made on summer holidays. Compassion, positive thinking and an "I can" attitude is what will ultimately act as the motivation to tip the scales back in the right direction.