Palm Beach Gardens Fire Rescue
Health & Wellness

4 Tips for a Healthier Vacation

After months of shift work, a healthy diet on vacation is the last thing on a first responder’s mind. This article is not about kale salads and quinoa during your entire time off! However, making some healthy decisions will keep your energy high to enjoy your vacation fully.

Pack Healthy Snacks for Travel

Keeping healthy but delicious on hand is vital for long drives and flights. When traveling, the most significant nutrition gaps are often protein and fiber. Packing high protein and fiber options can also help keep you full between meals.

  • White Cheddar Popcorn – popcorn is considered a whole grain with more fiber than chips (ex., Smartfood, SkinnyPop)
  • Whole Grain Cereals – cereal is a great crunchy snack; look for at least 3-5g fiber per serving (ex., Cheerios, Mini Wheats)
  • Dried Fruit/Nuts – these are high in nutrients and calories. Keep the portion to 1/4 cup if your goal is weight loss, but up the serving if you want healthy weight gain or are very active.
  • Protein Bars/Powders – great to hit your protein goals, especially if breakfast tends to be carb-heavy. My personal favorites are Quest Smores or White Chocolate Raspberry protein bars.
  • Jerky – jerky packs a ton of protein; try to choose the lower sodium and lower fat options.

Enjoy a Well-Rounded Breakfast

Skipping breakfast to “save” calories for later can lead to overeating in the afternoon. Aim to get a protein source and a piece of fruit at breakfast. Good protein sources at breakfast include eggs, Greek yogurt, or turkey bacon/sausage. Of course, this is in addition to your favorite breakfast treat!

If you have a kitchen available and want to save money on breakfast, pack some of these options:

  • Oatmeal Packets – Quaker’s “High Protein and Fiber” packets are flavored and are high protein/fiber and low sugar. Some firefighters will need at least two packs as they are lower-calorie (160 calories).
  • Kodiak Cake Protein Pancakes – these quick-mix pancakes are an easy breakfast treat with extra fiber and protein.

Stay Hydrated

Keeping well hydrated on vacation is just as crucial as on shift, especially if you indulge in alcohol! Bring a refillable water bottle and drink plenty of water throughout the day. As boring as it sounds, alternate every 1-2 drinks with 16 oz of water. Alternating with water will help prevent a hangover later on and reduce your overall alcohol intake.

Keep Moving

While it may be tempting to lounge by the pool all day, getting out and exploring can lead to unique experiences and memories. Whether it’s going for a hike, renting bikes to explore the area, or simply taking a leisurely stroll through a new city, there are plenty of ways to keep your body and mind engaged while on vacation. If you are at a resort with activities, opt for volleyball, pool basketball, or a group fitness class. Staying active will keep your energy high and your mind off of snacking.

Remember, it’s okay to indulge in treats occasionally but try to make healthy choices whenever possible. By following these tips, you can enjoy your vacation while staying energized. If your diet “goes off the rails,” that is okay too! Get back on track when you return from your time off.

Megan Lautz, MS, RD, CSCS, TSAC-F

Megan is a Registered Dietitian and coach who specializes in firefighter nutrition. Megan’s mission is to help firefighters perform better, recover faster, and enjoy long, healthy retirements. Megan is the owner of RescueRD LLC, which provides nutrition seminars and coaching for tactical athletes across the country. Check out @Rescue.RD on Facebook and Instagram.

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