Dietitian secrets to staying healthy during spring break  

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Spring break is just around the corner, and with it, a much-needed escape from the hustle and bustle of busy routines. However, this break also brings the challenge of keeping up with your healthy habits, which can often take a back seat during this relaxing time. 

A group of healthy people playing volleyball on a beach during spring break.
Dietitians’ secrets for a healthy spring break, keeping you energized, satisfied and on track with your wellness goals. Photo credit: Depositphotos.

While the temptation to let loose is high, integrating wellness into your break will keep you feeling revitalized even after the break. With advice from leading dietitians and additional wellness insights, here are six tips for a health-conscious and fun-filled spring break.

Snacking smart and packing smart

“Pack snacks ahead of time,” advises Wan Na Chun, MPH, RD and CPT of One Pot Wellness. Keeping nutritious snacks on hand can make all the difference in avoiding unnecessary junk food and maintaining balanced eating habits between meals. 

Echoed by Sarah Alsing, MS, RD and owner of Delightfully Fueled, is the particular importance of these snacks for travel days. Opting for portable choices like fruit bars, nuts and turkey jerky can be life-savers, ensuring you’re never too far from a healthy snack and keeping you satiated and energized during long trips. 

For those who adhere to specific dietary requirements or are planning a cozy staycation, Amy Beney, MS RD CDCES and owner of Nutrition Insights PLLC suggests packing prepackaged nutritious foods like salads for hassle-free dining. Also, a small crockpot can transform any accommodation into an opportunity for simple, wholesome meal prep, making any vacation an oasis for healthy eating. 

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Keeping key goals close

Travel causes inevitable disruptions to your routines, but Marissa Meshulam, registered dietitian and founder of MPM Nutrition, suggests identifying a few non-negotiable but realistic habits to keep. Whether it’s ensuring you start your day with a protein-rich breakfast or staying hydrated, sticking to these core practices can significantly improve your overall well-being.

Consider making sleep a priority as well. “Feeling like you’ve hopped time zones after a vacation? That’s social jet lag,” explains Kaytee Hadley, MS, RDN, IFMCP and founder of Holistic Health and Wellness. “Keeping to your regular sleep schedule helps immensely,” notes Hadley. By doing so, you align your body’s internal clock, ensuring you stay energized during the day and get restful sleep at night, smoothing your return to everyday routines.

Eating out without missing out

The dining out experience is a hallmark of any vacation. It offers the chance to indulge in the new and uncharted as well as revisit familiar favorites. While restaurant menus might seem challenging for those trying to eat healthily, making informed choices in line with your health objectives is entirely achievable.

Nowadays, many restaurants offer nutritional details, making it easier for diners to pick options that match their dietary needs. Katie Breazeale, MS, RD, LD, recommends choosing meals that are grilled or steamed over fried. She also highlights the importance of portion control. “Restaurant servings are often larger than necessary,” Breazeale points out. “Consider splitting a dish or saving half for later.”

Finding joy in movement

Spring break presents the perfect chance to try out new activities and visit those you know you love. Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD and owner of Sound Bites Nutrition, recommends giving pickleball a try –  a fun and accessible sport that welcomes tennis superstars and athletic novices alike. 

Incorporating different fitness activities can also spice up your physical activities regimen. “Explore local walking or running paths, or delve into outdoor adventures like hiking or kayaking to keep active amidst beautiful landscapes,” suggests Steph Magill, MS, RD, CD and owner of Soccer Mom Nutrition. Many destinations also offer yoga on the beach, cycling tours or water aerobics, providing fun ways to stay active while exploring the local destination.

A hydrated body is a happy body

Keeping hydrated is a must during spring break, especially with the sun shining and drinks flowing. “Alternate your alcoholic beverages with water — matching each drink with a glass of water,” advises Claire Rifkin, MS, RDN and owner of her own clinic. If you’re spending extended periods outdoors, aim for at least one glass of water every hour. This not only minimizes dehydration risks but also ensures you make the most of your spring break.

Sharon McCaskill, MA, RDN and founder of The Helpful GF, encourages exploring flavorful hydration options, like infused waters or herbal teas, to make staying hydrated less of a chore and, more importantly, delicious. A visit to a smoothie bar for a blend with no-added-sugar bases and protein-rich add-ins can offer a refreshing and energizing start to your day, keeping your hydration levels optimal while you have fun in the sun.

You can even skip alcohol altogether and instead opt for a mocktail. Replacing the alcohol with a prebiotic soda like Olipop is a great way to help meet your fiber needs and still enjoy a fun and delicious drink.

Cultivating mindfulness and balance

Ultimately, spring break is a time for both mental and physical rejuvenation equally. Moushumi Mukherjee, MS, RDN, emphasizes the importance of mental wellness, suggesting that a break should be a time to reset and slowly incorporate healthy decisions. 

Mindfulness practices can include starting each day with a few minutes of meditation to clear your mind or engaging in yoga to connect your body and spirit. These practices can not only help to reduce stress but also set a positive tone for the rest of the day. 

Consider also creating time for journaling or peaceful walks. These simple activities offer a chance to reflect on personal goals and well-being away from the pressures of school or work. 

Enjoying your spring break

Incorporating these dietitian-approved tips can help you navigate spring break without compromising your health goals. From smart snacking and maintaining key behaviors to making informed food choices and staying active, you can keep your wellness journey on track. 

All that said, it is important to stay flexible and forgive yourself for indulgences to keep the all-or-nothing mindset at bay. Enjoying a special meal out or skipping leg day at the gym is part of the experience — try to balance these occasions with some fun activities and healthy snacks throughout your trip.

So pack your bags and snacks and enjoy your spring break with confidence, knowing that a healthy balance is entirely within reach.

Lara is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Personal Trainer. She is also a recipe developer, photographer and runs the food and travel blog, Lara Clevenger. She shares easy recipes that are mostly low-carb, along with travel adventures.

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