A Health Coach’s Guide to Recovering from a Gluttonous Vacation

We all know that feeling. You’ve been on vacation for the past 5-10 days feeling incredible. You have no qualms about throwing on your swimsuit to splash in the sun and sip fancy drinks with your girls. You feel invincible as you eat bowls of handmade pasta, drink carafes of red wine as if it was water, and eat dessert after every meal while you discover a new amazing city with your man. Or you’re feeling enlightened and inspired after connecting with like-minded people at a conference.

But then… you have to return home to reality. As if getting back to the grind wasn’t bad enough, you’re also faced with breakouts, bloating, and perpetual dehydration.

What happened? Weren’t you just in the middle of living your best life?

We’ve all been there before, and it doesn’t feel good. I love to travel, and in the past four years I’ve been lucky to have taken seven trips abroad to 10 different countries and taken at least 25 weekend trips to various domestic locations. Not to mention the weekends where I’ve had visitors.

I never want to stop traveling, but I quickly learned that anticipating the negative post-travel feels made traveling less enjoyable.  So, in order to keep experiencing my passion for traveling, I started being more mindful about how I was feeling and using some of the simple tips I learned in my Health Coach Training Program to get back on track quickly.  

 

Source: @newdarlings

 

Before You Go

The detoxification process actually starts before you even head out the door and step foot on the plane.  The first step is to make sure you incorporate all the healthy habits you know and love — drink more water, exercise, get lots of sleep, eat more veggies, decrease alcohol and processed foods in the week leading up to your time off. You don’t have to go on an all-out detox, but if you feel great before you leave, you’ll enjoy your vacation even more.

The next step is to prepare for your trip.  You should know how you’re going to get from the airport to your hotel and have at least one thing you want to do or see every day.  This will help to reduce stress while you’re on your trip.

While we often think about what we’re putting in our bodies as a detox, stress often has an even bigger impact on us than food.

 

While You’re There

You did it, you made it on vacation! Now ENJOY it to the fullest, whatever that means to you. Maybe that means trying a yoga class in a new place, laying on a beach and day drinking, going to museums and sightseeing, or eating all the things. For me, it means eating the best local cuisine possible, waking up slowly and enjoying cappuccinos, walking miles on miles, going for at least one run in a new city, having a glass of wine with lunch and afternoon naps, and discovering things I didn’t even know existed.  

You’ve spent your hard-earned dollars and PTO on this trip, and you deserve it! It’s a time to escape from reality and tune in with a different side of yourself, not a time to deprive yourself of indulging and discovering something new.  It can be hard to step outside your routine and relinquish control, but trust me, it feels really good.

 

Once You’re Home

Vacation is over! (insert sad face) Now it’s time to get back on track and nip bloating, pimples, and dehydration in the bud. I recommend committing yourself to a five-day detox, which is long enough to see results but not long enough to feel depressing.  Choose a window of time that works best for you. If you know that you’ll need an extra day to get acclimated to reality, do Tuesday – Saturday; otherwise, shoot for Monday – Friday so you can feel like your vacation-self starting on Saturday.

Before you start detoxing, remember to be kind to yourself.  You’ll probably be tired and you still might get a pimple, and that’s okay. Escaping reality for just a moment is so important for your overall mental health!

 

 

Here are the standard five-day detox rules:

 

1. Be committed and go all in

Commit to these five days to make the most of it — I promise they’ll fly by.

 

2. Meal plan

Decide what you’re going to eat and when — this will help you stay on track throughout the week.  See below for a few examples of meals or this three-day detox on my website.  You can even see this post for healthy meal prep.

 

3. Eliminate gluten, dairy, sugar, wheat, soy, alcohol, and all processed foods.

These are the most common causes of inflammation, bloating, and breakouts.  Your meal planning will help massively with avoiding these offenders. If you want to take it one step further, try eliminating legumes, as they cause bloating for a lot of people.  Some of my favorite detox-friendly foods are kale, sweet potatoes, avocados, quinoa, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, apples, bananas, wild caught salmon, organic free range chicken, and roasted veggies.

 

4. Buy enough groceries for the week.  

You can really set yourself up for success by ordering your groceries ahead of time if that’s offered in your city.  When I was coming back from London a couple years ago, I ordered my groceries on Instacart and felt ready to hop back into my routine when I got home.

 

5. Hydration

Your body is made up of 75% water, so you need to keep replenishing.  Water helps carry nutrients to your body and eliminate waste. Travel alone makes us even more dehydrated, not to mention the drinking and salty foods. Try to get at least half your bodyweight in ounces every single day. Shoot for more if you can. I’m not a great water drinker, so I’ll make sure I have two huge glasses before I walk out the door for work, four massive glasses during the day, and at least one before bed.  You can even set an alarm to remind yourself to drink if you need it!

 

6. Sleep at least 7-9 hours every night.

Sleep is when your body recovers and rejuvenates.  You’ve just spent a week away being pretty hard on your body and it needs a chance to regain its energy.  If you have trouble sleeping, try a simple meditation to reduce your stress and relax.

 

7. Make a to-do list.

The night before going back to work, try making a to-do list of everything you know you need to accomplish your first day back.  It will make you feel so much more confident and secure going into the day.

 

8. Exercise.

Move your body three out of the five days.  I’d recommend starting with something gentle like yoga or even just a long walk before diving back into your boot camp or spin class.

 

Source: @omandthecity

 

Here are a few of my favorite detox-friendly meals and snacks.  

Detoxing doesn’t mean deprivation. Your meals should include protein, fat, and fiber in order to stay full and keep your energy up all day long.

 

Breakfast

 

Dinner/Lunch

  • Baked salmon with garlicky broccoli and steamed kale
  • Baked or poached chicken
  • Zoodles with vegan pesto
  • Vegetarian Coconut Curry
  • On-the-go option: take-out salad with olive oil and lemon as dressing

 

Snacks

  • Medjool dates stuffed with almond butter (my all-time favorite snack!)
  • Goop detox bars
  • Raw almonds
  • Fresh fruit
  • Turmeric latte
  • Hummus & raw veggies

 

How do you prepare for your post-vacation detox? Let me know in the comments below!

  • D

    in addition to all that, I feel what used to bug me the most about returning to the real world! was that I went from perfectly decorated, professionally cleaned hotel rooms back to my lovely home and I realized that by detoxing my environment before leave for the trip I can prevent that feeling! so I make sure that the whole house is supper clean and looks like those homes from the magazines so that when I return I feel amazing and ready to slay!

  • I…..don’t detox after a trip? Like how dissonant do you have to be as a person to just to throw your health under the bus and consume stuff you KNOW is going to make you feel awful or sick? Like, if I go to Italy and drink a bunch of wine with my pasta – that’s literally no different from what I’d normally consume (I’m just probably getting a higher quality and more authentic edition of it). If I don’t day drink at home I’m not gonna do it on vacation either. I’m not going to do a bunch of things to myself that are crazy unhealthy or I know cause my system problems just because “omg vacay!” That’s ridiculous…..

    Am I the only one that thinks this article is kind of silly and unnecessary? Or are that many of you actually treating your bodies like shit while abroad just because you think you can? I’m really confused.

    • Brianne Wells

      YES! Exactly! I feel the same way!

  • amamato11

    “You feel invincible as you eat bowls of handmade pasta, drink carafes of red wine as if it was water, and eat dessert after every meal while you discover a new amazing city with your man.”

    It should be “discover a new amazing city.” Period. Why does it have to be “with your man”? Why not alone? Or with your girlfriends? Or with your girlfriend/partner/wife? Sorry, single girl rant here, but that “with your man” just really irked me.

  • Kayla

    Super disappointed in this article. Enjoy your vacation. Come back home rested & happy. PERIOD. You do not have to “detox” from vacation. Your body can do what it needs to do. Articles like this are part of the problem with society today, such a terrible message to send to women.

  • MeaganDut

    I echo the sentiments below – I am disappointed by this article and caution the endorsement of “health coaches.” Enjoy vacation, period. One blogger I know refers to “home court habits”, meaning your go-to healthy habits when you’re at home – return to those.

    “Eliminate gluten, dairy, sugar, wheat, soy, alcohol, and all processed foods.” So leafy greens and lean protein? Revolutionary. Later: “Detoxing doesn’t mean deprivation.”

  • Maya

    This article really helped me. I just returned home from a week in Burgundy France, and I was feeling terrible from all the wine and bread I consumed. I googled, “how to detox from a vacation” and found this article. I’ve actually stuck to it for 7 days now and I’m feeling fantastic. My skin is clear, I shed some lbs and I’m healthy again. I was actually just rereading it to see if you cite a specific diet so I can learn more about how to expand on some of the foods I’ve been eating. Is it based on Paleo? Keto? Whole 30? What do you call this one, Everygirl?

    Sometimes we find ourselves in a small French town that’s hundreds of years old and if you don’t want to sit for a 2 hour meal, you’re stuck eating baguettes and cheese and pastries, and if this town happens to be known for its wine then you’re also going to be stuck with that too. We don’t all have self control or options on some of our vacations and I’m grateful you recognize how human we are. Thanks again.