Vacations are a time when many people take a break from everyday responsibilities to unwind and recharge.

Cooking is often replaced with restaurant visits, which usually offer enjoyment — but eating out can present challenges for anyone who’s on a health-conscious diet.

Add in meal-inclusive accommodations and excursions, food stalls and various shops that sell drinks, snacks and desserts — and overeating is an easy thing to do when people let their guard down.

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If maintaining a balanced diet while traveling and sightseeing is a top concern, here are eight smart tips from diet, nutrition and fitness experts.

Check out this list.

People eat while on a beach picnic.

Going on vacation generally allows people to take a break from cooking and eating outside their chosen accommodation. (iStock)

1. Ditch the buffets and order appetizers with side vegetables

Vacations can actually help people stick to their health and fitness goals because they’re often leaving home and work stress behind them, says Dr. Joan Salge Blake, a Massachusetts-based nutrition professor at Boston University.

For those who need help, however, when it comes to healthier eating, she advises that diet-conscious vacationers avoid “all you can eat” buffets and restaurants that “notoriously serve excessive portion sizes.”

Rather, she said, “Think quality over quantity.”

Person grabs foods at hotel buffet.

Buffets can be a stepping stone to overeating. “Think quality over quantity,” said one nutrition professor. (iStock)

Diet-conscious vacationers should also adjust their restaurant orders by choosing appetizers in place of an entrée, says Blake.

“The portions will likely be in check, and you’ll be able to better pace your intake,” she said. “Also, the quality is usually higher.”

Appetizers can be combined with side salads or grilled vegetables, says Blake.

“Vegetables are full of water and fiber, so they fill you up before they fill you out,” she explained. “In other words, with these veggie sides and the two appetizers, you will be stuffed.”

2. Review the menu before choosing a restaurant

Taking time to review restaurant menus before making a reservation or paying a visit can help minimize overindulgence, says Kimberley Wiemann, a registered dietitian from Long Island, New York.

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“Most restaurants have the menu available online and when you plan ahead what you will order, you are much more likely to make smarter choices,” says Wiemann.

Dad and son look at food menu online.

Many restaurants publish their food options online with digital menus. (iStock)

“When you are already there and enjoying the moment, perhaps sipping a cocktail, people are more likely to overindulge or splurge on less desirable options,” she said.

3. Stick to the ‘BDD’ rule

The BDD rule stands for “Bread, Drink, and Dessert” — and Megan Lyons, a certified clinical and holistic nutritionist who runs The Lyons’ Share Wellness health-coaching service in Dallas, Texas, says she swears by it.

“During a regular meal, I recommend choosing only one of these categories,” she said.

“On special occasions, such as birthdays or anniversaries, you can indulge in all three without feeling guilty.”

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Lyons recommends the BDD rule for people who are going on vacation and people who want to practice mindful eating in their everyday lives, she said.

People eat at a table filled with food.

If you’re on a health-conscious diet, it’s wise to be wary of drinks and desserts while on vacation, experts suggest. (iStock)

“The reason we focus on these three aspects is that they often accumulate in restaurants, where we tend to consume more than we would if we were preparing a healthy meal at home,” she said.

“These choices can lead us away from our health goals.”

4. Practice portion control and drink more water

Monitoring meal and drink sizes can help vacationers stick to their diets, according to Whitney Prude, a certified health and wellness coach from Rochester, Minnesota, who runs an online health-coaching service called Whole & Happy Living.

“Enjoy the local cuisine in moderation,” Prude said. “Opt for smaller portion sizes or share dishes with your travel companions. This way, you can savor the flavors without consuming excessive amounts of calories.”

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Drinking water is essential for healthy diets, she added, and staying hydrated is important, especially in warmer climates.

Two people pack luggage on a bed.

Packing a refillable water bottle and using it regularly can help you stay hydrated while on vacation, suggested one expert. (iStock)

“Water helps regulate appetite and prevents dehydration, which can sometimes be mistaken for hunger,” she said.

“Carry a refillable water bottle and aim to drink enough water to quench your thirst.”

5. Know that protein and fiber are your best friends

Vacationers should incorporate foods that are high in protein and fiber if overindulgence is a concern, recommends Gisela Bouvier, a registered dietitian from Punta Gorda, Florida.

“Both fiber and protein help to increase satiety, as well as keep us fuller longer,” she said.

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Fruits, vegetables, legumes and grains are high in fiber, according to Bouvier — while meats, eggs, tofu and dairy are high in protein.

Woman eats healthy meal across from somone.

Eating foods that are rich in fiber and protein can help you feel full for longer, says one registered dietician. (iStock)

“Including a variety of fiber-full foods and protein-rich foods can create versatility in our diets while preventing early hunger,” Bouviers also said.

6. Cut down on cocktails and consider ‘express’ exercises

It’s best to cut down on cocktails during extended travel, suggests Karen Owoc, a clinical exercise physiologist who works in the cardiology department at the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care system in San Ramon, California.

“On vacation, there always seems to be an ‘excuse’ or ‘reason’ to have a drink,” she said.

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“When it comes to alcohol, order wisely. Some fruity, frozen cocktails can have 500 or more empty calories per glass.”

A night of drinking “too much alcohol” can also result in dehydration, uncomfortable bloating, hangovers and ruined fun the next day, according to Owoc.

working out at the gym

Fitting in a short workout can help you combat high-calorie foods or drinks while you’re on vacation, suggested one clinical exercise physiologist. (iStock)

In terms of exercise, Owoc is a proponent of express workouts, which can include an eight-minute warmup and an eight- to 12-minute interval of bodyweight exercises.

Depending on a vacationer’s fitness level, express workouts can be structured with 30 seconds of activity and 10 to 30 seconds of recovery.

Express workout guide suggested by Karen Owoc

    – Beginner: 30 seconds active, 30 seconds rest

    – Intermediate: 30 seconds of active, 20 seconds of rest

    – Advanced: 30 seconds of work, 10 seconds of rest

“There’s no need to spend hours working out when you could be sightseeing, especially if your vacation includes a lot of walking or physical activity,” Owoc said.

“An effective express workout alternates exercise with short periods of recovery and can be done quickly without any fitness equipment.”

7. Get active while exploring

If gyms aren’t accessible at vacation destinations, taking on calorie-burning activities can combat some of the spontaneous treats that place travelers, according to Loujaina “Juju” Sheikh, a UK-based personal trainer and founder of the Cloud Nine Collective, a fitness and wellness app.

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“Instead of relying solely on transportation, consider walking or biking to explore your destination,” she said via email.

Person paddles oar while in kayak.

Engaging in an intensive activity like kayaking can help you burn calories while on vacation, recommended by a personal trainer. (iStock)

“Look for outdoor activities like hiking, swimming, snorkeling, or kayaking,” Sheikh continued.

“These activities not only provide exercise but also allow you to enjoy the beauty of your surroundings.”

8. Resist ‘bad’ eating while on vacation

People should let go of the notion that they can “be ‘bad’ on vacation” in terms of food, suggests Caroline Young, a registered dietitian and yoga teacher from Atlanta, Georgia, who offers health-coaching services through her business Whole Self Nutrition .

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She told Fox News Digital, “The outlook that we have to earn and make up for enjoying food and having ‘too much fun’ only creates large pendulum swings from restriction before and after trips to ‘screw-it’ eating once you’re there, which creates an unstable internal environment and negatively affects metabolism, mood and emotional regulation.”

Happy older couple eating

Practicing healthy eating before vacation generally helps when you’re actually at your chosen destination, suggested one professional. (iStock)

Also, restrictive eating can make a person miss out on tasty cultural dishes, Young warns.

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She advises vacationers to eat with “health and pleasure” in mind and incorporate “nutritious foods when it makes sense” to do so.

Healthy eating on vacation: How to manage diet and avoid overindulgence, according to experts

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