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5 Tips for Enjoying Vacation With Zero Food Guilt in 2022

I recently got back from a long weekend in New England. While there, I ate ice cream, lobster rolls, breakfast sandwiches, donuts, you name it.

If it sounded good, I ate it.

And I have absolutely zero guilt about it.

Enjoying a donut on vacation

I mean, how perfect does that donut look?! Couldn’t possibly pass that up.

When I shared some of these foods on Instagram, I had numerous people reach out to me asking how in the world I could possibly eat that kind of stuff.

In most cases, people are jealous that I can seemingly “eat whatever I want” and enjoy my vacation. For them, they have an impossible time letting go and just enjoying food without thinking of how healthy those choices may be.

Vacation is meant to be enjoyed. Stressing about food is only going to take away from an otherwise amazing trip!

So, I want to help you get to the point where you can enjoy your vacation to the fullest, including all the wonderful food it has to offer.

Here are 5 of my tips to get you there…

Avoiding food guilt on vacation


Tip #1: Adopt a flexible dieting approach

What is flexible dieting?

If you stick around this blog, you’ll be hearing all about macros.

Macros, or macronutrients, refer to the carbs, fat, and protein we eat.

These are the components of food that have a caloric value, which is why we only focus on those and not things like cholesterol or sodium.

Personally, tracking my macros taught me SO much about nutrition, and I highly recommend doing the same!

First things first, you need to figure out how many calories you want to aim for, then that can be broken up into your macro targets. If it sounds complicated, don’t worry!

I put together a calorie & macro calculator that you can use right here

Once you have your macro targets, you can aim for a flexible dieting approach. I have a whole article written about flexible dieting (click here to check it out) for you to learn all about this approach.

To summarize it, flexible dieting is simply eating ANY food you love while aiming to hit your macro goals. In other words, as long as you’re hitting those calories and fat/carb/protein goals, you can enjoy donuts, cookies, pizza, etc.

Of course, it doesn’t mean you should ONLY eat those things, but you can! Having this approach helped to seriously repair my own relationship with eating and dieting in a very big way.

If you have this approach, it makes “unhealthy” options WAY less scary.

Should you eat the donut

You quickly learn that there is nothing wrong with enjoying a donut every once in a while. Then, when you go on vacation, you can enjoy all those delicious foods that you want.


Tip #2: Consider the worst-case scenario

Most times, dieting is all about perspective. And I’m about to hit you with a little perspective bomb.

Let’s say you’re going on vacation for one week. You’re freaking out that you’re going to lose all of your progress during this time. You won’t be working out, you’re going to be eating out every night, and you won’t have any of your protein shakes or supplements with you.

You’re doomed.

Let’s play a game of “worst-case scenario” to put it into perspective.

In your mind, you’re going to overeat every single day and gain weight during this week. The combination of not working out and eating like doodoo means you’re guaranteed to gain weight, right?


But by that logic, even if you DO gain weight in one week, you’ll lose it after one week once you’re home.

If you get back on track when you’re home and eat in a calorie deficit, you should lose the same amount of weight.

So, in two weeks, you’ll be good-as-new.

One unhealthy meal won't make you fat

It sounds silly to think you’ll lose significant weight in a week, doesn’t it?

But that’s the same logic you’re applying to GAINING weight in one week!

I hate to break it to ya, but you don’t get to choose when logic applies. It’s always true ?.

If you’re going on vacation, you’re allowed to overeat. Gaining weight on vacation is almost always water weight anyway, but even if you were to somehow gain actual weight, you’ll be able to get back on track just as easily.

Since that’s the case, wouldn’t you rather enjoy all those delicious foods knowing you’d only need one week to get back on track?

And when all else fails, remember the 80/20 rule…

The 80/20 Diet Rule

The 80/20 rule- one of my favorite reminders when it comes to dieting.


Tip #3: Just dive in

This tip is a scary one to practice, but it’s actually what helped me the most.

In 2019, I took a trip to Italy for my honeymoon. It was a 10-day vacation, and I promised myself that I wasn’t going to work out or track anything I ate.

I knew that trying to estimate calories while in Italy would be nearly impossible, so I didn’t want to even try. More importantly, I wanted to just enjoy my vacation to the fullest without worrying about food.

To that point, I had been meticulously tracking for years.

Like you, I feared that 10 days (I had never taken 10 days off from working out, either!) would de-rail my progress and really set me back.

But, I decided to just go for it. I didn’t give myself a choice. I went on vacation, and I figured I’d just see where I was at once I was home.

Enjoying pizza on vacation

There was no shortage of pizza in Italy.

At one point in this trip, I did some quick math to try to estimate how much protein I had been consuming. There were a couple days when I didn’t even hit 20g of protein total (I mean, we ate all carbs).

Surely it seemed that I was due for a rude awakening once I got home.

Well, after 10 days, this is what I discovered:

  1. I did not gain any weight. At all.
  2. I didn’t lose any muscle.
  3. My strength was still 100% there the next time I stepped into the gym.
  4. I had an incredible time.

If you’re worried about your vacation ruining your progress, I challenge you to just dive in and go on the vacation and see what happens.

I think you’ll be very pleasantly surprised by what does (or doesn’t) happen.


Tip #4: Stay active (walking is your friend)

Walking is the most underrated form of exercise in the world.

Many people think it isn’t an efficient form of exercise, but walking every single day has HUGE health benefits.

For me and my anxiety, walking really helps to relax my mind, and I absolutely love it.

When I go on vacation, I always prioritize walking. Sure, sometimes you need to grab an Uber or a train, but if you’re in a walkable city, I highly recommend you take full advantage!

I found this cat in Italy, but he didn’t understand me because my Italian isn’t great.

My wife gets mad at me because I end up walking us around too much, but I absolutely love it. For me, those adventures are half the fun of vacation!

I never mean to walk as much as I do, but I often end up walking 8+ miles per day on vacation!

I’m not saying you need to walk that much by any means, but you’d be surprised at just how much you can end up walking on vacation (especially compared to our usual day-to-day of sitting at a desk all day long).

And while I don’t walk to burn calories, it’s no secret that the calorie-burning benefit is still there. Walking 8 miles means I’m burning a whole lot of extra calories, which makes that extra donut, a slice of pizza, ice cream, etc, feel way less scary.

In fact, after walking so much, I need the extra calories!

If you are able, try to prioritize walking on your upcoming trip. There are just so many benefits to it!


Tip #5: Memories > Macros. Always.

Think back to your past vacations. What do you remember the most?

Maybe it’s the time with family. Maybe it’s the time you got lost in the jungle. Maybe it’s the homemade pasta you ate in a treehouse in the Italian hillside (not to brag or anything… but that was amazing).

I’m sure you don’t remember the exact calories or macros from your trips.

If you love food, and you think it’s going to contribute to some amazing memories, then it deserves to take priority.

Espresso on vacation

I don’t love espresso, but “when in Rome!” (literally)

You’re never going to look back and think “man, I wish I hadn’t eaten that extra 200 calories for dessert on vacation.”

But you will remember the greatest gelato you’ve ever had, or the amazing potluck dinner you had while making friends with strangers on your trip.

Calories will come and go, and you’re going to forget. The memories will last forever.


You’ve got this.

It’s easy to get wrapped up in trying to be “healthy” all the time. Trust me, I’ve been there.

But if you’re reading this, it’s because you want to let go and enjoy your vacation. I promise that you can, and you will.

You’re not going to ruin your progress. You’re not going to offset everything you’ve done to this point.

You’re going to have an incredible trip.


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Tuesday 29th of June 2021

Just got back from 2 week family vacation on the west coast. We walked a crap ton. Stayed busy. I literally ate it all. Everything. Desserts a couple times a day. Big breakfasts. Fried foods. No holds bar. All the carbs. I weighed before I left and weighed when I got back. I was 1 lb less than before I left. Memories > macros!!!

About Matt Rosenman

With over 15 years of experience in health and fitness, Matt Rosenman is the expert voice behind Matt’s philosophy is simple: no foods are off-limits, and a healthy lifestyle shouldn't be complicated or restrictive. As a former certified personal trainer with a bachelor’s degree in Health Behavioral Sciences, Matt brings well-rounded expertise to his blog. From revamping classic recipes with a nutritious twist to breaking down fast food menus, his goal is make healthy living less confusing for everyone. Featured in major publications and with a strong following on social media, Matt is committed to making “healthy” uncomplicated—no matter where you are in your health journey. Join Matt on his mission to simplify health without sacrificing flavor. Learn More