Vacation Weight is a Thing. Really.

Studies track why we might eat more on vacation, and what we might do to prepare for the extra calorie load.



Summer is peak season for “vacation mentality” – that common fallacy that allows you to act differently on vacation because the consequences of your actions when you return home seem far off and remote. New research shows this kind of vacation thinking can impact your waistline.

A study surveyed 122 adult Americans between the ages of 18 and 65 who vacationed sometime between March and August. About 67 percent of the vacationers gained an average of 0.7 pounds on vacation. Some of those surveyed even gained up to 7 pounds – no decimal point. Additionally problematic is that vacationers are not aware they are gaining a significant amount of weight while away.

The leading cause of weight gain for many surveyed was an increase in calories from alcohol. The study found that if a person had eight drinks a week prior to vacation, they had 16 drinks a week while away, according to the report in HealthDay.

Another possible culprit might be the numeric nature of meals at family get-togethers. According to a report in The Guardian, a researcher found that how much we eat depends on how many people are sharing the table with us. Psychologist John de Castro found that the larger the group, the more calories are consumed. That means a family reunion cookout can have an exponential effect on weight gain.

“Meals eaten with one other person present were 33% larger than meals eaten alone, whereas 47%, 58%, 69%, 70%, 72%, and 96% increases were associated with two, three, four, five, six, and seven or more people present, respectively,” de Castro writes.

Researchers behind the vacation study weren’t advising that you stick to celery and mineral water on your next vacation. They did advise, however, factoring in the weight gain when you plan for vacation, and perhaps making adjustments in your diet before and after a trip to address the extra calories you might consume while traveling.

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Courtney Major currently attends Emerson College where she majors in Writing, Literature, and Publishing with a minor in Marketing Communications.