Vacations in Gatlinburg are filled with fun adventures, from stunning mountain views to endless tempting eateries. From pancake houses to BBQ ribs, the Smoky Mountain town is a food lover’s paradise. But when you’re surrounded by mouthwatering comfort foods, sticking to healthy habits can be challenging. 

The good news is that it’s possible to avoid overindulging while enjoying the sights, activities, and, yes, the flavors that Gatlinburg has to offer. In this article, we will share practical tips to help health-conscious travelers eat nutritious foods while vacationing in this charming mountain destination. 

Research Healthy Dining Options Beforehand

The first step is scouting out restaurants with healthy menu options around your point of stay before you head out. Seek out salad bars, veggie-focused entrees, build-your-own bowls, and other lighter options. This gives you a game plan for what and where to eat. 

Start Your Day with a Healthy and Filling Breakfast

Hit a local grocery store on your first day and stock up on some healthy breakfast staples, snacks, and ingredients for simple meals. Load up on Greek yogurt, eggs, whole grain bread, seasonal fruit, veggies, hummus, nut butter, milk, cereal, and oatmeal. 

However, remember that you are on vacation, and you will be spending a lot of time outdoors, indulging in strenuous recreational activities. So, it’s also important to have a filling and hearty breakfast for the long day ahead; after all, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. If you’re a health-conscious traveler but also want to have the best breakfast in Gatlinburg, consider visiting some of the popular restaurants like Log Cabin Pancake House and Crockett’s Breakfast Camp. You can even order waffles and pancakes prepared with nutritious ingredients. Load up on protein and healthy carbs to satiate your tastebuds and prevent hunger pangs throughout the day.

Pack Nutritious Snacks in Your Bag

When hunger strikes between meals, having non-perishable healthy snacks on hand prevents you from grabbing whatever convenient junk food is nearby. Pack snacks like fresh fruit, individual packs of nuts, protein or granola bars, apple sauce pouches, and nut butter packets in your bag. Healthy snacking keeps your energy and nutrition in check.

Choose Lodging with Cooking Facilities 

Booking accommodations with kitchen access allows for preparing quick meals and snacks instead of relying solely on restaurants. Even a hotel room with just a mini-fridge, microwave, and counter space provides options like oatmeal, sandwiches, veggie pizza, and more. Rentals like apartments, condos, cabins, etc., allow full-on cooking. Being able to whip up nutritious breakfasts and light meals yourself is a game changer for healthy vacations in places such as Gatlinburg. 

Bring Your Own Healthy Seasonings

Restaurant meals are often loaded with too much salt, fats, and sugars. Bringing your own small containers of healthy herbs, spices, kinds of vinegar, lemons, and condiments lets you add flavor to your meal without making it unhealthy. This can be especially helpful if you’re on a long vacation. Add a dash of cumin, a pinch of cinnamon, a splash of balsamic vinegar, or a squeeze of lemon to liven up veggie sides, salads, roasted meat, and fish. Instead of asking for sauces during your stay, you can utilize these healthy herbs whenever and wherever you dine.

Stay Hydrated with Water

Drinking water throughout the day consistently keeps you hydrated, prevents overeating, and offsets drinking calories. Set a goal, like finishing a liter before noon. Sparkling water with lemon, lime, or cucumber adds flavor. Limit your consumption of alcohol and sugary drinks like soda, juices, and sweetened coffees, which pack excess calories yet don’t quench your thirst. 

Walk as Much as Possible 

Exploring a new place on foot is a rewarding way to burn extra calories. Opt for walking tours rather than bus tours when possible. Climb the hotel stairs instead of taking the elevator. Walk to nearby attractions, restaurants, and shops instead of cabbing. Take nature walks and hike scenic trails to soak up gorgeous views. Move your body as much as you can to naturally work off any extra indulgences.

Order Appetizers and Smaller Portions

Rather than everyone ordering heavy main dishes at restaurants, try sharing a variety of appetizers and smaller portions. You can also order a big nourishing salad and eat it family-style. Portion control is easier when not faced with heaping individual entrees dripping in fat and sauces. Just beware of mindless snacking, and don’t fill up on breadsticks!

Limit Liquid Calories from Alcohol and Sugary Drinks  

Full-sugar sodas, juices, sweet tea, and alcoholic drinks like blended cocktails, beer, and wine coolers taste great by the poolside but add up quickly in empty calories. Have just one cocktail, then switch to water. Ask for virgin drinks or choose plain iced tea. Don’t deny yourself treats; just keep them reasonable by diluting and limiting quantities. 

Indulge Your Cravings in Moderation

Of course, you’re on vacation to treat yourself. Satisfy your cravings in small doses without going overboard. Order that freshly made gelato in a cup rather than a supersized waffle cone. Have one taco instead of five. Focus on savoring the flavors, textures, aromas, and experience rather than mindlessly devouring your meals. If you go overboard on one meal, get right back on track with the next. 

Don’t Stress; Just Rebalance When You Get Home

Perfection is impossible, so don’t beat yourself up if you overindulge. Relax and enjoy your vacation without fixating on calories. When you return home, focus on getting back to your normal healthy eating routine with regular grocery shopping, prepped meals, and gym sessions. Some minor weight gain is normal on getaways. Just be patient and consistent.


The bottom line is balance and moderation. With some simple strategies like ordering food wisely, choosing active adventures, hydrating yourself, and controlling portions, you can enjoy your vacation and the food it has to offer. Vacations should energize you, not leave you feeling sluggish and guilty. You don’t have to deprive yourself completely to eat healthy on trips. With a commitment to your well-being, indulge wisely as you explore and make memories.