I think one of the biggest naughty pitfalls which can lead to fat gain and poor health is the ‘free reign’ mentality a lot of us have when we go on holiday. I understand, we’re on holiday. It is a time of relaxation, fun and enjoyment. But let’s think beyond what you’re going to be tasting in your mouth. Let’s do like the ghost of Future Christmases and see what will happen in about 15 mins – 24 hours later. Is it enjoyable when you experience bloat, sluggishness and indigestion? I don’t know about you, but it’s an unresounding HELL NO from me. Personally, I like to feel light and sexy on holiday, so that I’m ready to live my best life.
Whether you are travelling for work or for leisure, there ARE ways to maintain fat loss and stay healthy. And if you’ve been reading my posts for a while, you’ll know that I’m a fan of the ‘having your cake and eating it’ approach when it comes to nutrition. What I’m saying is that you can still indulge in some foods which you wouldn’t normally be consuming in your day to day while you’re on holiday. You just need to be armed with a strategy which works for you.
Here are some tips which ALWAYS work for me:
1. Don’t ‘treat’ yourself at every meal time.
This is probably one of the most detrimental things you can do. Unless you are already the proud owner of a scorching hot metabolic furnace, work out while you’re away, and also happen to possess an amazing set of genetics, DON’T DO THIS. Instead, limit your indulgent foods to one meal (preferably lunch or early dinner), and don’t be generous with the portion size.
2. Be very choosy about what you’re going to select as your ‘indulgent’ food.
It is one thing to indulge in a portion of fresh churros con chocolate when you’re in Spain, or some good quality artisan style pizza, pasta or gelato when you’re in Italy, etc. It is an entirely different thing when you’re gorging on chips, crisps, biscuits, and all the usual processed foods which can be found anywhere. Assess whether you’re indulging in an experience, or whether you are just mindlessly eating (which is binging’s sibling).
3. Portion sizes matter.
Just because you’re on holiday, and you’re indulging in a beautiful gastronomic experience (quite rightly!), doesn’t mean you need to go HAM on the portions. Remember, YOU are in control. Take some deep breaths in and ponder on this; you aren’t going to discover anything new in the 11th and 12th bites, which weren’t in the first couple. If you have IBS, this should be your mantra when it comes to relaxing on your food choices. Don’t eat the whole portion, share it with your travel companions (or maybe someone less fortunate), or ask for a small portion.
4. Eat healthy food alongside the indulgent foods, and make sure you’re getting nutritious healthy foods in your other meals.
Ok, so maybe you won’t be able to have meals which are AS healthy as what you’d have if you were eating at home, I get it. But there’s always a healthier option available. Even in, dare I say, places like McDonalds. Avoid bread and overly starchy foods, deep fried anything, high dairy options or anything you know your body doesn’t do well with.
5. Be mindful of your macros.
If you weren’t sure what the hell I meant when I said eat healthy nutritious food in your other meals and alongside the indulgent foods, let me break this down.
Keep carbs to a minimum, since you’ll be no doubt indulging in ‘holiday food’ which is already usually quite high in carbohydrates AND fat.
Still aim for to smash up 8-10 portions of vegetables per day. I don’t care if they are hiding in your pasta, pizza or couscous dish, they still count. Get them in. Your body is gonna need extra help if you’re going to be indulging in rich foods and alcohol. Vegetables are extremely high in nutrients as well as fibre, which can be helpful for keeping your digestion and poo habits in check.
Don’t forget about protein. Eggs, meat, chicken, broths, nuts, seeds, beans…all of that good stuff. You want to maintain your lean tissue and muscle, as this is what aids your metabolism. Remember, protein rich foods also help you satiated, and can stop you from over indulging where you have no business.
5. Don’t forget about drinking enough water.
Just because you’re on holiday, it does not mean slacking on your water intake. Continue to aim for you minimum of 8 glasses of MINERAL water per day. You don’t want to get dehydrated or constipated, do you?
6. Be disciplined with your meal spacing and avoid snacking.
Remember, your stomach needs at least 4 hours to clear it’s contents into the small intestines. Well, if it’s quite a substantial meal, it may even be 5, while if it was quite a small or light meal, you could get away with 3. If you want to know more about why you should space meals adequately and not snack, I wrote a more detailed post about it here.
7. Walk it off
I mean, walking is a GREAT way to discover a travel destination, isn’t it? Walk everywhere you can, especially before breakfast and after dinner. It can help make that holiday food go down better, and keep that belly flat. More on this here.
8. Don’t eat for the sake of it. Eat when you’re hungry or not at all.
When you eat out of boredom, pressure by some older relative, gluttony, etc, your brain sends signals to store all those calories as glycogen. Your body didn’t need the energy, so the body just stores the calories around your liver and muscles as glycogen. Not gonna walk it off either? Congratulations. The glycogen turns into fat within approx 24-48 hours.
9. Stop eating at 8pm.
Eating outside of daylight hours and within a couple of hours is problematic for digestive and liver health. This can have an immediate impact on your metabolic rate, as well as give you some undesirable next day effects including, but not limited to, facial and body swelling, bloating, not to mention an eventful episode in the loo. Instead, opt for non caffeinated teas and sparkling water. More on why I don’t advocate late night eating here.
10. Start taking a good probiotic about 2 weeks before you go away, while you’re there, and for at least 2 weeks once you get back.
Having a solid population of good bacteria can save you from a lot of heart (and belly) ache, especially when you’re away. Good bacteria can help your immune system fight off pathogens from the environment and the food you’re eating. Every single minute, our body is fighting off pathogens and toxins, and we are none the wiser. The stronger your immune system is, the less chance your innate security system will fail. When you’re not in your usual environment, the pathogens you become exposed to may be different to the ones your body have adapted to fighting off. If you’ve also been more slack with your health and nutrition routine, your immune system might not be as sharp. So there could be potential for opportunistic pathogens and bacteria to sneak into your system, which has been linked with fat gain. Supplementing correctly with a good probiotic, starting 2 weeks before you go, can help recruit some strong mercenary-style support/defense for your immune system. Probiotics can also help regulate energy levels (calories being used efficiently). Definitely seek professional advice on which is the best type/strains of probiotics for you.
These are my tried and tested FOOLPROOF travel and holiday tips which I religiously use when I go away. I find that I enjoy my trips more, feel and look better and just generally get more done.
Do you have any tips which work for you that I haven’t mentioned? Let me know, I’d love to add them in!
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