When we reach our fifties, many of us are lucky enough to find a little more time for holidays and getaways. Which is great, but they are also booby time traps for gaining weight.
You know the feeling? “Ah well, I’m on holiday … so I might as well eat what I like and worry about the love handles when I get home!”
Exotic food, dishes cooked by others and tempting pastries in romantic cities are all there to knock us off the straight and narrow eat-sensibly-path.
I decided to ask the very lovely Natalie Scott, an accredited dietician who lives and works in Perth, for some advice about how to prevent gaining weight on holiday, and she kindly put together an awesome selection of easy to follow tips and strategies. Ones which I’m certainly going to follow during our trip to Europe.
So very big thanks, and over to you Natalie …
Well, being an avid fan of travelling myself, I know that one of the best things about visiting new places is trying all of the local delicacies. But if you use your holiday as an excuse to stray too far away from your usual diet and exercise regime, you might come home with a little more extra baggage than you left with (and I’m not talking about souvenirs).
By following the tips below and ensuring that you keep as active as possible; you can hopefully minimize the effect on your waistline and still have a really great time on your trip.
Tips 1: Be appetite aware:
Ideally it is best to not let yourself get over hungry as this can lead to making poor food choices and also eating too quickly and becoming overfull. Instead, eat (slowly) when you are hungry and stop when you’re satisfied, not full. Our bodies are generally good at letting us know when we need to eat. So just because you’re walking past a bakery with the smell of fresh croissants doesn’t mean you need to eat one right then. You could return when you are hungry or buy one to take with you and eat later.
Tips 2: Eat smaller meals and snacks more often:
In other words, don’t skip meals. If you skip meals during the day and save all your wining and dining for at night, this sends a message to your brain that food supply is limited and your body goes into what is called starvation mode, storing everything you do eat as fat. So try eating breakfast to kick-start your metabolism and then small meals/snacks throughout the day. Make sure you pack some healthy snacks with you so you don’t get stuck and forced to eat unhealthy options. Some examples of healthier snacks are: dry roasted nuts with dried fruit, muesli bars (look for ones low in fat and sugar, with plenty of fibre) or a piece of fruit.
Tip 3: Take caution with your portions:
Travelling and holidays usually mean eating out often. The problem with eating out is that you don’t know what has gone into preparing your meals (think added fat and sugar) and the portions tend to be much larger than what you may dish up at home. So if you are a plate cleaner, like most of us are when faced with delicious food, this means that you will be eating more kilojoules than you normally would. Of course this doesn’t mean you have to order the salad every time, maybe just try ordering an entrée size instead of a main meal. Or if you’re travelling with someone, go halves in a meal and order a side of salad or vegetables to go with it.
Tip 4: Drink plenty of water:
Water is essential for keeping hydrated and may help avoid symptoms of jet-lag and over-exposure to sun. It can also help to reduce food intake as sometimes thirst is confused for hunger. So try having a big glass of water if food cravings set in and wait 10 or so minutes to see if they subside. Also having a glass of water before and with your meal may mean that you feel fuller and don’t eat as much during the meal.
Tip 5: Watch hidden kilojoules in drinks:
You are probably going to be getting enough extra kilojoules from trying all of the exotic foods, so try not to drink too much in the way of high kilojoule drinks such as soft drinks, milkshakes and yes, that even means alcohol. Most of us drink more while on holiday. Of course a holiday is a cause for celebration but just be mindful that alcohol is high in kilojoules, so just aim to have a few alcohol free days each week.
Tip 6: Eat “in” once a day:
Having one meal in your hostel/hotel room can save not only money but kilojoules too. Breakfast is probably the easier one as you will be out exploring during the day. You could visit a local supermarket to buy some lower sugar instant porridge, a high fibre breakfast cereal or lower sugar/saturated fat muesli bar with a high fibre content. If this is not feasible as you are moving locations every few days, try to pick healthier options at breakfast (wholegrain toast with poached eggs, or muesli with fruit and yoghurt) or lunch (sandwich or wrap with meat and salad).
Tip 7: Avoid the all-or-nothing approach
Remember that a holiday is a time to enjoy yourself and part of that is trying new foods and drinks. Just try and avoid the “all-or-nothing” approach of over-indulging on your holiday and then trying to make up for it when you get home. Instead, if you really want to try a crepe with nutella in it, have one. Just be aware of portions and if possible share it with a friend/travel partner or save half for another time.
Most of all enjoy every bite and have a great trip!
Natalie is an accredited dietician and loves all things food; from exploring the local fruit and veg market, to trying new foods and preparing meals to share with family and friends. Her passion for food as well as meeting new people and experiencing different cultures are just some of the reasons that she is also a big fan of travel.
Do you have any tips for preventing weight gain on holidays?