The holiday season is here again and we are just about to take a flight to another exotic destination or are on our way to another dinner party.
In many cases, the minute we are on the plane, we forget everything we know about proper eating and let go of our boundaries and discipline.
No matter where you are travelling to and for how long, you need to keep paying attention to what you eat. It doesn't mean you need to ban yourself completely from carbohydrates, alcohol or trying local special foods. Nor does it mean you need to spend your entire holiday at the gym or swim across the ocean every day. However, here are some basic things you CAN easily do without putting too much effort into it and will help you prevent collateral damage:
1. Set your goals and keep them realistic:
When going on a holiday a reasonable goal will be to keep your weight steady as opposed to keep losing weight.
If you set yourself a goal that is unrealistic, you set yourself to failure. Failure leads to disappointment, which in many cases can make you fall off the wagon as an act of rebellion. On the other hand, succeeding in keeping your goals will motivate you to keep going.
2. Set yourself defined boundaries:
Humans act better when they have boundaries. Set some boundaries, however, have some freedom within the limitations you set.
For example I decided that I am going to limit my sugar intake this holiday, however, I won’t totally abstain it. Hence, on one of the days during my holiday I will go ahead and try this nice dessert and on another day I will drink a tempting cocktail. Alternatively, for example, I will avoid eating carbohydrates, on the other hand I will allow myself to drink a glass of wine every evening during my holiday. This practice enables me to enjoy different food/drink variety without losing my head completely.
3. Planning ahead:
Planning is a key factor that enables one to succeed. It will prevent you from being too hungry and giving into temptations that will make you feel bad later on.
Plan your holiday from the moment you are at the airport. Pack a box of vegetables for the flight, take some snacks such as nuts, almonds, seeds, grain less granola with you. If you are off to an active holiday such as trekking or skiing, take some dried fruits with you to keep your energy levels up.
Plan your meals!
For example, if I plan to spend my holiday in a nice resort I will have eggs and vegetables for breakfast and avoid the other goodies. As snacks I will have my nuts and seeds and occasionally fruit. For lunch I can have a big salad with a protein such as tuna or chicken and for dinner I will enjoy the local cuisine and a glass of wine.
Plan the Christmas dinner, visualise the dinner, think about your choices. If you are hosting and cooking, make sure to prepare something that is suitable for you to eat. If you don't want to eat too much make sure to eat all your daily meals as per normal and don't starve yourself because you have a big dinner ahead. This might cause you to overeat and feel very heavy.
4. Make the right food choices:
Most of your plate should be full with vegetables. Other than that the emphasis should be on proteins (eggs, meat, chicken, fish, tofu) and good fats (olive oil, nuts, seeds, avocado, olives, butter, coconut oil). Some legumes and whole grains can be eaten in smaller portions. Remember that proteins, fats and food with high fibre content will enhance feelings of fullness.
As for desserts, try to avoid or plan in advance to enjoy a nice dessert on a specific occasion, and then just enjoy it without guilt feelings.
5. One plate is enough:
Whether it is Christmas dinner, a hotel meal, or any restaurant meal, remember that one plate is enough. You do not have to try all of the food varieties. Look and assess your options, choose and fill up your plate only once. As mentioned before, if you are starving you will end up eating without control, so make sure not to skip meals.
When you finish your plate it is better to step away from the table, help clear it and go for a walk. The more you sit around the table, it's more likely you will be tempted to keep on eating.
6. Eat slowly, chew well, relax and enjoy your meal:
Remember it takes 15-20 minutes from the first bite, till the satiety signals reach the brain. Eating too quickly will make you eat much more than you really need.
7. Limit your alcohol intake:
The problem with drinking alcoholic beverages is not only they contain lots of sugar and calories, but also that they stimulate your appetite and it’s even worse once you are tipsy you forget about your intentions to keep a healthy diet.
I’m not suggesting to avoid alcohol completely, however, limiting it and sticking with wine or white spirits will minimise the damage.
8. Keep moving:
It is totally fine to rest from your routine training regime. However make movement part of your holiday. This will help you relax, ventilate and stay fit.
You can go for a walk (including shopping), hire a bike, take the stairs instead of the lift, swim, scuba dive, kayak, ski or anything else that gets you up and about.
9. The swimsuit trick:
This is the best trick in the book!
If you are off to a sunny beach holiday, wearing your swimsuit, and specially your bikini most of the day will help suppress your appetite, try it!!
Remember, it can take you up to one month to fix the damage done by one week of uncontrolled holiday of eating and drinking. Be good and most of all enjoy your holidays wherever you are!!
Noa Harari - UFIT Nutrition Team
Noa has been practicing as a Clinical Nutritionist for the last ten years. Her specialties include weight loss, Celiac disease, digestive system problems and metabolic diseases.
Noa understands that no human being resembles another. She believes that each one of us is created differently and has different needs. She recognises that the best way to get long term results is by creating a personalised program for each individual client. Read more here.