Whether you're a sun-worshipper, city-explorer or hill-climber, holidays are a time for personal indulgence. The office is a distant memory (I hope), the travelling is done and you can breathe a sigh of 'ahhhh' as your body and mind unwind, and you relax into being the master of your own schedule.
Trouble is, this theme of 'indulgence' when on holiday all too often means a gluttonous get-away that blows months of hard work...
Ringing bells? Well worry not, as here are some positive steps to maintain your hard won success WITHOUT feeling that you're denying yourself well deserved holiday treats.
1. RESEARCH. With the internet and apps like YELP and TRIPADVISOR, you can research local restaurants in a snap; explore menus, check reviews, book a table etc. Search for local places that take pride in how they source, prepare and serve their food. Look for buzz words like 'local', 'seasonal', 'sustainable', 'gluten-free friendly', 'organic' etc.
2. PRE-PLAN. Make lunch/dinner plans before you're hungry. Embarking on a healthy food hunt is far more challenging (and unlikely) when ravenous.
3. SNACK. Stock up on healthy grab-and-go snacks when you can. Fresh fruit, raw nuts and water are never more than an arms reach away when we travel and I permanently have a 'no-nasties' granola bar in my handbag. It helps avoid bad choices that stem from a hungry tummy and reduces ravenous overeating at meal times.
4. EMBRACE THE 'SPECIAL ORDER'. Don't be afraid to ask to have the sauce on the side, croutons left out, no bun with the burger, no cheese etc. See below for common 'special orders' I make. I am the prodigal 'special order'...
5. EXERCISE MODERATION. Holidays are certainly not about miserable deprivation, so if you're wanting to splurge on your favourite pudding (and you can't reframe your mindset to realise that you actually don't want it), then go for it, just try and have some restraint... Don't do it at every meal, and often a few mouthfuls will satisfy the craving. Sharing is a great way to please the taste buds without over doing it.
6. BE REAL, BE ACCEPTING. The "oh well, it doesn't matter, i'm on holiday" attitude is a slippery slope, so be careful of fibbing to yourself again about food realities. However if you decide that despite its high sugar content you still want that sorbet, that's fine, just be upfront with the realities, be content with your decision and enjoy it without beating yourself up afterwards!
7. GET OVER THE MISCONCEPTION THAT HEALTHY IS BORING. People always say - "but you're on holiday-you can do what you like." Exactly!!! Healthy IS what I like! Nutritious and delicious food from good clean sources with no added nasties, is my absolute favourite way to eat. I love the taste, I love knowing I'm doing my body good, and I love that I'm going to continue feeling good afterwards. There's nothing worse than trying to tourist it around a big city when you're in the midst of a food-coma or a dehydrated sugar crash! Post-meal bloat that makes bikini life miserable? No thank you!
8. THIRSTY? WATER FIRST. Sink a pint of water before you reach for the sodas then re-asses your wants. Ask them to add a slice of lemon, lime or cucumber if you fancy some flavour. Sparkling water is my favourite way to give me a fizzy hit that I often crave instead of a soda or beer.
Other simple 'adjustments' that keep you on the right side of healthy....
In a coffee shop but not a coffee drinker? Steer clear of the syrup saturated smoothies or iced-drinks and stick to the natural stuff like freshly made juices or herbal teas. The barista experience without the bad stuff.
Mexican/Burrito bar? Skip the tortillas and instead load your bowl up with all the yummy salad, veggies, delicious meat, and wholegrain rice if you like. Heavy on the freshly made guacamole and coriander please!
BBQ joint? Just ask for the sauce on the side and go for a side salad over chips (and then pinch a couple of your husbands :-/)
Burger bar? Sure, you could just take off the bun after it's delivered, but make that process even easier on yourself and ask them to just exclude the bun all together. Less temptation for you and less wasted food!
Don't fall victim to a sorry salad! Salad often seems the easiest route to avoid bad foods, but a flavourless, boring salad with little more than iceberg, one tomato a slice of cucumber will leave you feeling deprived and less likely to make the healthy choice next time. If however a salad loaded with deliciousness is on the menu - great! Just consider swapping the ranch dressing or sugar-loaded vinaigrette by asking for some olive oil, vinegar and maybe a squeeze of lemon.
Now permit me a divergence from food for one last point; when on holiday, make exercise a given. You have the time, so whether or not it's part of your day isn't even a question. This way if you do overindulge on the food front, you've got it covered. Some gentle exercise every day to invigorate the body, relax the mind and stave off unwanted holiday 'gains'. It doesn't have to be gruelling - a gentle walk along the beach, rent a bike and cycle around the town, swim some laps of the pool or explore the city by throwing on a pair of trainers and going for a gentle jog. Trust me - exercise will keep you feeling vibrant physically and emotionally whilst enjoying your holiday indulgences.
Happy travels everyone :)