By Paul Scicluna
I love traveling and immersing myself in the different cultures, environments, experiences and foods, of course! Yes, I am human and I allow myself a few treats on vacation.
As I say to my clients, as long as most of the time you have a balanced diet full of good wholesome healthy food, your body will be able to cope with a bit of indulgence. Yet, I often see many people filling their plates with fatty, processed and non-nutritious foods, washed down with soft drinks or sodas.
Having worked in the health and weight loss industry as a certified personal trainer, nutrition specialist, and health coach, many clients tell me they need to get back into shape after over indulging on vacation. Some put on several pounds within just a couple of weeks by not having some healthy meals!
What’s more, before going on their break, some of them went to all that effort to lose weight beforehand so they could look fantastic in a bikini or bathers.
Now, the challenge is trying to lose that weight again. However, many people are de-motivated because they have post-vacation blues. So rather than making it hard for yourself next time, here are 5 simple tips for how to stay healthy when on vacation.
1. Portion control – whether you’re at a hotel/resort or self-catering accommodation, make sure you opt for the entree-sized plate, and not the main size. That way your portion sizes will be smaller and you may be less likely to have more food than you should. If there are no smaller plates then you don’t have to pile the food on!
2. Healthy meals - Aim to fill your plate with 2/3 fresh fruit and salads. These have high water content so will help fill you up and provide you with lots of nutrients. Plus, by having some raw foods the enzymes help with digestion unlike the cooked foods that have most of the enzymes cooked out of them.
There’s nothing worse than having a vacation and then you feel terrible because your body is overwhelmed with unhealthy foods.
3. Exercise! Now this is another way of keeping healthy on vacation. I’m not talking about running a half marathon every day, but make sure you get a decent amount of movement. And don’t think of it as “exercise.” Make it part of your holiday.
For example, walk to places of interest rather than taking a train or bus. Go and explore! More often than not, you’ll see and experience far more on foot. Therefore, if you do indulge a little, especially on not so healthy food, then you’ll still be burning up those calories.
4. Drink lots of water and good fluids – especially if you’re visiting a place with a warmer climate, as you’ll most likely sweat more. Therefore you’ll need to replenish the fluids you’ve lost plus some. I love going to places where they have the fresh coconut water – it really quenches my thirst, and provides me with nutrients and electrolytes (mother nature's energy drink)!
5. Do your research – read trip reviews and forums to understand the area you are visiting. When you get to your destination speak to the locals about where to go to get good healthy food, whether that be at a market or wherever. Sometimes language barriers are a challenge. You could get some of the basics from people before you go. And what also works often are pictures!
It really isn’t hard to stay healthy on a trip and have healthy meals. Be sensible but also allow a little indulgence if you’ve been good.