Why do we work hard at the gym and punish ourselves with faddy diets before going on holiday only to eat badly and drink too much when we are actually away? The best thing for our bodies and our figures would be to have a balanced healthy diet and good exercise regime year round, and maintain this healthy attitude whilst we are on holiday. There are some simple things you can do to try to stay healthy on holiday.
Make sure that you are doing something to keep active whilst on holiday, why not set yourself a challenge, such as walking around to explore a city rather than relying on taxis or a rental car, or swim 100 lengths of the pool each day. Lots of hotels have great gyms, why not round up your party and have a group gym session- I made two of my cousins and Jack run 10k with me whilst on holiday last year.
We also had tennis matches each evening and held a kayak race, fun ways to get in some exercise (yes we are a very competitive family!). If your hotel doesn’t have any sporting facilities why not make the effort to take the stairs rather than lift, or go for a walk or run around the hotel area each morning before breakfast. I would have run around Verona if I had had space in my carry-on luggage for my trainers. After all the pasta we ate I really regretted not making space for them. Another great tip is to rent a bike, it’s a great way to explore.
Try to stick to water throughout the day when on holiday (and at home) rather than fizzy drinks, beers and cocktails as it is easy to get dehydrated and for unexpected calories to build up. I am definitely someone who enjoys cocktails and wine in the evening, especially on holiday, but I do this guiltlessly knowing that I have drunk plenty of water throughout the day. Try to choose cocktails that aren’t too sugary- I am a big fan of a good ol’ gin and tonic. Drinking wine spritzers are a great way of drinking (a little) more water and reducing your alcohol intake. Bring a water bottle and fill up at restaurants and cafes to save money too, as long as you’re in a country where it is safe to drink the tap water, otherwise check the seal on all bottled water. When I’m in countries where it is best to stick to bottled water, I opt for sparkling water as it is easier to tell if the bottle has been tampered with. If you’re flying, make sure you bring a bottle of water to drink on the plane, most flight attendants will fill it up if you ask nicely!
Breakfast- the most important meal of the day. And yet strangely it can be one of the hardest to get right when you’re on holiday, unless you are staying somewhere with a large buffet breakfast. In Italy we found it hard enough to find a cafe open for breakfast, let alone one with healthy options. It seems the Italians are merely after an espresso at 9.30 am!
Char and I ended up with croissants, cappuccinos, muffins, mini pizzas and cake as our breakfast options. Here is where the ‘Do as I say, not as I do’ mantra comes in. What we should have done was stop by a supermarket and picked up some fruit and yogurt, or any combo you want, and eaten it in our hotel. Our hotel was in fact a B and B and even had a kitchen- we have no excuse. You could also pick up food to make a packed lunch at the supermarket, deli or market, delicious and cheap! An alternative to buying breakfast would be to bring it with you in the form of mini cereal or muesli packets- a friend of mine just pours milk straight into the pack. It is usually quite straight forward to buy milk from a local cafe, or supermarket, a less attractive option would be to pack UHT for emergencies. If eating out, try to choose healthy options that are going to keep you full for longer- omelettes are a great option! You can also ask your server if you can have an egg poached rather than fried or brown toast instead of white- this is easier when you don’t have a language barrier to contend with!
Pack a snack
With all the exercise you will be doing you will get hungry, and whether you are on a city break or staying at a resort, healthy snack choices are usually not that readily available. Bring some nuts, dried fruit and cereal bars with you. They slip easily into a day or beach bag and can be brought out when you get peckish. Fruit is also a good option if you are travelling for a short period (and not through tough customs!) or if you find a nice supermarket or market nearby. Even McDonalds do fruit snack packs which are good in a tight situation.
This is not the sort of snack I should have had in Verona…
Choose one splurge meal a day and enjoy it. You are on holiday and you should enjoy it. It’s important to try local cuisines and you’re not going to do that properly if you are worried about calorie counting all the time. In Italy we ate a lot of pasta, in Las Vegas we made sure to stop by In N Out Burger, as with anything, it’s all in moderation. Remember you are only on holiday for a short time, you can get back to your healthier lifestyle when you get home. However, it is very tempting to opt for 3 courses each evening meal- why not share a starter and dessert, you’ll still feel like you’ve had a treat but without going overboard.