It’s an age-old question: “How can I stay healthy on holiday?”
We’ve all been there. We’ve struggled through months of lettuce, kale, hunger pangs, and porridge while trying to get bikini confident, and we aren’t about to ruin all our hard work with an indulgent week filled with holiday food and little-to-no exercise!
Then there are the inevitable expected grumbles of “you’re on holiday,” “enjoy yourself,” “surely a week won’t hurt?”. There is an element of truth to these statements and you can allow yourself to slightly cling on to the edge of the bandwagon without falling off completely and piling back on those pesky pounds. However, it is important for your own mindset, personal motivation, and that waistline you’ve been shrinking to enforce maximum damage control where possible — you don’t want to come home feeling as though you’re back to square one, after all.
It can be all too easy to throw your hands up and have a blowout when in holiday mode, and who could blame you? With all the advice out there surrounding healthy eating whilst travelling, it really is no surprise that we end up confused or ready to give up. We don’t want to become the bore who turns up laden with freezer bags of pre-made meals in case the diet-imploding McDonalds comes into sight. Sometimes, you just need to take a step back from the diet books and focus on keeping some basic principles in mind to ensure you still enjoy your holiday without straying too far from the track you’re beginning to tread quite well.
1. Destination is crucial
Let’s tackle the first hurdle before we even get there. If you’re thinking of opting for an all-inclusive week’s holiday in Italy, the pizza, pasta, garlic bread, and the array of rich sauces have already gained us an inch before stepping on the plane. Some places will make resisting temptation a lot harder than others. Determine an appropriate location where you know healthier options and meal flexibility will be readily available. Now, this doesn’t mean a stay on an organic health farm, it just means that a bit of forethought and research can help you out massively.
The UK offers endless opportunities for an unforgettable holiday for the health conscious. The beautiful rolling hills of the Lake District provide a maze of enjoyable family walks, hikes, and bike rides. These kinds of active pastimes come hand-in-hand with a trip to this corner of the UK, so it won’t seem strange to suggest such activities – the perfect way to sneak in a bit of low-impact cardio. The more remote a location, the more scope for getting outside without it being such a conscious decision.
Excursions in regions such as these will also lead to cheaper days out. Think horse riding, boat trips, and canoeing as opposed to bowling, shopping, cinema trips, and theme parks! The pretty panoramic views are also a good excuse for taking the longer scenic route when out exploring!
2. Type of accommodation
The key here is self-catering. We all like the added luxury of being cooked for, pampered, and generally avoiding all the mundane chores we associate with home life. However, this is a haven for calorie-dense foods sneaking in. Home-cooked food, bought by yourself and prepared by yourself, is the best option when it comes to knowing exactly what you are putting into your mouth.
A large cottage or a caravan with a spacious family kitchen will allow you to create delicious hearty meals for everyone to sit around and tuck into without the need for eating out, purchasing convenience food, or ordering in takeaways — all the foods we are trying to avoid.
3. Food preparation
You are probably sick of hearing the infamous manta “preparation is key,” but although I hate to admit it, it really is key. Now, this definitely does not mean cracking open your carrot sticks and hummus whilst everyone else enjoys scones topped with cream and jam, it just means having healthy snack alternatives and meal options for everyone while you’re out on the go. Instead of picking up a bar of chocolate from the local shop, have an apple or cereal bar from your bag. Instead of treating the family to a burger and chips, pack a picnic spread of wholesome nutritious foods with the occasional treat thrown in — nothing excites a child more than expelling from the norm anyway, and eating outside definitely ticks this box.
4. Visit the farmer’s market
No matter where you are staying, this is consistently my favourite “tourist” spot. It offers a front row seat to take in the local people and culture, while allowing you to sample the best fresh food and local produce the area has to offer. A visit to the farmer’s market is a great opportunity to pick up yummy but healthy snacks for the week.
5. Treat alternatives
This is where the fun begins. There is always room for a sweet treat. Restricting yourself can increase the chances of giving in and binging, so instead of saying no to anything sugary or beige in colour, get creative and add a healthy kick to your favourite treats!
Cook up a storm in the kitchen and wake everyone up with sweet potato pancakes, whip up a decadent dessert of banana nice cream for after dinner, or pack a box of raw chocolate orange brownies as a pick-me-up during your afternoon hike!
The last thought I’m going to leave you with is moderation. Yes, you can have snacks. Yes, you can have that caramel hot chocolate with cream in that adorable tearoom. Yes, you can have a few of those chocolate cookies with your cup of tea. Remember, you are on holiday and you can treat yourself. If you have managed to keep the majority of your food intake as healthy as possible throughout the day, the odd treat won’t harm you. It takes an extra 3,500 calories to add a pound of weight after all, so be a bit lenient — and good luck with that post-holiday run!