Enjoying your holiday without ruining your diet

On Sunday, I’m heading off for a few days’ holiday on Sunday, in the Lake District (an area of the UK known for its outstanding natural beauty, lakes and potential for long walks…)

My problem with going away is that my brain tends to switch firmly into “holiday” mode – which means “anything goes!” I end up eating cake for breakfast, snacking between meals, eating far too much dinner. Once I managed to put on six pounds in a week … I’d been trying to diet too strictly beforehand and as soon as holiday time came, I went straight for all the foods I’d been denying myself.

Now that I’m maintaining my weight, rather than trying to lose more, the pressure’s off. If I put on a pound or two, I can just cut back for a couple of weeks and lose it again. Even so, I’m going to be a bit more sensible this time and minimise the damage, following the main three things I’ve learned from years of holiday weight-gain:

  1. Don’t eat everything just because it’s there My worst times are when food is included in the price of something – I always feel obliged to eat as much as possible to get my money’s worth! If this is your attitude too, try asking yourself:
    • Do I genuinely like this? Never eat something that isn’t especially nice just because it’s there.
    • How large a percentage of the overall cost does it represent? (If you’re travelling by plane, that plastic meal costs the airline a miniscule amount compared to the flight itself.)
    • Can I cut back at my next meal to make up for this? (Breakfast is often provided in hotels and guest-houses; here in the UK, it’s often a “full English” – sausage, bacon, eggs, baked beans, fried bread. If you’ve had a large breakfast, just have a sandwich for a late lunch.)
  2. Get lots of exercise – walking, trying out some new things Holidays are a brilliant chance to move around – you’ve got all day, so fit in plenty of activity! If you can, try out some new sports: this obviously depends on your location, but rowing, climbing, horse riding, swimming and water sports are all great possibilities.Of course, it’s even better if your holiday itself is active – maybe you’re off ski-ing or on a biking or walking holiday. Even if you’re just sightseeing, get a map and walk to different places – sometimes the things which might strike you most are the everyday aspects of a city; graffiti, little shops, market stalls…
  3. Keep to a few basics Don’t try to keep rigidly to your diet while you’re on holiday – it’s good to take a break. Let yourself have a few extra treats that you wouldn’t normally indulge in: perhaps a mid-afternoon ice-cream, or chips for lunch. But try to stick to just a few very basic healthy eating guidelines:
    • Five a day Suddenly changing what you eat can cause problems for your digestive system: make sure you get your five-a-day. That might mean having fruit salad for breakfast, or a side dish of vegetables at dinner – so often also helps with keeping your calorie intake reasonable!
    • Plenty of water If you’re doing a lot of walking, or if you’re staying somewhere hot, drinking plenty of water is vital. (Make sure you know whether or not the tap water where you’re staying is safe – if not, boil it before drinking, or buy bottled water.) Even mild dehydration can make you feel headachy and lethargic, and many people mistake thirst for hunger.
    • Alcohol in moderation! Being on holiday often involves rather more alcohol than you’d usually drink. Knowing you don’t have to get up for work in the morning might mean you enjoy an extra beer or glass of wine in the evening. Try to have one or two nights when you don’t drink, though; alcohol increases your appetite and decreases your willpower, often leading to over-eating.
  4. There’ll still be posts on The Office Diet while I’m away next week: make sure that you’ve bookmarked the site, or that you’ve subscribed to the RSS feed so you don’t miss out!

    (Image above by Matt Seppings)


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