We spoke to qualified nutritionist Kim Pearson about how to eat well and stay healthy while on vacay
It can often be a license to go all out – sun, sand, ice-cream on tap – and that’s before the elaborate (and sugary) cocktails and exotic crisps.
As well as avoiding piling on the pounds while travelling, it’s a good idea to make rest and nutrition a priority while you soak up the sun.
But having fun and treating ourselves doesn’t have to result in post-holiday guilt and overindulgence. We spoke to a Harley Street nutritionist about pushing the boat out in a slightly more balanced way.
Avoid flight food
“It’s prepared hours in advance and engineered to taste good at height despite human taste buds not working well in the air,” explains Kim. “Plenty of undesirable ingredients are used to achieve this. Many airports have a Pret or Itsu with fresh, healthy options you can take on board with you.
Or, if your flight is relatively short or your body is used to fasting periods, consider skipping food altogether and stick to just water or bring your own pre-prepared snacks.
Practice mindful eating
Eat slowly, chew food thoroughly and recognise when you are starting to feel full. Avoid over eating. Before eating a treat, take a moment to ask yourself if you’re really going to enjoy it. Or are you eating that ice cream simply because you’re on holiday and it’s an ingrained association.
Get enough sleep
Jet lag and long journeys can compromise sleep and disrupt your body clock which in turn can increase hunger and lead to overeating. Lack of sleep causes an increase in levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin and reduces levels of the satiety hormone leptin. This can lead you to feel hungrier and less satisfied from the food you do eat. If you have a late night, allow yourself a lie in or get a nap in later in the day. Do your best to allow time for rest.
If you’ve not yet booked your accommodation, take into consideration how where you stay will impact your food choices. Self catering accommodation can give you more control over what you eat. If you’re eating out at restaurants, it can be helpful to check the menu on their website prior to arrival. This gives you chance to make a plan in advance and identify
the healthier options. You can do the same if you’re staying in a hotel and want to check out your breakfast and in-room dining options in advance.
Consider setting a limit around treat foods. For example, you might choose to have a maximum of one sweet treat per day, such as a pastry, ice cream or dessert or eat more healthily during the day so you can indulge in that pizza you’ve been dreaming about all afternoon.
Structure your meals correctly
If you eat three meals a day, aim to have two healthy, balanced meals per day structured around protein, healthy fats and plenty of vegetables / salad as usual. Then for one meal per day, you can be more flexible and choose whatever you like. Often it can work best to save your flexible meal until dinner. Starting your day with a nutritious breakfast will set positive
tone for the day. Going overboard with pastries and pancakes at the breakfast buffet, not so much.
Pack portable healthy snacks such as KetoHana bars or Nibble Protein bites. These can be useful for plane journeys and to keep with you on days out. You can also have these before eating out to prevent excess hunger that could lead to overeating at meals.
Practice mindful drinking
Be mindful of how much you are drinking. Choose lower sugar drinks like dry wine and Champagne or good quality white spirits with slimline tonic or soda. For trips of a week or more, ideally have a couple of days free from any alcohol. Always have something to eat before having an alcoholic drink. This will slow the release of alcohol into your bloodstream.
Avoid the ‘all or nothing’ mentality
Aim to move away from an all or nothing mentality. It is possible to strike a balance between enjoying yourself and not overdoing it. If you do end up over indulging, don’t beat yourself up about it. But don’t let it trigger a spiral of excess. Simply get up the next day and start your day with a large glass of water and a healthy breakfast, or an extended fasting
window to give your digestive system a rest.
Make a plan
Even if you’re not working with a nutritionist you can still take the time to make a plan in advance. Consider what you can do to strike a balance between enjoying yourself but not going OTT. Can you get in a daily walk? Include vegetables at all of your meals? Keep a water bottle handy to ensure you get two litres a day? Write the plan down and keep it somewhere where you can refer back to it.
Kim Pearson is a qualified nutritionist and weight loss specialist