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Healthy Holiday Eating

Posted by Samantha Rentz on July 30th 2012
  • It’s almost summer and I’m daydreaming about holidays. Ash clouds and strikes be damned, I’m dying to escape!

The thing I love most about a vacation is the chance to try yummy new foods. The problem is that after all that holiday eating, I often return home with extra pounds for souvenirs instead of postcards and perfume.

So this year I’m going to find healthier ways to holiday. Here are the healthy holiday eating tips and tricks that have worked a treat in the past – only this year I hope to remember them all at the same time and reduce the holiday weight gain!

Holiday eating tip: research your destination

I like to find out what’s good to eat so I know exactly what’s worth the calories. I scour food blogs for insider information on local delicacies and restaurant gems as well as healthy holiday food ideas.

Where can I get a good pub lunch in the Lake District? Where’s the yummiest hot chocolate in Paris? Where’s the best pizza in New York?

Tracking down these places is an adventure in itself, and I don’t waste my time and stomach space on average food in touristy areas when eating out.

Healthy holiday tip: create a buffer of buffness before you go

The strategy I use here is to ramp up my exercise and healthy eating in the weeks leading up to holiday. If I’m feeling fit before I go, and on top of my holiday weight loss goals, that groovy feeling tends to stay with me and I’m less likely to go overboard.

Holiday eating tip: go easy on the plane

It took me years to realize the obvious – you don’t have to eat every meal they give you! Down on the ground I don’t eat crappy pretzels or honey roasted peanuts containing five different kinds of sugar, so why did I scoff them in the sky? It all adds up to a holiday weight gain!

Now I pack healthy holiday snacks like fruit, nuts or Raw food bars. And if I’m on a long haul flight back to my native Australia, I set my watch to the local time zone so my stomach can start adjusting right away.

If the trolley comes round and it’s 2AM in Sydney, I skip the meal because I wouldn’t eat in the middle of the night if I was at home. I’ll then have one of my own snacks at a more appropriate time. This way I don’t end up eating more than I need to.

Healthy holiday eating tip: choose one meal per day to indulge

I’m on holiday, so I accept that I’ll be eating more calorific foods than normal. But I’ve often gone too far, viewing EVERY holiday meal as an opportunity to go food crazy.

The best tactic is to allocate just one indulgent meal per day, or two at the very most. For example, eat a simple, healthy fruit and yogurt breakfast and a light salad for dinner, but with a long and slightly boozy lunch in the middle. And maybe a wee gelato cone in the afternoon!

Healthy holiday tip: walk walk walk!

There’s no better time for a good wander than when you’re in a new holiday location and it helps compensate for the extra eating.

I always reserve one day to get up extra early and head out with my camera to snap photos in the lovely morning light before the crowds descend.

Holiday eating tip: raid the local supermarket

Snooping in foreign markets and supermarkets is great fun – whether foreign means the next town over or the other side of the world.

There’s always some weird but healthy vegetable or wacky new holiday food brand to admire. I buy healthy yogurt to eat for breakfast and fresh fruit for snacks.

And when my wallet and belly are tiring of giant restaurant portions, it’s easy to pick up some fresh salads, bread and cheese to assemble an affordable makeshift dinner and minimize the weight gain while on holiday. Which brings me to…

Holiday eating tip: have fork, will travel

I always pack a sturdy plastic knife, fork and spoon, so I’m ready for a hotel supper or an impromptu picnic.

Sometimes I just keep the cutlery set from the plane. If you’re bringing your own, just make sure to put the knife in your checked luggage to avoid having to explain that you’re not a terrorist, you’re just really hungry!

Post holiday eating tip: get back on track as soon as you get home

It’s so easy to let the holiday drag on when I get home. The key is to resume normal service as soon as possible, but I try to ease in gently.

I’ll be tired, possibly jet-lagged and moping around with back to work blues so the last thing I want to think about is what’s for dinner.

I make sure there’s a few meals in the freezer and place an online grocery order before so it appears on the doorstep like magic the day after I get back.

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