Who doesn’t love a good holiday? Whether it’s a beachy escape, a trip to the slopes or a city break, it’s a chance to rest and reset, to destress and to delight. Taking time off to relax is an important part of wellness – almost as much as all the other things that contribute to a healthy, happy life like eating well and moving your body. Healthy eating can quickly get forgotten and a few weeks of indulgence can easily turn into months if you’re the kind of person who finds it hard to get back on track afterwards.
In this blog, I’d like to help you create your holiday action plan, which doesn’t mean you have to deprive yourself while you’re away! As a nutritionist, I would recommend applying the 80/20 rule. 80% of the time you eat well, allowing space for treats on high days and holidays. It’s possible to stick close to this on holidays – if you choose to. So let’s recap what healthy eating actually looks like. At its most basic level ‘eating well’ involves eating real food almost all of the time (rather than processed foods) and getting a variety of different foods into your diet.
My Top Tips For Holiday Eating
1. Balance Your Blood Sugar Levels
This is the best way of helping you to start or continue to lose weight and improve health, easily and enjoyably. It works with your body’s natural design. It has been tested over decades and is backed by hundreds of scientific trials.
There are three simple rules
1. Eat regularly – ideally only three times a day!
2. ALWAYS eat protein at every meal
3. Be selective about the amount and type of starchy carbohydrates
2. Try To Eat A Rainbow
When I talk to clients about eating a rainbow, I am talking about eating a range of fruit and veg over the course of a week that are different colours.
Why? Coloured vegetables contain important plant chemicals called phytonutrients and these are bursting with disease-fighting antioxidants that can reverse some of the damage caused by our environment. Every different colour is linked to a specific group of plant chemicals and what we know about them is that the sum is greater than the individual parts.
They have a synergistic effect. Simply, the more colours you can get in over the course of a week, the better it is for your health.
Sometimes holidays mean it’s easier to do this – usually those where salads abound – and other holidays are notable for an absence of veggies on the menu. Do your best.
The Easy Way To Do Picnic Salads
Holidaying at home or self-catering? Packing up a salad before you head out for the day is a great idea. You might have seen mason jar salads on social media….
They’re a kind of upside-down way to make your salad but ensures the whole lot doesn’t go soggy by lunchtime. Simply empty it out onto a plate when you’re ready for it and the ingredients you put in first (the wetter ingredients) end up on the top, while the more delicate ingredients like the salad leaves end up on the bottom without being squashed.
Here’s how you make your own in 5 simple steps
- The dressing goes in first. This is important as it guarantees the leaves don’t get soggy. Add enough so it can (eventually) coat all your ingredients.
- Next pop in your robust veg like beetroot or fennel.
- You’d then add any softer fruit/veg like cucumber or green beans.
- Add a layer of protein – like tuna, chicken, egg, tofu – as well as any other things you’re using like cheese, nuts or seeds – those ingredients that you want to stay dry until just before you eat it.
- The leafy greens go in last. That way they’re kept nice and dry and, when you turn the jar over and empty onto your plate, the leaves make the salad bed
3. Eat A Little Snack Before You Hit The Town
Alcohol is essentially sugar, which spikes your blood sugar, leading to weight gain and cravings. It is, however, arguably a holiday essential. The key to not letting alcohol undo your good work is to have a little something with protein on before you go out. Try something like a little cottage cheese or unsweetened nut butter on an oatcake (if you can find them) or even a small handful of nuts. The protein will help offset the sugar in the alcohol.
Ideas For Low Carb Eating Abroad
Cyprus, Greece & Turkey
These countries are usually big on meat grilled over charcoals. There are many vegetable-based sides, salads and dips. You will be spoiled for choice. The easiest option is a meat kebab with grilled vegetables or a generous salad on a side. Example: olives and pickles or grilled halloumi, hummus without the bread, followed by any kebab or shawarma (without any side serving of bread) plus a generous salad.
The traditional cuisine relies on heavier, often fattier dishes, making easy for anyone wanting to go low carb or even keto over there. There’s lots of cooking in wine to add flavour, and grilled meats and seafood. Take care with the béchamel sauce, as it is flour-based. Example: charcuterie plate followed by cote de boeuf or entrecote (beef steak) without the fries but with green beans, sautéed spinach or green salad.
The Spanish invented the tapa; small portions you would often share. There are loads of options, from pimientos de Padron (fried green peppers), chorizo, gambas al ajillo (prawns in garlic), and so on. You might need to be protective of some of the dishes you order so you don’t end up with a bowl of patatas bravas (spicy potatoes) while others tuck into your low-carb goodies. Example: Jamon y queso (cured ham and cheese board) followed by steak, pringa (slow-cooked meat) or pinchitos (meat skewers) with a side salad or veggies.
Restaurants can be a bit of a temptation but there is a lot more to Italy than pizza and pasta. You’re sure to find some great cuts of meat and grilled fish, some amazing salads like tricolore (tomato, avocado, mozzarella) Example: mixed olives or nuts to pick at or a carpaccio (very thinly sliced meat or fish) followed by Pollo Prosciutto (chicken wrapped in ham) or Bistecca alla Fiorentina (steak) with a side salad or veggies.