Are you taking off for Christmas this year? Whether you’re spending Christmas in the sun, snow or mountains, going abroad for the holidays is a great way to unwind and take some well-deserved time off.
But how motivated are you to stay healthy on holiday? Between the breakfast buffet and lazing by the pool all day with a good book, it can be tough to eat well and stay active. Many of us return from holiday with sun kissed skin, a healthy glow and…five extra pounds.
If you’re on a weight loss plan or you’re a WW member, that holiday weight gain can undo your efforts over the previous weeks and months, and set you back when you return home.
Here’s how to enjoy your time abroad without sabotaging your health and fitness.
How to have a healthy holiday
If possible, eat before you arrive at the airport, so you’re not tempted by the fast food restaurants in the departure lounge.
Pack healthy snacks to avoid reliance on airline toasties, crisps and chocolate bars. Nuts, apples and energy bars make great snacks – why not try these mixed fruit, nut and seed bars?
Remember, you may not be able to take some types of food into the country you’re visiting, so check with the airline and eat or bin it before you leave the plane.
The cabin air and air conditioning in planes can also leave you feeling dehydrated, so remember to drink plenty of water during your journey too.
On holiday: sleep more, move more
If you’re going skiing over Christmas, great – you’ve already made plans to stay active over the holidays! If you’ve booked a beach break, however, it may be a different story.
It’s important to relax to reap the stress-relieving benefits of a holiday. Take the chance to catch up on your sleep, whether that’s enjoying a lie in, having naps or going to bed early – you don’t want to come back more exhausted than when you left! Sleep deprivation is also linked to weight gain. Check out this article explaining 5 health benefits of sleep (number two is linked to fat loss).
If you’re going to take a nap, try not to fall asleep on your sunbed! A little bit of sunshine can do wonders for our happiness and wellbeing, but be conscious of the need to apply sunscreen every two hours and take regular breaks from the sun.
Sneaking in some activity between all that sleep is also a great idea to keep on top of your health and wellbeing. If your hotel has a gym, or a scenic running or walking route nearby, why not squeeze a quick workout in before breakfast?
You could also integrate some typical holiday activities into your day. Make them fun so they don’t feel like exercise! Walks along the beach, sea kayaking, snorkelling, cycling and water sports are just some new ways to get moving on holiday.
Holiday healthy eating tips
Working activity into your morning means you can enjoy a big breakfast guilt-free. However, with everything you could ever want on offer, including cakes and pastries, the breakfast buffet is the epitome of temptation. Keep it healthy with eggs, fruit and natural yoghurt and remember to exercise portion control.
Treat yourself to a good lunch with starchy carbohydrates (pasta, rice, potatoes) to fuel the rest of your day, then aim to have a lighter dinner. Take advantage of the local cuisine, particularly if you’re staying by the ocean – oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and fresh tuna is packed with super healthy Omega 3.
Whatever you eat, remember to eat mindfully. That means practising distraction-free eating and focusing on really enjoying your food. If you’re a WW member you can learn the skill of mindful eating using the Headspace meditations on our app.
Going out for a drink? Try to avoid cocktails, which are full of sugar and sweet mixers like juice and fizzy drinks. Stick to one type of alcoholic beverage and alternate with glasses of water to stay hydrated (and minimise your hangover the next day).
Drinking lots of water during the day is also important, especially if you’re holidaying somewhere hot. Staying hydrated may also prevent overeating, as we can often mistake thirst for hunger. Keep your liquid levels up with water and snacks like watermelon, cucumber and strawberries which have a high water content.
In a nutshell – don’t deprive yourself of treats, but try to indulge in moderation.
If you’re returning home late at night, you may not have the time or energy to cook. That’s okay – just make sure you have a game plan in place for the next day to hop back on track, whether that’s going to the gym in the morning or stocking up the fridge with lots of healthy ingredients and ZeroPoint™ foods.