Many of my clients fear holidays. They realize the goal is weight loss, but there’s the ever present ‘devil on the shoulder’ called holiday indulgence. Holiday Indulgence is the ever present whisper encouraging excess. The obstacles people are faced with when on holiday are 2 fold:
- Being out of routine: it throws us, we aren’t in our set pattern, and healthy eating is part of that set pattern.
- Being in an area where you can’t always be in control of your meals: your choices are take aways, restaurants or cooked meals other people make.
To address all these issues, I decided to give you a couple of tips based on my recent travel experience to London.
First issue – routine has flown away much like discipline. It’s really hard to focus on the timing of meals, because you are unsure when and where your meals will be. It’s one of the worst issues about holidays and healthy eating- trying to get into routine. We are all creatures of habit and so we work best in routine.
For the first two days of the holiday, try to feel out the ‘food rhythm’ of the holiday. For example, identify whether the holiday is a breakfast, lunch or supper holiday- in other words, when you frequently have the biggest meal: breakfast, lunch or dinner.
My holiday, was a lunch holiday. Due to touring all day long, it was inevitable that we would start hunting down food by the time Big Ben “tongued” 1 pm. Once this is established, create your routine: Restaurant meal for lunch, modest meal for breakfast and supper.
SIMPLE Breakfast: toast with (in my case) peanut butter- no big English breakfast
SNACK: dried fruit (easy to carry)
Lunch: Restaurant meal
SNACK: dried fruit (easy to carry)
SIMPLE Supper: basic salad or very small quantity of food – no big Restaurant meals
The Art of Restraint
Being in a different country, especially one that requires a half pound of flesh to get into, for us poor South Africans, it would really seem like a half-hearted effort to not immerse yourself fully in the country’s culture. Pub lunches and high teas all come to mind. Why not enjoy these things? You can, if you can stop – stop yourself from over doing it.
High tea: what a treat! Dainty sandwiches, lemon meringue and jam on scones, these are a few of my favourite things.
Unfortunately, these are just treats, and should be eaten with caution and concern for the abdominal area. The key rule is avoid high sugar and high fat foods. So for high teas, I took 2 cucumber sandwiches, left the bacon sandwich and took only one of my favourite treats- the lemon meringue cakelet. I stress that the cakelet is just a treat and as hard as it is, restraint needs to be imposed!
The Food Part
Read the menu. Don’t stop on the first part of the sentence and think the meal will be ok. “Tenderized fillet of chicken” sounds great until the sentence continues with chirizo and creamed jelly. The kilojoules in the first part of the sentence sound quite modest, but the 20% extra kilojoules sneak up on you from the other side of the
sentence. Be careful. Check the meal for added fats and sugars!
The difficulty is, what if there are no good options on the menu? What happens if you find yourself in a pub, watching the soccer, whilest mulling over the menu? The answer is two-fold. Choose the less of all evils on the menu (the option that seems to have the least in fats and sugars) and then secondly, upon arrival of your plate, dissect your meal by removing anything high in fat or sugar.
Choosing the meal. Remember that kilojoule packed foods are sugary or fatty foods, so avoid deep fried foods, saucy foods, cheesy foods.
Dissecting the meal. Keep the meal simple, no extra frills and fusses. Choose 1 protein, choose 1 starch, and cut small portions.
- Chicken burger
Proteins on the plate are chicken, ham and cheese. Choose 1. I chose the healthiest being chicken, so the rest had to unfortunately go…
The starches on the plate were chips and the roll. I chose the roll as my one starch, but this was quite big, so I only had half the bun.
- Vegetarian burger
Proteins on this plate: falafels
Starch on this plate: falafels and the bun – My mom chose the falafels and salad.
She also avoided the sauce.
- Traditional fish and mashy peas
Protein: deep fried fish- remove the batter
Starch: mashy peas and deep fried chips. My aunt chose the peas (less added fats) and avoided the chips.
Food on the move
Prepacked meals for picnics in sunny, green London parks or just while you are on the move can really be quite convenient, but be careful. Check the label. Foods that you assume aren’t that high in kilojoules may surprise you.
The Big Question – Did it work?
These are just a few tips to help you out when you are away from home. To those that believe its impossible to lose weight on holiday and still enjoy yourself, well the proof is in the pudding so to speak. I lost 1KG!