Is it possible to avoid weight gain while on holiday?! The research clearly highlights that holiday weight gain is an issue for most of us, with 61% of adults gaining weight while on holiday. This weight gain also varies widely, from 0.5 kg to 3 kg. It then takes us anything from 2-8 weeks to lose the weight we have gained. While you might think that summer holidays with the magical combination of sun and being outside, might result in less weight gain than over the Christmas period, the research highlights that we also gain weight on summer holidays too. Mince alors!
So can we have ‘fun in the sun’ without gaining weight? Yes, we can! With a drum roll here are my 10 ‘Insider tips’ to help you manage your weight during the summer holidays:
1. Focus on fun rather than food
Let’s be clear, holidays should be about enjoying more time with our friends and families. – being able to explore new places, being outdoors, having a flexible agenda and switching off from work. Yet, so many times we make food the focus of our holidays! A holiday should not be about obsessing about food and restaurants. We should be very aware of the pleasure (and privilege!) of having additional precious leisure time to spend with the people we love most in the world. This is truly what a holiday should be about.
2. Find non-food related ways of ‘treating yourself’
This leads me nicely on to my second top tip for avoiding weight gain. Yes, you can certainly ‘treat’ yourself on holiday after a period of working hard, but these treats do not have to always be food related! Book a massage, find a spa, try a new activity which you’ve always wanted to do (mine was kite surfing!). Possibly even more satisfying and much better for the waist line than treating yourself with food!
3. Keep your usual meal structure in place
Your meal structure does not need to change on holiday either. You don’t need to switch to a 24/7 nonstop holiday food fest if you generally stick to 3 meals a day when you are at home. Aim to follow your usual meal structure and your normal routine.
4. Be conscious of snacking
Snacking and alcohol are in my opinion, the reasons for summer holiday weight gain! And, if you are enjoying regular meals, you do not really need snacks outside of these meals. While you might be moving more on holiday than when you are at home, you truly must move a lot more to justify eating more. It takes (approximately) 2.5 hours of walking to burn off the 250 calories in a large ice-cream…..!
5. Put the spot light on protein and vegetables
Why? Quite simply protein is more sating, so protein rich foods tend to keep us feeling full (and less likely to snack). Vegetables are full of fibre and add volume without too much energy. It’s also easy in hot weather to enjoy grilled fish, meat or poultry with a large serving of vegetables.
What about carbs? The one thing which can be tricky on holidays is finding ‘good quality’ unrefined carbs in the form of wholegrains. I’m not for a second asking you to avoid carbohydrates, I’d just advise you that if the only carb on offer is refined, to have a very moderate serving of it.
Holidays are a great opportunity to move. The challenge is to do 10,000 steps a day which is easier to achieve when you are moving around outside all day. This can help to prevent weight gain, though again, you’d have to exercise a lot for exercise alone to make a difference to your weight.
7. Hydrate (with water in all its glory!)
Keep that liquid (water) flowing and enjoy water in all its forms. Still, sparkling, infused…
Moderate fruit juices and smoothies as despite their health halo, they add additional energy to our diets and they are ‘oh so easy’ to drink in large amounts.
8. Be aware of your alcohol intake
While you can certainly enjoy a few drinks on your holiday, do be aware of the drinking limits – 14 units per week in the UK/10 small glasses in France and with at least 2 alcohol free days a week. These limits do not change because you are on holiday! Aside from the health impact, alcohol is high in calories and too much alcohol will have an impact on your weight.
9. Eat mindfully
I’m going to underline that we should be aiming to do this all the time, not just on holiday! Holidays though might be a good time to start if you are not practising this already as you do not have the usual time constraints and deadlines. So, try to savour your food and take time over your meals. While mindful eating does not necessarily help with weight loss, it might increase the sensory pleasure of a meal which means that we are less likely to snack later.
Tiredness, stress and the daily grind, can make it harder for us to plan, shop, prepare and eat balanced meals. So, holidays are a perfect time rest and recuperate. However tempting it is to do or see as much as possible, do factor in some downtime. The aim is for you to return home ‘renewed, recharged and raring to go’!