All year we look forward to those two weeks — hitting the beach with the family, lying on a sun lounger with your favourite book…and filling your boots at the buffet.
Holidays are the opportunity to let our hair down, relax and treat ourselves. But we all know that three-course breakfasts, endless baguettes, daily ice-cream treats and an earlier-than-ever wine o’clock can take its toll on our waistlines.
So what if you don’t want to come home with excess bodily baggage? We asked Harley Street nutritionist Kim Pearson, who specialises in weight loss and maintenance, how to have a fabulous break, tuck into some tempting treats and feel just as good on the flight home as you did on the one out.
Harley Street nutritionist Kim Pearson, (pictured) who specialises in weight loss and maintenance, advises on to have a fabulous break and tuck into some tempting treats
Holidays are the opportunity to let our hair down, relax and treat ourselves. But we all know that daily ice-cream treats can take its toll on our waistlines
Here are her top tips to help you avoid gaining that dreaded holiday half stone . . .
PASS ON THE PLANE FOOD
‘My budget airline in-flight meal was delicious,’ said no one ever. Unless you’re lucky enough to travel first class, airline catering is unlikely to be any tastier than the little plastic tray it comes on.
Being at altitude on a flight affects our ability to taste sweet and salty food, meaning airline meals often contain higher levels of salt and sugar than food at ground level, making them very unhealthy.
What I always advise my clients is to pause and consider ‘is it really worth it?’ before eating something that isn’t nutritionally optimal.
Are you honestly going to get any enjoyment from that salty, soggy lasagne and rock-hard bread roll?
If it’s a short flight, then you may not need to eat at all.
If it’s a longer flight, then I suggest nipping into a Pret, Itsu or Boots at the airport and picking up something tastier and healthier — a salad, some unroasted nuts or even a bar of dark (minimum 70 per cent cocoa) chocolate.
Focus on that first, blissful glass of chilled wine or bubbly that you’re going to enjoy when you arrive at your destination, instead.
BEWARE THE BREAKFAST BUFFET
Stretching the length of the dining room and groaning with everything from waffles and pastries to sausage and bacon, going overboard at a hotel’s breakfast buffet is easily done.
If your willpower isn’t great, why put yourself through it? If room service is on offer, it might be worth eating breakfast in your room and ordering just one dish to avoid the temptation of making multiple trips to the buffet.
And definitely try to swerve it if you’re suffering a hangover — you’ll be more likely to overeat, send your blood sugar through the roof and a couple of hours later you’ll be peckish again and reaching for those Danish pastries you pocketed.
Kim says that if room service is on offer, it might be worth eating breakfast in your room and ordering just one dish
If you do go to the dining room, make sure you start with protein — such as an omelette. This will fill you up and stop you over-indulging.
If you start your breakfast with a refined carbohydrate such as toast, or fruit juice, your blood sugar will spike, making your body less efficient at burning fat — so save the fruit plate for the end of the meal, if you need it at all.
There’s no need for a three-course breakfast — remember you’ve got a fortnight to try all the different choices. A good tip is to save the indulgent dish — the waffles and pancakes, perhaps — for the last morning. It will be a great last breakfast and you won’t be able to repeat it the next day!
MAKE YOUR ICE CREAM EXTRA CREAMY
Who doesn’t enjoy some delicious ice cream on holiday? But if you’re someone who always opts for sorbet instead, then think again — it’s not the healthier option you imagine.
Sorbet is pure sugar. If you want ice cream then have the real thing, which will contain fat and some protein that will slow the release of the sugar.
Have it in a cup, not a cone and if you choose one really delicious flavour then you won’t need to add any extras, such as sugary sprinkles and syrups, either.
Incorporate it with a walk — your muscles will utilise the sugar for immediate energy, rather than storing it as fat.
BREAK OUT THE BUBBLY
Kim advises that Brut Nature is the driest Champagne you can get, followed by Extra Brut — the drier it is, the lower the sugar content
It’s a given that most of us will drink more alcohol on holiday than we usually do. Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you to stick to sparkling water, but I do advise setting yourself a drink deadline. For example, some of my clients decide they won’t have their first drink until 5pm.
Breaks abroad are special occasions, so why not celebrate with some Champagne or a crisp dry white wine? Any wine that’s classed as ‘dry’ has to have a maximum of five grams of sugar per litre, which means less than a teaspoon per bottle.
Brut Nature is the driest Champagne you can get, followed by Extra Brut — the drier it is, the lower the sugar content.
And if you’re a glugger, try this trick: order a glass of water and, if you’re right-handed, place the water on your right side and the alcohol on your left. It will slow down your drinking as you’ll naturally reach for your glass of water more often.
Kim says: ‘Sorbet is pure sugar. If you want ice cream then have the real thing, which will contain fat and some protein that will slow the release of the sugar…’
REFUSE NIBBLES TO AVOID SNACK ATTACK
When was the last time you ate one crisp? How about a single, salted peanut? One paltry pretzel? It doesn’t happen, does it?
If you’re staying in a smart hotel or visiting an upmarket bar, then you may well receive a tray of nibbles when you order a drink.
Once they’re there in front of you, chances are you’ll just mindlessly keep dipping into the salted snacks and won’t even register that you’re eating them.
So, do yourself a favour and ask your waiter to take the tray away.
On the other hand, if olives are on offer, help yourself! They’re high in good fats but don’t have the moreish factor of crisps or salted nuts, meaning you won’t eat dozens of them.
DAILY DELIGHT TO TREAT THE TASTEBUDS
No ONE wants to feel deprived on holiday but, equally, no one wants to return home a dress size larger.
Giving yourself a daily treat is something you may want to try. The simple act of choosing something and giving yourself permission to enjoy it will give you the opportunity to relish your treat without guilt.
Often when we have an unplanned treat it can lead to feelings of guilt followed by a ‘to hell with it’ attitude — and before you know it you’re eating too many of the wrong things with abandon.
Settle on something you’re going to love — savour every mouthful and stop eating as soon as you start to feel full. Avoid eating to the point where you’re ready to be rolled out of the restaurant.
MAKE FRIENDS WITH YOUR BARMAN
If sipping cocktails by the pool is your holiday plan, then befriending the barman is a good idea.
‘Mixologists love a challenge, and you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to enjoy a refreshing cocktail that isn’t loaded with sugar,’ Kim says
Some classic cocktails, such as pina colada, can contain more sugar and fat than a slice of chocolate cake. Instead, ask your bartender if he or she can make something without sugar, juice or syrup.
Once, my holiday hotel barman hollowed out a coconut, blended some of the flesh with coconut water and added a shot of Malibu and Bacardi. It was so delicious they added it to the menu.
Mixologists love a challenge, and you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to enjoy a refreshing cocktail that isn’t loaded with sugar.
TAKE CONTROL OF THE ALL-INCLUSIVE
If you’re heading off on an all-inclusive holiday or cruise, where food and drink are part of the package, then the temptation is to ‘get your money’s worth’ by eating and drinking everything in sight.
Rather than heading blindly to a restaurant, study the menu beforehand, choose what you’ll eat and stick to it. This will save you from feeling overwhelmed by choice.
Before having a snack or drink, pause for a moment to see if you’re really hungry or just eating out of habit. Mindless grazing is nowhere near as enjoyable as savouring food when your body needs it.
Kim says: ‘Don’t jump on the scales as soon as you return. Flying can cause us to retain water, meaning you may be carrying water weight rather than fat…’
Instead of thinking, ‘I’ve paid a premium, so I’m going to eat everything’, think, ‘I’ve paid a premium, so I’m going to ask the chef to make something just for me’.
Ordering off menu will make you feel like a VIP, and you’ll be able to eat something delicious and healthy — a steak and salad perhaps — made just for you.
DON’T BRING BAD HABITS HOME
The holiday is over — but don’t be tempted to stay in holiday mode. Often, we’ll arrive home to an empty fridge and order a take-away or carry on having wine with every meal.
Draw a line in the sand and settle on a day to get back to normal eating and drinking. If you arrive home on a Friday, end those holiday habits on Monday.
WAIT A WEEK BEFORE YOU WEIGH IN
Don’t jump on the scales as soon as you return. Flying can cause us to retain water, meaning you may be carrying water weight rather than fat. Many of us also suffer holiday constipation, often as a result of dehydration.
Instead, wait five to seven days for a more accurate reading.