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Summer holidays ... .press your “ PAUSE ” button
Dear Ellen, This summer I am planning lots of travel and really want to take full advantage of all the wonderful different foods and cultures. How can I manage to maintain my healthy habits while vacationing in new places?
Vacation season is here! Summer is a time to unwind, celebrate, rejuvenate, see new places and try new things. However, it can sometimes make us uneasy about food and our healthy lifestyle. With a little savvy planning and an understanding of your personal “PAUSE” button, you can eat healthy anywhere and enjoy your well-deserved break even more!
PAUSE BUTTON = Eat when you're hungry, PAUSE, stop when satisfied
It sounds simple, but many of us have gotten out of the habit of paying attention to whether we are truly, physically hungry. Faced with over 200 food and drink choices per day, we are surrounded by opportunities. Particularly on vacation, we easily slip into an “I deserve it" or “let it go” mind-set which can set us up for eating even if we are not hungry, making undesired choices or overeating. A good way to monitor this is by PAUSING to ask yourself “am I hungry?” and if so “how hungry am I?” Try setting a personal hunger and fullness scale of 1(Starving) to 10 (too full) and then PAUSE. Try to set your intention before eating, how much do I need to maintain a comfortable “5” on my scale? If you go beyond your comfort zone, don’t beat yourself up or feel guilty, but learn from the experience for next time! It is such a shame to feel uncomfortable or guilty on holiday. Once you have gotten in the habit of PAUSING (you may even want to start practicing now), carry on with the following top 5 Summer Holiday P-A-U-S-E tips:
Pick healthy food and drink
Make healthful food choices that appeal to you whenever possible, seeking out especially local items you cannot find at home. Look for local restaurants with regional products since the less distance food has travelled, the more nutrients it typically retains. Grilled or steamed cooking methods are more likely to be healthier than fried. Aim to get the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, discovering new options from your destination. By beginning your meals with fruits and vegetables you might even “crowd out” less healthy choices. Kicking off with fruit at the breakfast buffet, for example, might help you be less hungry for bakery goods on your second round. Starting a meal with a summer soup or salad may help you devour less French fries. Shop the local market (or supermarket) for healthy snacks like fruits, nuts, grains or a Juice PLUS+ Complete Bar to keep you satisfied (around a 5 on your scale…) and not feeling overly hungry or deprived which has been shown to lead to overeating.
Traveling and being out in the sun more than your body is used to can dehydrate, so target drinking the recommended 1.5 litres of water per day taking into consideration your exercise, environment, weather and alcohol consumption. Generally, if you drink enough fluid so that you rarely feel thirsty and your urine is colourless or light yellow, your fluid intake is probably adequate. We tend to loosen up on vacation and drink more calories. A moderate alcohol intake is defined as up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men and exceeding this could sabotage your health. One good way to make sure you stay hydrated if drinking alcohol is to drink a glass of water in between each alcoholic drink. Keeping a fancy water bottle with you when you’re out can also help ensure you drink from it throughout the day!
Dare to ask for adjustments to the menu in restaurants to customize to your needs. Choosing sit-down restaurants instead of fast food establishments might take extra time, but you will have a better opportunity to ask how foods are prepared and add special requests for healthier meals. Ask for dressings on the side, grilled or broiled instead of fried, and substituting vegetables or salads for fried dishes. Requesting half-sized, sharing or ordering children’s portions is also widely accepted in restaurants today. PAUSE in the beginning of the day to strategize a little and ask the others travelling with you to join in. If you’re planning a long, leisurely lunch then aim to have a smaller dinner or if you’re having the all-you-can-eat buffet in the evening, eat a light lunch. Don’t skip meals, though, as research shows that skipping meals may make you feel hungrier and lead you to eat more than you normally would at your next meal.
Use your feet!
A great way to experience a new place is by foot! Take time to walk between major attractions rather than jumping on a bus or a subway. You'll experience the flavour of different neighbourhoods and be able to nip into any shop or museum that appeals to you as you go. Most places in Europe also offer bike tours combining all-day exercise, fresh air and sightseeing. Pack plenty of exercise gear to help you maintain any fitness progress you have already made and to perhaps compensate for some less healthy choices you might make during the break. Incorporating a little exercise into your holiday could help you feel better, sleep better and make it easier to get back into (or kick-start!) a fitness routine once you return home. If you are staying in a hotel, take advantage of free gym or swimming pool access and check out these free apps that can make keeping track of exercise while travelling fun and easy!
You are on holiday, so let’s not deprive! The trick is practicing balance, variety and moderation. Choose your splurges wisely, but do allow for them. Consider your favourite things and enjoy them, but perhaps pass on the things you can easily get at home that just add extra calories. Enjoying Italian gelato while passing on the white bread basket might be an example. Planning for perhaps one “treat a day” and aiming to sample treats “to satisfaction” (a 5 on your scale) rather than feasting (an 8 on your scale) on them is a brilliant mindful eating splurge strategy. Bigger is not always better!
Enjoy eating everything, just not EVERY THING!
Sometimes on holiday, we consider eating away from home a “special treat” and thus give ourselves carte blanche to overindulge even though many of us eat out on a daily basis. Sometimes, it isn't “what” we eat as much as “how much” we eat that gets us into nutritional trouble. Consider sharing meals around the table, ordering half-sized portions, taking leftovers or ordering appetizers as main meals since serving sizes at restaurants can often feed many. Especially if the food cannot be classified as “healthy”, focus on smaller quantities to savour slowly since it has been found that most people who eat slower are able to control calorie intake and stay satisfied for longer. Once again, by PAUSING during your meal to ask yourself “Am I hungry?” you can choose whether you will continue or not. It’s not about being “in control”, but about being “in charge”!
It’s worth the time it takes to PAUSE now and plan ahead for a healthy trip. Remember, vacation, like exercise, should be fun! Try new things, sightsee on foot, bike, swim or surf, and definitely enjoy the good food without total deprivation! Being healthy is a lifestyle, not a quick fix. Use the PAUSE tips above to record your SMART holiday goals since research shows that those who write down their goals accomplish significantly more than those who don’t. Then, read next week’s article “Summer Holidays, GO or PAUSE?” with specific food tips for travel in the Mediterranean, Nordic Countries, Germany more to plan your upcoming European journey!
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