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Summer Holidays, GO or PAUSE?
Dear Ellen, This summer we are planning to travel to the Mediterranean, to Nordic Countries and in central Germany/Switzerland/Austria. We are so excited to try new and different foods and discover these new places, but we are nervous about maintaining our healthy habits not knowing what to expect, can you help us prepare?
Begin by reading our “Summer holidays….press your “PAUSE” button!” article to kick-off your general savvy travel strategies, then read here to find how to “GO” to your specific destination!
Research has shown for years that a Mediterranean-style diet has many health benefits, from reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer to living longer. The diet focuses on the traditional foods and drinks of the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea such as Italy, France, Greece, Spain and Portugal. Though their cuisines differ depending on the country, their diets are primarily based on vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, cereal grains, olive oil and fish. Mediterranean cultures are also reputed for knowing how to really savour and enjoy their meals
The Good Stuff, Top 9 Go!
1. More heart-healthy unsaturated fats than unhealthy saturated
2. More fish and poultry than red meat
3. Fresh fruit instead of sugary, fancy desserts
4. Plenty of flavourful veggies
5. Protein rich low-fat beans and pulses
6. Whole-grain bread, pastas or pitas
7. Fresh, seasonal food prepared in simple, mouth-watering manners
8. Condiments like oil and sauces are typically served on the side, so manageable!
9. Mediterranean herbs and spices such as basil, cilantro, coriander, rosemary, garlic, thyme and cinnamon, add so much flavour you may not need salt. Some provide health benefits, too.
Press your pause button, but don’t miss these 5!
1. Think quality not quantity…olive oil yes, but aim to limit to 2-3 tablespoons per day. Current UK government guidelines advise cutting down on all fats and replacing saturated fat with unsaturated fat, such as olive oil found in the Mediterranean diet. However, all oils/fats have approximately 120 calories per tablespoon and evidence indicates that total fat intake should not exceed 30% of total intake to avoid unhealthy weight gain. Do not over-do a good thing! Try using balsamic vinegar, for example, as a flavourful, yet very low-calorie addition to flavour foods.
2. Eat full fat cheese in moderation. Choose Feta, Ricotta or Goat cheeses as good lower fat Mediterranean cheese options.
3. Walk for your gelato! Mediterranean countries often propose delicious artisanal gelatos, sorbettas or ice creams, not to be missed! Why not consider walking to the shop like the locals do to work up a hunger and burn off a few extra calories too? Did you know that gelato typically contains significantly less fat than ice cream?
4. Eat Slowly: Mediterranean’s traditionally allow about 2 hours for the midday break, so plenty of time to eat slowly, likely eat less, and savour every bite.
The Nordic or Scandinavian countries, including Finland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Iceland, are well known for having some of the healthiest and happiest populations in the world. Sweden consistently maintains one of the world’s highest life expectancies, and Forbes, Bloomberg, and others have featured all five countries on lists of “the world’s healthiest countries.”
The Good Stuff, Top 7 Go!
1. Lots of healthy fish including herring, tuna, salmon, mackerel and cod which are rich in protein, omega-3s and antioxidants
2. Nordic dishes tend to have fewer ingredients than their southern counterparts; therefore, they tend to use superior quality produce
3. Fresh veggies, especially root vegetables, are prepared simply by roasting or stir-frying
4. Rye bread, which is a staple, includes soluble fibre which is filling and can help lower cholesterol, blood sugar spikes and cravings
5. Rapeseed oil, the main cooking oil in Nordic countries, has higher levels of important healthy fatty acids than any other vegetable oil and is a good source of vitamin E.
6. Exercise in Scandinavia fits seamlessly into Nordic people’s daily routines. About 30% of Danes and 50% of Swedes living in cities cycle to and from work and all Nordic countries are among the countries with the most bikes per capita! So, instead of taking your journey by car or public transport, why not opt to cycle or jog like a Scandinavian?
7. Sauna among Scandinavians is a very important part of the local culture. With numerous researched health benefits, such as flushing toxins out of your body, inducing better sleep, improved cardiovascular performance and sweating which actually forces your body to burn calories…this is a great holiday treat!
Press your pause button, but don’t miss these 3!
1. Fika is considered a social institution in Sweden. It means having a break, most often a coffee break and always includes something to eat, such as biscuits, cakes and sweets. If you are enjoying between-meal Fika, take it into consideration when planning the other meals of your day.
3. Portions. I have always found that the further north you travel in Europe, the bigger the portions and the taller people! So, portion control is key…too much of a good thing is still too much…
The Germanic diet is protein-rich but often also high in fat and sugar and the traditional diet is heavy and starchy. However, today many vegetarian, vegan and organic restaurants are becoming popular and with a little planning, you can find healthy options. A variety of meats are usually included in every meal and wonderful baked goods and cakes are available for the indulging sweet tooth!
The Good Stuff. Top 9 Go!
1. Structured meals where one eats "breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper." with consumption concentrated in the morning and lunchtime, is believed by some to be beneficial to metabolism.
2. Breads are often not white nor starchy like traditional Mediterranean breads, rather, they are coarse and unrefined, composed mainly of whole grains, such as rye, spelt, millet, and wheat providing healthy density and long lasting fullness.
3. Sauerkraut has been found to offer remarkable health benefits including improved digestion, low calories, numerous enzymes and vitamin C.
4. Birchermüesli is highly nutritional anytime! Usually made of raw rolled oats, grains, fresh or dried fruits, seeds and nuts, often mixed with cows, soy or almond milk, yogurt or fruit juice.
5. Cows provide plenty of calcium rich dairy in the form cheese, milk and delicious yogurt.
6. Fresh food open markets offer plenty of fruits and vegetables to stock up on while you’re travelling. This is especially important since a typical Germanic diet may be deficient in vegetables and fruits. Look on-line to find options near your destination and if you think you might not be able to get your recommended 5-a-day, keep taking your Juice PLUS+ capsules and stash some Juice PLUS+ Complete Bars into your bag!
7. The mountains of Austria, Germany and Switzerland serve as a great year round playground for hiking, walking and mountaineering.
Press your pause button, but don’t miss these 5!
2. “Kaffee und Kuchen” where families and friends gather together in the mid to late afternoon to drink coffee and enjoy a slice of cake is a real treat! These pastries are truly delicious, so why not plan to indulge in one or share! Be sure to try Schwarzwälderkirschtorte, Zwetschenkuchen, Apfelkuchen or Sacher torte.
3. Plan ahead for a (saturated fat) rich Fondue or Raclette which are typically served on cold winter days, but many restaurants offer your round. Bread or potatoes laden or dipped into melted cheese are well worth the holiday splurge, especially after a great hike!
5. Beer is readily available (think Biergarten!) and in some countries it is even the national drink! It has been claimed to have some health benefits, however monitor your consumption by using this quick guide to work out how much is recommended you consume of your favourite brew.
Bon voyage and Bon Appétit wherever you go and whatever you choose to do and eat! Remember, vacation is all about renewal, time off and PAUSING to take care of YOU! Next month we will switch from taking care of you to taking care of your kids with some back to school strategies to teach and keep our young ones healthy too!…..
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