Do diets and holidays mix?
Is it possible to stick to your plan on your vacation and still have a good time?
I’ve booked a holiday for this summer and I can’t wait for my week away in the sunshine! For many people the summer means a chance for some much needed rest and relaxation, whether you’re jetting off for a fortnight of all-inclusive indulgence, or spending a simple long weekend away from your normal routine, everyone is looking forward to their break.
But when it comes to holidays and fitness, and more specifically, nutrition, you tend to see people falling on two polar opposite ends of the spectrum.
The first set of people are those taking what I’ve referred to several times as: “the f*** it approach”.
This is a pretty self explanatory concept, but it basically refers to those people who have the mentality that when you’re on holiday all discipline goes out the window. You’ve paid for this and you’re gong to make the most of it- YOLO!
Of course, those sitting at the other end of the spectrum have the entire opposite idea. Why would you waste all the hard work you’ve put in all these months for 7 nights of binging? These people will stick to their diet plan just as religiously in the south of France as they would in the office of their 9-5.
Now, both approaches definitely have their separate merits.
If you are one of these people who have paid for the all-inclusive and intend to eat whatever takes your fancy until you are totally full, then absolutely good for you! You’re going to enjoy yourself to the maximum and make the most of your you-time, indulging in every treat for yourself along the way because, let’s face it, you earned it!
While this isn’t going to entirely ruin a whole years worth of hard work in such a short space of time, you have to be prepared to face the consequences of this.
You are likely to experience a spike in weight gain, and your body will feel sluggish and bloated if it’s taking in lots of types of foods in large quantities that you aren’t used to. It’s also going to be more difficult to get back into the gym post-holiday as you’ll be needing to work a lot harder and be very strict with your diet to try and get back to where you were before you left.
This is miles away from the other category, which is full of people that are taking their diet, and probably their training with them on holiday too.
One specific reason for this could be that they are competitors, in swimwear competitions for example, and are preparing for an upcoming event which requires there 100% dedication. They cannot afford to gain any body fat by going off track, but they can still enjoy the company of their loved ones on holiday.
However, more often than not, the main reason people fall into this category is because they want to look at their peak condition 24/7, all year round. They can’t see the benefit of a few days of relaxing and enjoying themselves past the obsessive discipline.
This will mean you can go for your entire holiday without sacrificing any of your gains, but it may cause friction between you and your loved ones as they repeatedly try to talk you into enjoying an ice cream with them. The other downside is you aren’t going to enjoy your time away to the fullest with such restrictions still in place.
If you’re used to weighing your food and tracking it then you are likely to run into some problems if you’re in a foreign buffet where it plainly isn’t viable to do this and log it into MyFitnessPal.
In all honesty, if this sounds like you then I would suggest that a break from your rigidity might do wonders for your mental health, you’ll come back feeling more refreshed for it! You might even find that you like the flexibility, and come to realise you can introduce some of this into your daily life and still maintain the body you want.
So, unsurprisingly, my advice is to find yourself a happy medium.
Acknowledge both ends of the spectrum, then find yourself somewhere in the middle.
I have a few simple suggestions to help you with this:
Keep eating the same types of food. Food that you know is nutrient dense and fuels your body. Then you can add any treats on top, knowing you’ve already consumed a balance of all the foods you need.
Stay hydrated. Keeping yourself full of water will stop the excessive over-eating that we can all fall victim to in the buffet. (This tip can work with any calorie-free drinks: fizzy water, diet sodas etc)
Get your veggies in first. Make sure you have enough of the good stuff on your plate, and eat them before the rest of your meal. This will make sure you’ve consumed enough fibre before you go experimenting with all the other new foods.
Avoid condiments. Restaurant chefs in hotels will be cooking with all the spices and oils to make our food taste good without them. As soon as you start adding on ketchup, bbq sauce, oils and dressings you are simply pouring on calories that won’t even fill you up. Before you know it you’ve added 300 extra cals in the form of ketchup that you really didn’t need!
If you like to really indulge at dinner, save your cals elsewhere. If you know you’re someone that likes to see the tea-time buffet and try everything, then why not try and have a smaller breakfast, or fast between breakfast and lunch without snacks to make sure you can go all out in the evening guilt-free?!
At the end of the day, your attitude to your diet on holiday is entirely your own, but if you’re after more advice on how to find the balance between enjoyment and avoiding regret, do get in touch with me!