Are you off on holiday soon? Going away for the weekend? Or travelling on business? Do you have a specific goal in mind that you need to stay on track for? While we actually think that holidays are a time for fun, relaxation and even a little indulgence, we get it that for some people they could do without the diversion on a weight loss or specific fitness-related journey …. so, we’ve put together a few tips and tricks for those of you who choose to stick to a restricted-calorie diet but still want to enjoy yourselves!
“The most important objective for watching what you eat and staying in shape is that you can enjoy life to the full. Holidays are all about relaxing and having fun, so make sure you enjoy yourself. A week or two is just a small blip in time, what’s more important is how you eat the other 50 weeks of the year.”
Whatever the reason for taking you away from home and your usual routine, it can easily throw you off course if you’re tracking your calories or macronutrients and trying to achieve weight or fat loss. But it doesn’t have to. It is possible to stay on track while travelling and keep hitting those targets.
Just to reiterate, tracking calories is a personal choice and definitely not necessary all of the time. It is still possible to achieve your goals, whatever they may be, and take time out for a holiday. Remember, the most important thing in life is to enjoy yourself!
Holiday Tips and Tricks
- Continue tracking (if you want to … you don’t have to!)
If you decide to keep tracking your calories, bear in mind that it might be more difficult than usual. You’ll be eating different foods and possibly more of them. You won’t have the packaging to hand to find out the exact calories in the food or the information already in your app from a regular meal but guesstimating is always worth it. It will give you a rough idea of how much you are eating per day in relation to your calorie target.
Tracking also keeps you accountable to yourself and makes you think about the food you are eating. It can help you to make healthy choices as you’ll be more conscientious about what’s going in your mouth.
If you decide not to track your calories, you can still follow a rough outline of a plan so that you have some control and don’t overeat. For example, eat breakfast with a high protein content to keep you full until lunch, and then either have a larger lunch or dinner, but not both – although this can be tempting if you’re staying somewhere all-inclusive.
If you’re somewhere hot, the heat can often quell your appetite so you don’t feel as hungry as normal anyway. If this is the case, you can have a small snack at lunch and save your calorie budget for a larger dinner, or vice versa.
- Prioritise your macronutrients – protein first!
When eating at hotel buffets or restaurants or eating out where you’re able to choose your meals (rather than having a set menu), pick them using the following priorities:
- Protein first
Choose something with a good source of lean protein, such as fish or chicken, as the main ingredient.
- Then fill up on vegetables and salad
Choose dishes with lots of vegetables, salad or fruit. Vegetable and salad tend to be low in calories so you can afford to eat them in high volume to fill you up.
- Next, choose your carbs
Choose dishes with small amounts of carbohydrates, such as pasta, rice, or potatoes.
- Finally, think about sauces and dressings.
Choose dishes with little or no sauce if you can. If you would prefer a sauce, try to choose a tomato-based sauce rather than a creamy one, as it will likely contain less calories. If you are having a salad and require a dressing, ask for it to be served on the side. That way you have control over how much you pour on.
- Stay active
Keep your step count as high as possible by staying as active as you can. If you’re away on business, use the hotel gym, if it has one. Or take your running gear with you and fit in an early morning run around the local area, if you know you are going to be sitting for long periods later in the day, in meetings or a conference. Alternatively, just go for a walk before breakfast – that way you get some steps in and get to see some of the area you are staying in that you might not otherwise see.
If you’re travelling for pleasure or on a relaxing holiday or mini-break, you might not feel like hitting the gym but there are plenty of other ways to stay active, including swimming in the hotel pool or the sea, water sports, cycling and sight-seeing.
Exploring on holiday is a great way to hit your steps target. Try to hit your normal target every day, or go beyond it! Walking to and from places, such as the beach, the local shops or market, is a good way to keep your steps up.
If you’re somewhere hot, you can take early morning walks or wait until it cools down later in the day and take a sunset stroll along the beach, or somewhere equally picturesque. You can be romantic and still get your steps in!
If you like cycling, this can be a great way to explore and stay active. Many places have bikes for hire and sometimes hotels and self-catering accommodation offer them for free to guests. You don’t have to aspire to the Tour de France, just a gentle bike ride is better than no activity and will burn off some of those extra holiday calories consumed.
Remember, the little things make a difference. Take the stairs instead of the lift. If you’re enjoying a chilled day sunbathing, get up for a walk around the pool and a dip to cool off every now and again. Swim an extra length each time you go for a swim.
- Modify your alcohol choices
While you might enjoy a holiday cocktail or two, try to limit or modify your alcohol intake. Try a mocktail (a non-alcoholic cocktail) or just watch how much you are drinking – not always easy, especially if you’re staying all-inclusive!
Some tips to limit the calories in your alcohol include:
- Pick a diet mixer with a spirit – for example, swap out full fat Coke for Diet Coke or regular tonic for slimline tonic
- Choose a spirit and diet/ slimline mixer over a beer or a cocktail, it will probably contain less calories
- If beer is your tipple, try a low calorie beer – there are loads of pretty tasty ones on the market these days
- Try not to drink at lunchtime and ‘save’ yourself for an evening drink. Or if you choose to have wine with lunch, for example, skip the alcohol later on
- Track your drinks if you’re really trying to stay on top of your calorie intake, as they can often be way more calorific than we expect. However, if you don’t want to be that strict on holiday, just enjoy it and get back on track when you get home.
For more tips on limiting your calorie intake while enjoying alcohol check out our Ultimate Alcohol Guide.
- Limit indulgent snacks
Are you an ice-cream lover? Or an afternoon tea and cakes kind of person? When on holiday, it’s easy to ‘allow’ yourself lots of indulgent snacks and treats on the basis that you’ll stop eating them when you get home but if you indulge every day you might notice the pounds creeping back on.
Try limiting yourself to one indulgent snack or dessert per day. If you really fancy one, then go for it, don’t ruin your holiday by denying yourself but if the treat turns out to be a bit average or not taste quite as good as you expected, don’t eat it for the sake of it. Leave it or throw it away!
If you fancy a dessert for the taste of something sweet or because perhaps you want to try a local or national delicacy, you could always share one with your partner or a friend. Sharing is a great way to try different tastes without having to eat a whole dessert or meal. Sharing is just fun too!
- Don’t stress
So, don’t despair, there are plenty of ways to enjoy yourself while on holiday or travelling, without losing all control and falling off the wagon. If you do fall off, don’t stress, just pick yourself up, brush yourself down and climb straight back on. There’s no point in agonising over the large meal you ate last night when you could go and workout and start thinking about what you’re going to eat today.
If you travel regularly for business, you will find your own ways to regulate how you eat to fit in with your calorie budget and the occasional glitch in your usual healthy lifestyle won’t hurt. Follow our tips to help you stay on track while you’re away and get back to normal when you get home.
The most important objective for watching what you eat and staying in shape is that you can enjoy life to the full. Holidays are all about relaxing and having fun, so make sure you enjoy yourself. A week or two is just a small blip in time, what’s more important is how you eat the other 50 weeks of the year.