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8 ways to keep the diet on track during your holiday

Belfast PT and nutritionist Alan Waterman offers his advice on making sure you don't over-indulge this Summer.

Right choices: Monitoring portion sizes can help keep your diet on track
Right choices: Monitoring portion sizes can help keep your diet on track

By Alan Waterman

Holidays coming up? Lucky you - not so lucky for your diet.

Most of us already know that holidays can be the perfect way to undo weeks, or even months-worth of training and dieting. It seems great at the time, but is often a one-way ticket to regret and self-pity once we return home and realize the damage we’ve done.

That’s the harsh reality of overindulging.

Does this mean we can’t cut ourselves a little slack whilst on holiday? Do we still need to be just as strict with our nutrition?

Hell no, it’s a holiday after all! But we can certainly minimize the damage done- it just takes a little know-how.

Read on to discover eight ways to keep yourself on track across your Summer holiday. Your break in the sun doesn’t have to spell a disaster for your waistline!

1.  Choose your alcohol wisely

Let’s be honest, it’s hard to beat laying by the pool with a drink - for some people, that’s their entire holiday.

Unfortunately, those alcohol calories add up quick. Don’t forget, alcohol is nearly as calorie-dense as fat (7 calories per gram, compared to fat’s 9 calories)

Lagers, and sugar-loaded cocktails and mixers can add a huge number of extra calories into your daily intake.

Even though you might be making good food choices, you may more than be making up for it in alcohol. You can aim to save calories by looking at limiting the number of higher-calorie drinks you have, and substituting others for lower-calorie spirits and diet mixers.

A vodka and diet coke will set you back 70 calories, compared to around 200 in a pint of lager. Ten drinks in, that’s a saving of over 1000 calories, which, every day across a week, will spare you a 2lb gain of bodyfat.

2. Ditch breakfast

One of the simplest solutions to keeping daily calorie intake lower? Skip a meal.

The thought of it will send some into a panic, but relax, it won’t damage or slow your metabolism - approaching each day with an intermittent fasting style approach just means that calories can be more easily kept lower throughout the day.

As our evening meal is usually our largest (both at home and on holiday) intermittent fasting can give us that extra advantage of being able to use our spare calories from the morning in a larger meal at dinner, without pushing us much over our calorie needs.

3. Keep hydrated

Travelling somewhere warm? Be prepared to sweat that little bit extra, which means being prepared for your fluid needs to increase too.

Keeping hydrated should be a no-brainer, and luckily, if you’ve developed a good habit of it at home, should be that bit easier to keep up when away.

Carrying a bottle with you that can be sipped on throughout the day is going to be a good move. Again, as with back home, keeping hydrated can help keep appetite in check, preventing you from overdoing it at mealtimes.

4. Stay active

It can be all too tempting to use a trip away as an excuse to just lay on the beach for a week, but one of the most effective ways of preventing that holiday weight-gain is simply to keep your step count up.

Don’t forget, it’s not just about the calories we’re taking in, the calories we’re burning off can make a difference too.

Even if you’re using your week away as a break from the gym, it’s still easy to keep active- exploring the local towns, taking tours and day-trips, or making time for an evening stroll across the sea-front are all ways of keeping those activity levels up, whilst still making the most of your holiday.

5. Make two of your meals 'better'

Intermittent fasting might not be your cup of tea - some people enjoy their breakfast too much. If this sounds like you, and you still find yourself following a three-meal-a-day schedule whilst away, you can stay a little more on top of your calorie intake by aiming to make two out of those three meals “better.”

So, rather than loading up at the breakfast buffet, ordering platters at lunch, then a three-course meal at dinner, being a little stricter with your food choices and portion control across two of those meals can often still leave room to indulge a little more across the third, without it sending your daily calorie intake skywards.

Just like at back home, some flexibility in the diet is essential, but too much will cause damage.

6. Adopt an either/or attitude

It never makes sense to be ultra-restrictive with our diets. Denying ourselves the things we enjoy typically sets us up for dietary failure, both at home and on holiday.

Being flexible, as previously mentioned, is incredibly important, and can prevent us from doing too much damage with our food choices.

Adopting an either/or attitude is the perfect way to stay flexible whilst on holiday, as it can help prevent us from overindulging.

Had an extra couple of drinks with lunch? Scale down the alcohol intake at dinner. Treated yourself to a foreign treat mid-morning? Skip dessert in the evening. Working through daily dietary compromises can still allow us to enjoy many of the foods on offer, without overdoing it.

7. Be strict at the buffet

Breakfast and other meals are often included as part of a holiday package, but it can be risky when it comes to keeping an eye on your calorie intake.

Having easy access to large quantities of food at buffets can easily lead to plateful after plateful, which does no favours for those of us trying to avoid weight-gain.

When presented with the buffet, aim to limit yourself to only one trip, and make sure to not completely avoid all the treats either - skipping those out entirely will leave you more prone to wanting to make that second trip.

8. Avoid eating out for every meal

Facing facts, restaurants just plain don’t care about your calorie intake - you can almost guarantee that portion sizes will be larger, and more calories added during the cooking process.

Instead of eating out on a standard three-meal-a-day approach, look to find a local supermarket or store where you can pick up a small amount of groceries which can allow you to prepare at least one meal a day for yourself.

This can make it much easier to stay on top of serving sizes, food choices, and the extra calories which can easily sneak their way into a meal.

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