6+1 simple ways to stay healthy while on summer vacation!
A summer get-away is the perfect way to relax and take a break from the normal daily routine. Truth is, we are all really looking forward to a summer vacation; but many people see it as a chance to overindulge in food or alcohol and to stop exercising. However, eating healthy and being active are parts of your lifestyle, and should not feel like a chore when you’re on vacation. It is all about having fun doing things that you love and enjoying yourself.
Remember that taking a few days off doesn’t “make or break” the healthy habits you’ve already established in your life. There is no need to feel stressed about not being punctual with the nutrition and exercise plan you've been following back home. Allow yourself to enjoy some local food and drinks as an occasional treat, without feeling guilty about it. So, here are some tips and tricks to stay healthy while on vacation, no matter where you are going.
Tip 1: Start the day with an energy-boosting, nutrient-packed breakfast!
Whole wheat breakfast cereals and breads, porridge oats and muesli are low fat, high fiber foods that will help you cope with a busy day. The dietary fiber will also enhance your feeling of fullness, so that you are less likely to nibble extra snacks during the day.
Add seasonal fruits to your breakfast! Berries, watermelon, pineapple, dried apricots, mangoes, peaches, literally any fruit! You can also help yourself with a small glass of 150ml of fresh fruit juice, but try to drink no more than 150ml juice per day. Also, vegetables like carrots, colored peppers, roasted mushrooms or tomatoes protect against heart disease and cancer and can add flavor to your breakfast omelette or a healthy toast.
Low-fat dairy products including milk, yogurt and cheese are also a great option for your breakfast. If you do not consume animal-derived products, try plant based options including rice, soy, almond, coconut or oat drinks or deserts that are enriched with calcium and vitamins B12 and D.
Most hotels now offer alternative choices that are sugar-free. if you have a sweet tooth, add a spoonful of honey, maple syrup or sugar-free jam to your breakfast toast or cereals. If you prefer salty flavors try adding a tablespoon of peanut butter or low fat margarine to your bread and crackers. If your coffee is sweet, try to replace sugar with stevia or other sweeteners to reduce refined sugar and hence calorie intake.
Breakfasts to try!
Low fat Greek or soy yogurt + pineapple + porridge oats + almonds (add maple syrup or honey for a more sweet taste)
Whole-wheat bread + peanut butter + fruit
Whole-wheat crackers + low fat cheese + honey or maple syrup or sugar-free jam
Healthy smoothies made with low fat Greek or soy yogurt, fresh fruits, honey and nuts
Tip 2: Plate size matters!
To avoid overeating and to control your portions, use plates of a smaller size when possible. If you are eating at a restaurant, where it is common to serve large portions of meals, you can make sure that 1/2 of your plate contains vegetables (not covered in oil, butter, or cream - vegetable sauces are fine!), 1/4 carbohydrates (pasta, rice, quinoa, millet etc.) and 1/4 protein. Moreover, try to avoid combining foods that belong to the same food group (i.e. pasta with potatoes and bread) since this way you will be increasing the calorie content of your meals, and cause large fluctuations to your blood sugar.
Tip 3: Veggies come first!
Serve your veggies in your plate before any other food! As long as they are not covered with butter or any fat or sugar-rich sauces, all vegetables are low in calories. Choose a variety of colorful vegetables such as peppers, Brussels sprouts, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, peas and carrots. If you are responsible for cooking during vacation, try to steam your vegetables for the shortest amount of time and with the less amount of water possible, to ensure maximum intake of nutrients. If you are eating out, ask the waitress to replace potato chips with boiled or fresh vegetables, and to leave the olive oil or any other accompanying sauces on the side.
Tip 4: Stay hydrated
At least 8-10 glasses of water per day are necessary to keep you hydrated, allow nutrients to pass smoothly through the gastrointestinal tract, and increase your sense of fullness so that you end up consuming less food. Make sure you always have one or two jugs of water on your dinner table when eating. It is also essential that you always carry cold water with you everywhere you go and especially at the beach, in order to stay hydrated. Water-rich fruits and vegetables such as watermelon, strawberries, tomatoes, cucumber, radish and celery will also help you stay hydrated, since their water content can be up to 98%!
Tip 5: Get in the move!
Take some time to break a sweat (even if that means going for a hike or exploring a city by foot). Do not forget that being active will help you burn any extra calories you may consume during your holidays. There is no need to exercise intensively or spend hours in the hotel gym, just integrate a stable and entertaining workout into your vacation routine!
Physical exercise improves blood circulation, helps eliminate excess fluid from the tissues and stimulates the muscles, thus improving the appearance of the skin. Moderate intensity physical activity, such as brisk walking, light running or cycling for at least 30 minutes, 5 times a week is significant in the reduction of cellulite and excess body fat. We should all walk at least 10,000 steps per day to stay healthy, so it would be great if you can use a physical activity tracker or your cell phone to help you count the steps you take every day on your vacation.
Dance till you drop at all the summer parties that follow or go for a relaxing walk with friends after a meal. Discover new nature paths, take some yoga or pilates classes by the beach, give a summer sport a try, or simply go for an early morning swim. And also make sure you do not spend more than 1 hour a day on sedentary behaviors like watching TV, or playing with your tablet or cell phone.
Tip 6: Drink responsibly
Keep in mind that alcoholic beverages contain many calories and do not offer any nutrients so try not to overdo it with the amount you consume. Women should try to drink no more than 2 units of alcohol a day, whereas men should drink no more than 3 units of alcohol a day. An alcohol unit corresponds to a shot of 25ml spirits, while a large glass of 250ml wine corresponds to 3 units of alcohol. Whenever possible try replacing alcoholic beverages with soda water combined with a few slices of lemon or other seasonal fruits, or non-calorie soft drinks.
Tip 7: Take enough sleep
Good sleep habits are extremely important for your health and your body. Insufficient sleep has been associated with depression, lowered ability to concentrate, inability to make decisions and reduces the body's immune activity. Recently, researchers have discovered that lack of sleep can affect the types of food consumed. Due to lack of sleep people tend to choose high calorie foods such as sweets and fried meals. People who go to bed late at night consume more calories, junk food and soft drinks and fewer fruits and vegetables than those who have a full night's sleep. Therefore, sufficient and high quality sleep can prevent you from craving unhealthy foods when you're on holidays.
How do you stay healthy when on vacation? Feel free to share your best tips on the comment section below!