Holidays are a symbol of relaxation and regeneration for our mind and body, especially in Summer. We can’t wait to be able to unplug and to enjoy some sun and tranquillity. Although it’s important to relax and unwind during the holidays, we still need to remember the healthy habits we implemented over the year so that we don’t throw all our sacrifices out the window.
I would like to help you with a few simple tips to help you maintain your beautiful and healthy body during and after your holiday – no food restrictions, but better awareness and habits.
As a Pilates instructor as well as a Nutrition and Health Coach, I follow a holistic approach. I don’t believe in diets but in maintaining a healthy and sustainable lifestyle all year. I suggest following the 80/20 approach: 80% of the time, you stick to good habits and nutritious foods that help your body stay energetic and strong; 20% of the time, you can indulge in whatever you like.
This balance helps you control your cravings and boosts your mood, helping you lead a sustainable, healthy, and balanced life, that can bring you amazing results – all without major restrictions.
Let’s dive into some food and lifestyle tips to keep in mind during our holidays.
1) Drink more water
Water is our best friend all year, but it’s particularly important over the Summer and during the hottest months of the year. Drink more than usual during your holidays. Start with two glasses of water in the morning on an empty stomach. If your habit is to have one glass each morning, add one more. You can add some lemon and mint too for a quick cleanse before you start your day.
Water helps you eliminate toxins, boosts your metabolism, and combats the effects of excess alcohol and salty foods. It’ll keep your skin looking smooth, healthy, and hydrated.
In Summer, fruits like watermelon and cucumber are great to have every day. They are water-dense and can be a real beauty food during your holiday. They’ll also help with water retention.
Fun fact: Did you know that watermelon is rich in lycopene, a plant nutrient with antioxidant benefits? It offers protection from the sun. You can apply the internal part of the watermelon’s skin to your body for relief from light sunburn.
2) Eat healthy snacks
Try to have two healthy snacks before your big meals (lunch and dinner) so you don’t feel too hungry when you sit down to eat. When we are too hungry, we struggle to make the right choices about what we really want to eat and we end up eating more than necessary.
One common mistake is to eat bread as a starter, as this can stimulate our appetite even more.
My tip is to always have two glasses of water while you wait and immediately order a fresh salad or some olives to snack on while waiting for your starters. This helps you satisfy your hunger without loading yourself with unnecessary refined carbohydrates.
Having two healthy snacks between lunch and dinner can keep our blood sugar levels stable and prevent us from overeating at mealtimes.
You can pack your snacks with you before you leave your house or hotel. Easy healthy snacks you can pack in your bag include:
- Unsalted nuts (almonds and Brazilian nuts are amazing choices)
- Fresh seasonal fruit
- A yoghurt (dairy-free or full-fat; don’t go for 0% fat as it can be high in sugar)
- Dark chocolate (over 80%)
Other ideal snack options include:
- A fruit and vegetable smoothie
- Hummus with carrots and other crudités
- Fresh orange juice
- A sorbet
- A dark chocolate gelato
Don’t forget to give your body nutrients and minerals! Have a few healthy snacks and try to use them for your intake of fruit if you can.
3) Say yes to gelato!
Say yes to ice cream but not to the packaged kinds that are full of sugar and harmful preservatives. Rather opt for gelato. Gelato is softer, with fewer calories and less sugar than ice cream. It’s usually made in a more traditional way. If you are an ice cream lover, this is the moment to treat yourself with the best gelato. Go exploring and find a lovely gelato place. Enjoy your gelato in moderation – it’s one of the best parts of Summer!
One healthy option is sorbet (which is dairy-free gelato). Try to avoid having cream-based flavours all the time. You can enjoy two simple flavours like chocolate and hazelnut together without adding extra cream or any other extravagant flavour. Or, you can mix one low-sugar fruit flavour with a healthy creamy one, like blueberry with dark chocolate or pistachio flavour.
Remember that there’s plenty of time to enjoy gelato, so there’s no need to go all in at once. Pace yourself and don’t overindulge.
Below are the healthy options for fruit gelato:
- Melon or Watermelon
If you like creamy gelato, you can opt for flavours like:
- Dark chocolate
Did you know that chocolate gelato typically has just over 200 calories per serving? It’s a great choice for a summer snack too.
4) Choose your drinks wisely
On holidays, you may be tempted to drink every night, especially when you attend social events. To avoid an excess of unnecessary sugar and calories, we can opt for lighter drinks and still have fun at parties while keeping our waistline.
Low-calorie and low-sugar cocktails are better as they’re less likely to make you want a second cocktail or to binge on food, especially the bread, chips, and salty nuts that usually accompany the aperitif.
Healthier drinks you can order at the bar include:
- Sparkling wine
- Gin and tonic
- Vodka tonic
You can enjoy a mojito and ask the bartender to add less sugar or to replace it with a healthier substitute.
If you don’t drink alcohol or you want to have an alcohol-free holiday, avoid mocktails. They’re usually made with syrups, which are very high in sugar.
The best non-alcoholic drinks include:
- Sparkling water with lemon and mint, or with some fresh fruit like strawberries, mango, pineapple, or blueberries. You can be creative and experiment with any fruit you like.
- A fresh orange juice
- A fruit smoothie or a green smoothie with a twist (you can add some nut butter to make it tastier)
- Elderflower with mint and lemon
- Dairy-free or skimmed iced-coffee cappuccino or latte (opt for decaf coffee if it is an evening drink)
5) Enjoy dinner and lunch
On holidays, it’s time to explore local cuisine and seasonal products. They are generally healthier and fun to try. You might even find something you’d like to experiment with when cooking at home.
Fish is always an amazing option, light and delicious: grilled, baked, pan-fried, raw, and lightly fried fish are all good options.
Always order a side of seasonal vegetables. You can ask to have the dressing on the side and specify the quantity you want.
Avoid eating a heavy load of carbohydrates and fried food every day. You can have a bit of everything, but moderation is key, so don’t overindulge in those foods.
6) Try some physical activity
Even on vacation, you should try to do some physical activity at least once a day. It is important to move and to get rid of excess calories. You don’t need to hit the gym every day. You can take a walk for 15 to 20 minutes every day and breathe in some fresh air.
The most important thing is to get your body moving a bit and do some cardiovascular activities. Gentle stretching, Pilates, yoga, a walk, a volleyball match with friends, or a lovely swim can all help you stay active. Schedule some time for your exercise, and you will enjoy your holiday even more.
7) Nap, nap, nap
Naps are very restorative; they alleviate stress and relax your body. They also help you catch up on sleep if you haven’t had enough.
Holidays are for rest and recovery. Even if we have late evenings with friends and family (which is absolutely normal and fine), you’ll want to sleep as much as possible.
When we lack sleep, we feel hungrier the next day. You’re likely to crave more sugary and high-fat foods to compensate for the lack of energy. On holiday, it is easy to get caught in this trap of little sleep and too much food. So be smart, and use naps to balance your party nights.
8) Take a notebook on vacation
Most of the time we feel addicted to our work and our daily chores, and it can be hard to unwind.
Bring a notebook with you and write down any ideas and projects you have in mind. Holidays can increase your creativity as your mind is more relaxed and freed from your day-to-day routine. You can come back to your ideas and to-do list once your vacation is over.
Writing in a notebook helps you ease your mind when you’re in a thoughtful or creative mood. “Brain dumping” into your notebook can help ease spiralling thoughts.
With your notebook handy, you’ll feel more organised and you can clear your thoughts immediately in order to come back to the present moment. It is important to truly enjoy your holiday without feeling guilty in every aspect of your life. Holidays are not for working, that’s why it’s called a holiday!
Holidays are an elixir for mind and body. There’s no need to restrict yourself; moderation is the main rule. Be free, and do not deprive yourself of anything. Sleep well and get some good quality rest.
Happy holidays to all of you.
Buone Vacanze a tutti!
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