How to maintain a healthy diet on holidays

It’s all too easy to let your diet guard down on vacation and overindulge or let go of normal healthy eating habits, but it doesn’t need to be that way. Here are a few simple tips to ensure that your getaway doesn’t become a glut-away!

Plan your mealtimes
A lot of holiday food issues arise from neglecting to plan your eating times properly. If you are at an airport, on the road or in an unfamiliar location and you haven’t planned where or what to eat, then chances are you will end up at the most convenient and least healthy option. Fast food is usually highest in fat and sugar, which is not good for maintaining the energy and alertness you need to enjoy your break.

All it takes is some internet research in advance to seek out healthier dining options at your destinations or transit points. Allow ample time in your schedule for meals too, so that you are not feeling pressured to take the fast food route.

Water wisdom
Good hydration plays a major role when you travel. Airline air conditioning tends to really dry out the air, so lots of water can help you arrive more refreshed and energetic. If you are out and about sightseeing you may be dehydrating more than you think, so you need to increase your regular water intake.

Drinking water can also help moderate your hunger and stop you from over-eating or snacking on items with poor nutritional value.

Immunity boosting foods
Your immune system can be run down by the stresses of travel, so it pays to increase intake of immunity boosting foods. Probiotics in yogurt or fermented dairy drinks can aid digestive health and protect from some of the nasties when eating in unfamiliar places. Garlic is a good immunity food too and contains allicin, which helps fight infection and bacteria. Green tea can inhibit bacteria and viruses and is good for energy output and to aid burning off fat. Drink it freely but be aware that it also contains caffeine, so be careful if you are sensitive to that.

Snacking on the move
When you are travelling or sightseeing, you often don’t have the time to stop and eat as well as you would like. Planning healthy and portable snack foods becomes vital to avoid becoming so hungry that you let your guard down and binge on junk food. Fruit fits the bill well here and nuts are an easy and convenient alternative too. Make a habit of finding stores or markets first up at each destination to stock up on those items.

Whole grain snack bars or breakfast bars can also be a handy travel companion, but be careful to read ingredient lists to avoid invisible nasties. Trail mix can be a good option too, but the dried fruits can be high in sugar, so don’t overdo it.

Mexican not Macca’s
If you do end up with the urge for fast food, try to make Mexican your preference rather than the usual burger or chicken chain stores. You can usually find rice, beans, salads and vegetables on the menu at a Mexican take away, which have much heathier properties than highly processed burgers.

Eat in once a day
Eating out for every meal can make it hard to stay healthy, due to the large serving sizes and hidden fats in things like dressings and sauces. Try to make it a rule that you eat-in at least once a day. It doesn’t take much effort to pack some instant oatmeal or whole-grain cereal for breakfast or some simple sandwich ingredients for lunch.

This is also a good time to eat big on the good stuff that you might find harder to come by if you are eating out for most meals. Lots of salad, tinned fish, vegetables and whole grains are best. It might take a bit more planning and shopping, but hey – it’s only once a day!

Go fishing in restaurants
If you are eating in restaurants, lean toward the fishy end of the menu to make sure you are getting a good intake of omega 3 and healthy proteins. Grilled or steamed is best and ask for sauces to be put on the side, so that you can control quantities.

Eat like a local
Finally, if you are holidaying overseas, it makes sense to sample the local cuisine whenever you can. It adds to the richness of the travel experience, but it is often also a healthier alternative than trying to seek out more familiar food. Many cultures have a higher emphasis on vegetable, seafood and whole grains than we do in our overly-processed western diet, so when in Rome . . . .