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Does your holiday have to be a blow-out?

OK, so if you like it that way, then that's fine, of course! But many of my clients speak regretfully about a holiday-induced shift in attitude to eating and drinking, the overindulgence (nice at the time) which can give us weight gain and the inevitable desire to start dieting when we get home. Is this a familiar pattern which you'd like to break?

There are several reasons why we blow-out on holiday. If we live quite a restrictive life around food the rest of the time, our holiday can be seen as a chance to 'let it all hang out' and do what the hell we like. "Why shouldn't we?" - that kind of impetuous child thinking. We may view indulgence as a treat, using food and drink as a reward for how hard we've worked during the rest of the year. We may drink more alcohol which can lead to overeating. We have a "we're on holiday" head meaning we want to feel more free and untethered in lots of ways, especially if our work or home life is stressful.

A lot of work to change the rollercoaster pattern of holiday blow-out starts before we go away. Changing how we eat can mean looking at wider areas of our lives which cause us stress or emotions which drive overeating. It helps to develop a mindful eating approach to food everyday which doesn't mean being rigid but is more about allowing all foods in a balanced day to day pattern of eating. This way, a holiday "all or nothing / treat" mode is less likely to kick in. We learn how to nourish with good nutrition, eat when we are hungry and understand appetite sensitivity so that we stop when we are satisfied.

It's also about making a decision, a choice and an intention to use the time off to recuperate properly, nourish, relax and to try to feel better when you return from holiday. How often have you overdone it and felt like you needed another holiday when you got home, in order to get over the food and alcohol. I'd suggest that it's not really much of a rest is it?

But maybe you're going on holiday tomorrow so there's not much time to do the groundwork! Here are seven simple tips to help you manage eating and not come back feeling overweight and wrecked!

  1. Set an intention to eat well and be a mindful eater. Stay in your own eating zone and don't be swayed by others' comments or eating behaviours.

  2. Eat slowly, savouring the tastes. Eat when you're hungry and not when you're not. Just because you have 3 meals available (or included in your holiday package) doesn't mean you have to eat (all of) them every day you're on holiday

  3. Pay attention to how full you are at every meal. When you feel satisfied (not necessarily full), stop

  4. At the buffet, put some items on your plate and move away. Go back only if you need to. Leave food on your plate if you're full. If you're in danger of feeling like you're missing out, plan to have that certain something tomorrow, or later in the week

  5. Ignore the extras at the table (bread, breadsticks etc.) so you can focus on eating more of the nutritious 'rainbow' foods. Eat desserts only if you really fancy them.

  6. Moderate alcohol and stay hydrated with simple water

  7. Breathe and smile

Follow those tips and you won't gain weight and you will still feel like you've enjoyed great food and social experiences.

If you want help to be a mindful eater you can contact me HERE.

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