With the summer holidays coinciding with a relaxation of the lockdown rules, several people have already mentioned to me that they are starting to feel the ill-effects of a little too much indulgence. Late nights and a bottle of wine shared with friends are back on the agenda for weekends while long-anticipated holidays abroad have a sense of ‘now or never’ about them that can be accompanied by an all or nothing approach to food and drink.
So how to get the balance right? How to enjoy our new found freedom and time with friends and family without reaching the end of summer feeling tired and a few pounds heavier? These are my top five tips:
1. Stick to three meals a day
It’s easy for our digestive system to get overwhelmed with a constant stream of food and drinks throughout the day. Especially when on holiday it’s all too easy to fill the day with ice creams, snacks and local delicacies that you ‘have’ to try! Aiming to stick to three meals, with a good break between each of them, allows your food to be well digested before the next meal comes along. This doesn’t mean you need to miss out on the ice creams or local treats, just make them part of your meal.
2. Fill half your plate with salad or vegetables
A really easy trick to ensure that you’re keeping up levels of fibre and nutrients – cover half of your plate with vegetables. This will help fill you up and ensure a powerful helping of antioxidants from the veg to battle any sunburn or increased alcohol consumption.
3. Eat on a smaller plate
Is keeping your weight stable while on holiday something that you struggle with? If so, consider eating from a smaller plate than normal. In a social media post at the beginning of May, I challenged myself to do this for the month. I’m still going three months later! By tricking the brain into thinking that the (smaller) plate is full, we are happier eating less without feeling hungry. If the same reduced amount of food was put on a normal dinner plate, the converse would be true. Our brain would notice the empty spaces on the plate and demand more!
4. Keep coffees for the morning
The half life of coffee is an incredible five hours in most people. That means that after five hours, half the effects of caffeine will have left the body. The remaining half will then linger for many hours more. If you put this into a typical daily rhythm, any coffee drunk in the afternoon will still be freely circulating in the evening, while a post-dinner espresso will keep you going until midnight or later. With our understanding of the importance of a good night’s sleep, keeping coffees for the morning could be a good idea.
5. A glass of water for each alcoholic drink
A simple but effective tip whenever drinking alcohol – match every alcoholic drink with a large glass of water. This will help to counteract the dehydrating effects of alcohol as well as slowing things down. Starting the evening with a glass of sparkling water and a twist of lime instead of reaching immediately for an alcoholic option can also be a good trick to counter any thirst – and therefore avoid the first glass of wine/G&T/drink of your choice disappearing too quickly.
So, there you have my top five tips for enjoying the holidays without compromising on fun or feeling good. Have a great summer!