Blog: 10 ways to create healthy summer holiday habits

You know the deal, you’re on a roll, you’ve been going to the gym regularly, eating lots of whole foods and vegetables, your felling fit and healthy and ready for summer. Then the holidays hit and you’ve got to contend with hectic schedules, airports, and a complete upheaval in your routine.

To add to that the kids are off school so you have that ‘schools out for summer’ feeling and want to make the most of the longer nights. Work becomes more social this time of year too, you find the sunny weather brings people out of the woodwork and you are finding that your alcohol intake has tripled in the last few weeks. You start to worry about the impact all of this is going to have on your health once the autumn rolls around.

If this sounds all too familiar that’s because it happens to us all this time of year. It’s not something to get caught up about, in fact it’s important that you find the time to let go this time of year. However finding the balance between letting go and feeling like you've completely lost the run of yourself can be tricky. Many of us struggle to find the balance in the summer months so below are my top 10 evidence based ways you can stay on track with your healthy habits when on holidays or during a staycation this summer.


1.       Employ the use of apps to help you find healthy options locally

Some of my clients who travel regularly find this app/desktop website useful. You simply put in your location and it provides you with a list of healthy options nearby - either restaurants or shops.

2.       Keep hydrated

It sounds overly simplistic but research has shown that we can misinterpret thirst for hunger. By having a glass or two of water first thing, and remaining hydrated throughout the day you can reduce the likelihood that you will give in to temptation out of thirst.

o   HINT: Get a nice reusable water bottle, carry it with you throughout the day and leave it in eye line. This acts as a visual prompt to keep hydrated.

3.       When eating at a breakfast buffet or at an all inclusive resort

a.       Reduce variety.  When navigating the breakfast buffet, research shows it is better to examine all of the options first before digging in. By asking yourself what the best options are for you or picking the ones that you like most it makes it much less likely you will overeat in comparison to when you can choose from all of the options.

b.      Turn your back on temptation. Sitting further away from a buffet table or with your back to the table is best to resist multiple trips. Keeping unhealthy foods out of sight off kitchen counters and office desks makes it much less likely you will indulge.

4.       Chew.

Evidence shows that chewing more slowly sends signals to your brain that you are full and therefore can help you eat less. Not only has chewing been shown to help you eat less, it helps increase the enjoyment you get from food - bonus!

5.       When drinking, consider your glass shape and size.

You will serve yourself 12% less wine in tall slim glasses than in wider stout glasses. Some interesting research has even shown that champion bartenders pour 20-30% more in short glasses than tall ones.

6.       Avoid 'All or Nothing' thinking:

One way to achieve balance on holidays is every time you do or have something unhealthy make sure your next step is a health one. If you have a big unhealthy lunch try to follow it with a lighter supper. If you spend one day lounging by the pool try to get some activity the next.

7.       Pack snacks

a. Things like nuts, popcorn, hard fruits, protein bars (low sugar if possible), tea, seeds, nut butters (in small packets), beef jerky and rye bread all last well on a long haul flight and can be kept as snacks to be used throughout your trip.

b. It’s also hugely advisable to pick up things like salads/wraps/smoothies, protein pots and other
healthy snacks once you are through security to take on board with you to replace your in flight meal. Even if you don’t have an in flight meal, if your flight is over 2 hours as even if you aren't hungry at the time can help you avoid becoming too hungry/eating plane food and is useful in case of delay or lack of options on the other side.

Why is this important? Having a healthy snack can help us avoid that situation when we are hungry and willing to forgo our healthy eating goals in order to grab whatever is available. Research has shown that we should avoid choice when we are hungry as we tend to choose unhealthy, higher calorie foods and snacks. Having some healthy snacks at hand can prevent us from eating something unhealthy unnecessarily..

8.       Exercise isn’t just for the gym

Don’t feel bad that you aren’t going to exercise classes or the gym when on holidays. If you are used to hitting it hard in the gym this is the perfect opportunity to get some recovery. Equally if you don't normally have time to be as active as you would like this can be a great opportunity to try out activities you enjoy. Going for long walks on the beach, practicing some gentle stretching, watching a You Tube yoga video or doing some gentle laps of the pool, are not only relaxing and enjoyable holiday activities they are also all forms of physical activity.

9.       Try something new

The holidays can be the perfect time to try out a new healthy habit that you don’t feel you really have time for normally. For example, meditation is something you can do whilst on a plane/train/car. As an added bonus it can help you manage the stress of travelling better too. All you need is an app and your headphones. Additionally by practicing this on holidays it makes it more likely you will adopt this as a habit upon your return.

10.   Commit to one healthy thing

All too often we try and take on too many goals at once, which can result in a domino effect, if we fail at one, we can end up failing at them all. Why not commit to picking one healthy habit to stick to whilst on holiday. Be it as simple as drinking more water, eating a healthy breakfast every day, meditating or going for a 30 minute walk. Research has shown, feeling that you are looking after your health can have both a conscious and unconscious impact on your engagement in other healthy activities. Therefore you tend to make more healthy choices without even realising it!

Published on 3rd Jul 2018 at 06:00 by Dr Heather McKee

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Copyright ©2024 Dr. Heather McKee

Dr. Heather McKee is registered in Ireland Reg. No. 687397 with the registered address at 314 Mother Teresa House, Loreto Abby, Rathfarnham, D14 NR20, Co. Dublin, Ireland

This work is in no way meant to replace any medical advice. Dr. McKee is Non-HCPC-registered. Photography by Dylan Madden.

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