How not to gain weight on holiday

bucket and spade istock

Holidays are occasions when we may be faced with different foods from those we normally eat. Whether we spend it at home or abroad, a holiday break is the chance to relax and do things differently.

That’s the point of the holiday.

When it comes to food, for many people, holidays are times when weight increases as they abandon their usual eating routine. If you’re trying to lose weight and you abandon your weight loss regime then obviously weight gain is likely.

 

If you’d like to return from your holiday this summer at the same weight as when you went, there is a way to do this which does not involve being deprived of special holiday food.

Enjoyment is the key.

Maximising your enjoyment of food is about aiming for quality not quantity. What you mean by quality may not be the same as what the next person means. That doesn’t matter at all. Quality doesn’t mean fancy or expensive foods; here it means those things you particularly enjoy. When on holiday, choose to eat what you love. But instead of eating as much of that food as is available, focus on eating just enough to satisfy your appetite to be “just full” (+3 on the Appetite Pendulum).

This may sound like a form of deprivation. After all, you would enjoy eating more of the same food, or enjoy eating a dessert after eating the main course. But because of the way our taste buds work, you wouldn’t enjoy it as much as the first part of the meal. Our taste buds have evolved such that they are most sensitive when we are hungry and that sensitivity diminishes as we eat. It’s one of the ways our bodies naturally regulate how much we eat.

If you stop eating when you are just full, you allow your body to get hungry by the next meal or snack time. This is when your holiday food really tastes fantastic, because your taste buds are at their most sensitive.

When we go on holiday and throw all caution to the wind around eating, we never get hungry from one meal to the next. Never getting hungry means you’ve never burned off the last meal before starting the next. Because of the way our biology works, this means storing fat. Mild hunger signals are the body’s way of telling us that we are starting to burn a small amount of fat, so they are to be welcomed if we are trying to lose weight. Whether we are at home or on holiday, we can’t escape our basic biology.

Suggestions for holiday eating to maximise enjoyment and avoid weight gain:

  • Experiment with choosing the foods you’ll enjoy most and really savouring them. Eat just enough at a meal to be just full, not overly full
  • Your taste buds will then be sensitive at the next meal and you’ll enjoy that all the more
  • Focus on other holiday activities apart from eating and drinking in between mealtimes, whether that’s sightseeing, lying on the beach or by the pool, walking or swimming, doing organised activities or exploring a new area.

Pitfalls:

The all-inclusive holiday is a tricky thing to negotiate if you don’t want to gain weight while you are away. If you do want to gain weight, they are an absolute bargain. If you’ve paid to eat as much as you want and you want to gain weight, this is the way to do it. But if you don’t want to gain weight you may need to rethink what value for money means. Perhaps it means having a range of tempting foods from which you can select what you’ll most enjoy.

Having just as much as you need to be just full, of food you love, will be a hugely pleasurable experience and will mean that in a few hours time you’ll have another hugely pleasurable meal. If you find that eating less makes you anxious to start with, download the free Anxiety and how to Reduce it download from the website.

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