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Holiday Food

By Dietitian, Juliette Kellow BSc RD

Whether you're self-catering, eating out in local restaurants or on an all-inclusive package where all your meals are catered for, use your holiday to try new foods that you haven’t tasted before.

You might discover a whole new list of ingredients to experiment with when you get home. Don’t worry either if you can’t work out the precise calorie content of all your meals, either – if you're only on holiday for a couple of weeks and choose sensibly most of the time, you won’t do too much damage. But to give you a helping hand, follow these guidelines.

  1. Roughly plan your days, including when and where you’re likely to eat. If you’re planning a long, leisurely lunch, then aim to have a smaller dinner. Or if you’re going to try the ‘eat-all-you-can-eat’ Mediterranean buffet for dinner, only have a light lunch. Don’t skip meals though, otherwise you’ll end up eating more than you normally would when you’re finally faced with food.
  2. Wherever and however you’re eating, aim to stick to the same healthy eating rules you follow at home. That means avoiding fried food, filling up on fresh fruit and vegetables, basing your meals on bread, potatoes, rice or pasta and keeping fatty and sugary foods to a minimum.
  3. Although many countries don’t have the healthy options available in the UK such as low-fat spread and skimmed milk, it’s always worth asking, especially in the larger hotels.
  4. Skip the bread that often comes at the start of a meal. And if you can’t resist, make sure you have it without butter or oil.
  5. Nibble on olives rather than peanuts – they only have 3 calories each, compared to peanuts which have 150 calories per small handful. If the olives come in oil, use a serviette to dab off any excess.
  6. Steer clear of dishes that come in rich, creamy sauces or contain pastry. And avoid meals that contain a lot of oil. Anything that’s described as being pan-fried, deep-fried, sautéed, flambéed or roasted will have been cooked with oil.
  7. If you’re staying near the coast, there will probably be plenty of fish and seafood on the menu, which not only tastes delicious, but is also reasonably low in calories and fat providing it’s not fried. Don’t be afraid to try more unusual fish such as crab, lobster, monkfish, mussels, oysters, King prawns, langoustines, sardines, swordfish and red mullet.
  8. If dishes such as lasagne, moussaka and risotto look like they’re swimming in oil, use a serviette or piece of bread to soak up the excess. Just don’t eat the bread if that’s the only thing available!
  9. Be careful when you order salads. It may seem like you're having the healthiest option on the menu, but they may be drowning in dressing. Don’t be afraid to ask the waiter for it to come with dressing on the side.
  10. Remember, you don't have to sample every item on offer, eat everything on your plate or go for all three courses. For example, have a starter or dessert, but not both – and vary your combinations every day so you don’t feel you're missing out. And if you’re on an all-inclusive holiday, remind yourself that just because it’s all paid for, it doesn’t mean you have to pile as much food onto your plate as you can.
  11. Don’t let ‘all-you-can-eat’ buffets be your diet slayer! While it’s easy to overindulge, the good news is, there will nearly always be plenty of healthy options to choose from. Fill your plate just once and don’t go back for seconds. The best options are fruit, cereal and bread for breakfast, grilled fish or chicken with lots of vegetables and salad for main meals, and fresh fruit available for desserts and snacks.
  12. For day’s out, put together your own picnics using fresh foods from local stores. Stock up on fresh fruit, tomatoes, bread and a little cheese and ham for a balanced meal that won’t break the calorie bank.
  13. Choose desserts carefully – fresh fruit salad, ice-cream, sorbets and meringue-based puddings are good choices. But skip the extra serving of cream or ice cream.

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