Top Tips for Holiday Food Choices
By Dietitian, Juliette Kellow BSc RD
Even when you're on a weight loss journey, you can still enjoy your holiday and feast on the delights of local cuisine!
Follow these simple tips and you'll stay on track and enjoy the culinary delights your destination has to offer.
Whether you're self-catering, eating out in local restaurants or on an all-inclusive package, 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 if you can’t work out the precise calorie content of all your meals – 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...
Roughly Plan your Days
Try to plan a little, 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.
Stick to Sensible Rules
Wherever and however you’re eating, aim to stick to the same healthy eating rules you follow at home as much as possible.
That means avoiding fried food, filling up on fresh fruit and vegetables, and keeping fatty and sugary foods to a minimum.
Don't Be Afraid to Ask
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.
Skip the High Calorie Extras
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.
Be Snack Savvy
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.
Watch Out for Creamy and Oily
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.
Feast on Fish
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.
Remove Excess Oil
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!
Go Easy on the Dressing
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.
Vary Your Choices
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.
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.
Watch Out for 'All You Can Eat'
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.
Pick a Picnic
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.
Don't Overindulge on Desserts
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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