Vacation time: adapting your food intake when you’re not following your routine

Vacation time: adapting your food intake when you’re not following your routine

Silvia Leite Faria

Constant stress has been one of the greatest enemies of our health in this generation. The lines between work, personal and family obligations, as well as excessive exposure to electronic devices has disrupted our quality of life. Excessive stress disrupts the quality of our sleep, increases our appetite, along with the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease. Therefore, vacations are fundamental to suspend our stressful routine, enjoy happy moments with our family and give attention to our health.

However, many people, for lack of information, associate their vacation with a chance to break their routine, seizing the chance to include all types (and unrestricted quantities) of foods that put on weight.

This, in fact, is not necessary. It is best to associate the opportunity to go on vacation and enjoy the rest practicing healthy habits (with common sense, no neuroses please!). Here are a few tips that I always offer to my patients.

– Vacations are opportunities to engage in some physical activity, and, often, these activities are different from those we are accustomed to. This is great because our body gets used to our routine activities. Changing the type of activity is always a new challenge for our organism. So beaches are excellent places for long walks, new towns and parks are other opportunities to take a pleasureable stroll. Hotels, inns and resorts also often have a small gym, so be sure to pack your walking shoes.

– The food you eat can change too, but you don’t have to eat only those tempting foods that are not so good for you. Eat a hefty, healthy breakfast, preferably with a protein source (scrambled or boiled eggs, cheese, yogurt, tofu). This will help you feel full throughout the day. Besides this, new hotels and locations give us the chance to try different fruits. Avoid an excess of juices because they are caloric and do not give you a feeling of being full.

– At lunch and dinner prefer roasts. Fried foods have triple the calorific value. That does not mean you will never eat a fried fish on vacation, but you do not have to eat one every day, right? If you think you are going to have lunch later than usual (which happens on vacation!), try to take some snacks in a bag (nuts, dried fruits, protein bars) or take a drink of some delicious coconut water.

– Do not go too long without eating since this leads you to eat any kind of food without much criterion of choice. I always take healthy snacks with me. On the first day, I usually look for a place nearby where I can stock up on healthy snacks. This helps a lot in controlling carbohydrates. The difficulty I find is that the most common and available snacks are sources of refined carbohydrates (like cookies, biscuits and other industrialized products). Leave these highly industrialized products for an emergency. Remember: vacations are important to our mind and body, but it’s not worthwhile to intoxicate your body every day with foods that have a high glycemic index.

– Alcohol can also be consumed in moderation (if you are not sick, naturally!). Despite the come-on “alcohol relaxes”, there are many other healthy activities you can do to relax, like walking, running, swimming, going to the sauna or practicing yoga. Leave the alcoholic beverages for special moments. And, on those days, drink plenty of water, since this decreases the dehydration that alcohol causes in our body.

– Sweets can also be consumed in moderation. We should avoid extremes: neither everyday, nor never. Every once in a while, we can give in to an urge to have a tasty dessert. You can even share yours with someone. And besides this, fruit popsicles are a great choice because they have lower caloric value than ice cream and other desserts.

So, don’t forget to take full advantage of your vacation. You and your family need these moments. But it’s not worthwhile to make this an excuse to eat anything and everything.

Have a happy 2019, with less stress and more health!

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