December 11, 2014

The thought of holiday weight gain often strikes fear into the heart. Eating and drinking differently to normal certainly has the potential to cause weight gain, but it doesn’t have to be this way.

The definition of the saying “Forewarned is forearmed” is that knowing in advance what is to come gives you an advantage.

A recent holiday in the fattest nation on earth, the USA, set a big challenge. This is the land of super-sizing, free refills, and take-away food options so numerous it makes your head spin. Our excitement for the holiday was tempered with fear of poor food choices, weight gain and generally feeling lousy.

Rather than cave in to the obvious difficulties, we decided to avoid them as much as possible. This conscious decision-making started well in advance of the trip, but remained clear and consistent for the duration. Here are the major strategies we employed:

  1. Book accommodation with kitchen facilities. All you then have to do is find a supermarket and you can cook your normal breakfast. One meal of the day is taken care of. Then, depending on what’s on the agenda for the day, you can also prepare lunch and/or dinner and avoid the take-away temptations. This might sound a bit boring, especially for those who don’t like cooking or look forward to a break from it, but most of us don’t want to regret the holiday for what it does to the waistline. Once you’re back home, the memories of the holiday are in the events, sights, and activities you experienced, not in the meals you ate.
  2. If you eat at restaurants or get take-away food, kept the focus in mind to ensure that the meal contains some protein, some vegies, and some fat. This enables a wide variety of options, though depending on where you’re holidaying, it can indeed sometimes be difficult. In winter, many places offer very hearty and tasty soups, which make for good lunches. These same places may also offer salads, so summer is just as easy.
  3. Don’t be scared to ask for changes to an advertised meal in a restaurant or even a take-away. Even if they can’t grant your request, at least you asked. (We found a burger place that wrapped the burger in lettuce rather than a bun – yum!)
  4.  The next thing is to keep really busy. Fill each day with activities, destinations, and ‘bucket list’ events. Walk A LOT, both to see more of each place you visit and as your major mode of transport. This helps with keeping busy and maintaining (or increasing) exercise. You may make the most amazing discovery: you’re too busy to think about food. Hunger rather than appetite or temptation becomes the reason for eating.

This does not mean that you have to be disciplined and controlled in every aspect of your holiday. Enjoy it, break out if the occasion (and your emotion) warrants it, and keep in mind the purpose of your holiday. These strategies just mean that you can keep some focus on the weight and health goals you’ve been working so hard to achieve. Above all else, enjoy your holiday.