Holidays. It’s a happy word right? Taking a break, getting out of dodge, you name it, we all crave it. Holidays are HEALTHY for us – that’s my first nugget for you. Exploring new environments, experiencing new cultures, spending quality time with family and friends, just taking a break from our day to day routine – trust me, it’s good for the soul. Holidays give us a chance to rest, rejuvenate, open our minds, try new things, and experience the world around us.
Yet many worry that when the time comes for a holiday, they’re going to ‘fall off the bandwagon’ by indulging a little, or a lot. In this post, I’m going to share my three tips with you for having a BALANCED holiday, whether that applies to a trip abroad or the coming Christmas season. Why? Because it’s important to remember that a holiday is a break for us, one that doesn’t have to affect any good habits we live by day to day. The four key pillars of our health – good nutrition, regular activity, quality rest, and stress management – are just as important on holiday as they are in ‘the daily grind’. These three tips will help you look after those essential aspects of a healthy lifestyle whether you’re abroad or at home on holiday.
See your day of eating as a whole – the sum of a number of choices.
So, let’s start with the big question – FOOD. Eating on holiday is of COURSE going to be totally different to your day to day diet. Why? Well, first of all, the structure of your day has changed completely, and second, your food environment and choices available are often very different too. On holidays, we eat out more – we visit friends and family, parties, cafes, restaurants, markets etc. Abroad, we experience new cuisines – pasta and pizza in Italy, or cheese and wine in France. We sleep a bit later, go to bed a bit later, and often there are many more so called ‘treat’ type foods in our environment – for example, the constant box of chocolates (Roses, Quality Street, Celebrations anyone?) at Christmas, and the mince pie madness that ensues!
So what is my tip? Well, I think we need to see the day of eating as a whole, and when I say that, I’m talking about balance. If you had a three course dinner with decadent desserts at a Christmas party or on Christmas Day (that’s 100% what we’ll be doing in my house!), then embrace that delicious meal you enjoyed, and start the next day with a wholesome breakfast to get you back on track. If you’re a croissant addict on holiday in France, why not try making sure you get a good dose of vegetables, fruit and fibre into your lunch and dinners? In general, remember that holidays and times like Christmas are such short experiences – they do not reflect your lifestyle as a whole, and your memories of these trips and festive times shouldn’t be marred by guilt associated with indulging a little. So yes, boil the kettle, make a cuppa, and enjoy a mince pie with your mom, dad, other half, grandparents, whoever!
Get moving – everyday, at home or away.
Regular daily movement is an essential part of a health lifestyle, and that’s true on holiday too. When I’m away in a new country, I just want to explore it ALL. I love reading about it before I go, to figure out the sights I should see – both the more famous tourist-heavy spots, and those off the beaten track.
Exploring new places is a great way to build activity into your day while on holiday. For example, in a new city, one of my top tips is to see as much as you can by foot or bike. Why not try activities like bike or walking tours too? That way, you can learn about your new environment at the same time – and become a total culture nerd! For those who are really keen, many cities now offer running tours too. Of course, sometimes you’ll need to use public transport due to long travel distances or weather, and that’s fine too.
When talking about holiday seasons like Christmas, slightly different rules apply. It’s a time when family and friends come together, to celebrate around delicious meals, with laughter, presents, sing-songs and games. My tip for staying active at Christmas is to make a habit of getting regular fresh air – grab your family and get out for even just a 30 minute stroll between dinner and presents! There’s often great charity events like Santa Fun Runs, walks and swims on too, which are a brilliant chance to have a laugh with others while getting your body moving!
People often ask ‘Should I workout on holiday?’ I don’t think there’s a one size fits all answer. Personally, I have a tradition of going for a run in each new place I visit – but not everyday. For some, ‘working out’ on holiday is the opposite of relaxation, and for others, it’s a great chance to exercise at their leisure, without the rush of fitting it in before or after work. Bottom line – a big part of a holiday is to come back rested, so factor that into whatever decision you go with. And on the flip side, remember that our bodies LOVE to move, and even a little helps a lot!
Embrace the memories – they are what we cherish and take home with us.
Think about holidays like this guys. Would your Christmas experience be the same without that box of chocolates passed around the table? If you didn’t have crackers to pull while you wait for the turkey to roast? Would the beach holiday you wanted be the same if you didn’t chill out and just read a book for a few hours? Or if you didn’t try the local cuisine of a new country you visit? If the answers to those questions are no, then keep reading for my final tip.
Memories are the most special thing you bring home from a holiday and the festive season, so it’s essential to make as many as you can! So if you ever get a bit of a niggle or guilt about indulging while away, remember that it’s NOT your day to day routine, and there’s a good reason for that! Instead, embrace that time off, and instead return home feeling rested, nourished, relaxed, and excited to rock back into your life.
Ciara 🙂 x