To some, one of the most challenging aspects to staying fit, healthy and maintaining their weight is going on holidays.
Desserts, alcohol, late night dinning, some pasta here and a baguette there and the weight slowly piles up to your waistline. You convince yourself that you can eat all you want and promise yourself to get back on track as soon as you get home to your routine. I am sure this sounds familiar to so many of you especially now on this EID vacation!
The truth is there is no harm to have a small treat here and there but balance is key. There are many ways to help prevent the extra kilos from slowly creeping up.
- MED DIET. Follow a Mediterranean diet which consists of lots of vegetables, plenty of fish, olive oil, some nuts, some fruit, fiber from beans & pulses, very little dairy, whole grains, red meat and a small amount of wine for those who consume alcohol. After reviewing 60 primary research studies, I can confirm that there has been an extensive amount of research to support the benefits of the Mediterranean diet on weight loss, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and healthy ageing.
- FISH. If you like fresh fish and you are close to the sea, I cannot stop encouraging the importance of including some freshly caught wild grilled fish in your diet daily. Not only will it help you lose weight but has so many benefits because it is lean source of protein and is easy to digest which makes it a great option for those late night dinners.
- GREENS. If you have a dessert or too much alcohol and wake up the next morning feeling bloated and sluggish, try to make it up by having two nutrient dense meals instead of three the next day. If you can’t, try replacing your breakfast with a green smoothie with some dark leafy vegetables, a low GI fruit, parsley or celery, a small piece of avocado to boost your detoxification pathways from the night before.
- FIBER. Fiber helps us feel full and helps keep us regular. There are two kinds of fiber: soluble fiber like what you find in oats, wholegrains, okra, beans and insoluble fiber which is found in vegetables and fruits. If you have enough fiber in your meals, it can help prevent you from munching and snacking in between your meals all day.
- LIMIT YOUR SUGAR. This is the trickiest one! If you want something sweet, try as much as possible to have 1-2 pieces of fruit instead and if you really cannot say no to the gelato or Tiramisu, have a small amount by sharing with someone. Also try to THINK about all the sugary things you have in one day, so for example avoid having fruit, dessert, fruit juice, lots of milk and sugary alcoholic drinks all on the same day. I urge you not to count calories but count grams of sugar instead!
- WALK. So simple and yet so important and we are SO DEPRIVED from movement in our daily lives. We generally spend an average of 3-4 hours in traffic a day, plus 6-8 hours in an office on a desk if you work OR on a sofa at home. Just by walking alone, you can speed up your metabolism, burn extra calories, breath fresh air, improve your mood and get your circulation moving.
- SWEAT. If you have access to the beautiful Mediterranean or Red Sea then swim, canoe, peddle, kayak. Look for any water sport you enjoy to get your heart pumping for 30 minutes a day. If you do not enjoy any watersports, then 30 minutes of jogging or brisk walking on a treadmill in the gym or biking. The key is to find an activity you enjoy and that is accessible to you so you can maintain it throughout your vacation.
- WATER. I am amazed at the amount of people who do not drink enough water. If they only knew the importance of water!! Without water, how can we cleanse our bodies from toxins? What will carry the oxygen around bodies to give us energy? If you feel tired, sluggish and even hungry, it could simply be a lack of water. Aim for an average 2 liters a day if you are a woman and 3 liters if you are man.
- SLEEP. Yes sleep can help support weight loss too. I did review some first hand research articles that showed that people who were sleep deprived had the tendency to gain more weight especially around their waistline. Sleep can help balance your hormones and help keep you ghrelin hormone “hunger hormone” at bay! Did you ever notice how hungry you can feel after a night of no sleep? This is no coincidence. If you sleep late at night, try to sleep in an extra few hours in the morning or squeeze in a siesta during the day. Aim for 8 hours of high quality sleep daily.
- BREATHE. The whole point of the holiday is to de-stress and relax! Do not forget to unwind and enjoy. Research has also shown that there is a connection between high stress levels and weight gain. We are so busy and stressed with work, family, traffic, political events, the Egyptian pound, pollution, running around all the time, etc…that we owe it to our health to REST. Throw yourself on beach, sit somewhere you enjoy, meditate, read a book, listen to music or simply DO NOTHING for a few days to recharge.
By Nadine El Alaily