I recently went to Bali for a holiday, and had so many questions about how I eat healthy and stay on track when travelling. I think there are a lot of people out there who get anxiety over travelling because they feel like they lose control of their food intake and will set themselves back in terms of their goals.
Well, I’m here to show you that you CAN enjoy your holiday without sacrificing your goals that you’ve been working so hard to achieve!
Here’s my tips on how to stay on track (but also how to enjoy being off track without guilt!) while on holidays.
1. Choosing the best menu options when dining out
My go to is generally a grilled, poached or baked lean protein source (fish or chicken), with salad or vegetables. I usually avoid heavy sauce or dressing or ask for it on the side so I can add a little bit without drowning my food in unnecessary calories.
You don’t have to stress yourself out by trying to track macros, but you can plan your meals around what you’ve already had that day. For example, if you’ve had a high fat meal with things like eggs, steak, nuts, avocado, bacon, seeds, granola, salmon for breakfast; choose something low fat for lunch and dinner like lean protein and salad. And vica versa. If you know you’re going to have a carb dense and fatty dinner like a burger or pizza, choose light meals throughout the day to account for the extra calories you’re going to consume later.
Also don’t be afraid to ask how things or cooked, or ask for the dressing on the side! In some countries they aren’t all that clear on the menus with what you’re getting – so don’t be afraid to ask (I have certainly ordered squid before, only to have it come out deep fried and being like DAMMIT do you reckon I can just cut the coating off and eat the insides?? 😛 ). Just ask if you’re unsure to avoid disappointment!
2. Surviving the buffet breakfast
Buffet breakfasts can be hit or miss! Luckily in Bali you can make it really healthy by ordering your own omelette and asking for no milk/cheese (or even just egg white) and veggies, or greek yoghurt with some muesli/ fruit (add some protein powder- see below!). You can get fresh veggie juices, or even fish and rice for breakfast over there!
My main tip is to avoid the bakery section. Stay away from the croissants, muffins, pancakes, etc that will give you a hit of fats and carbs but very limited protein. If you have a decent serve of protein at breakky, it will steer you away from poorer choices and keep you fuller for longer throughout the day!
My second tip is just because it’s a buffet, doesn’t mean you need to stuff yourself until your pants pop! Still have a moderate size breakfast that will keep you full isn’t so much larger than your normal breakfast that you’ll end up being bloated, overloading your digestive system and consuming a huge portion of calories at the beginning of the day.
3. Easy suitcase BYO’s that will save the day.
Here’s some things I love to have with me on holiday for those “just in case” moments.
– Protein powder in snap lock bags! These are a great addition to a buffet breakfast (or even a café), as you can add the protein to muesli/oats to help improve the protein content to a cereal based breakfast!
– Protein bars. I don’t often eat protein bars in Australia to be honest, but when I travel I do like to take some in case I’m heading out for the day and can’t find options that suit me. I mostly try to eat gluten and dairy free, and I don’t like red meat so sometimes there are limited options for me to eat (fussy I know, but I don’t really want to feel bloated and upset in the stomach when I’m on holiday so I still try to avoid those things when I’m away!). Having protein bars in my bag as a back-up helps me to get through those situations.
– Oats/ rice flakes. As above, great easy breaky option to make in the hotel along with your protein powder if you need to.
4. Letting go of your guilt and enjoying the holiday.
Have you heard the saying that “one bad meal won’t make you fat. Just like one salad won’t make you skinny”? On holidays, you need to remember that it’s OK to eat a meal that isn’t something you would usually eat just because you damn well feel like it! You’re in another country, and not experiencing some of the cuisine over there as part of your experience would be a crime! If you eat a bad meal, you might hold some water the next day or two but you won’t gain fat from eating one bad meal. It’s when people eat crap the WHOLE holiday that they come back 5kg + heavier. Same with a drink or two every few days. It won’t hurt if you have a few every now and then, its if you drink every day that you will start to see weight gain.
5. Train because you want to, not because you have to
If you want to workout and go to the gym on your holiday, then by all means DO IT! I love doing a workout in the morning on holidays. It sets me up with good energy for the day and I genuinely feel better if I’ve moved than if I take a heap of time off training. But it’s important not to let your training rule your holiday! You shouldn’t sacrifice things on holiday because you need to get your training in, or because you feel guilty for eating and that you need to exercise. You should choose to exercise on holiday if it makes YOU feel better, and because you enjoy it, not because you feel like you have to in order to allow yourself indulgence. Having a week or two off training isn’t going to cause you major setback, so if you prefer not to train on holiday then just take the time off and enjoy it or plan you ! Making good food choices is going to be more important than working out in terms of staying in good shape for your return.
6. Stay somewhere with a kitchen
The best way to keep some control of your eating while you’re away is to stay somewhere with a kitchen (or private chef if you’re in Asia!) so that you can cook your own healthy meals instead of eating out all the time. When you eat out, it’s hard to control extra oils and flavours hidden in our food so it’s always likely to be more calorie dense than if you cook yourself. It’s great to be able to have a break from eating out and cook some of your own food while you’re away. You can save you a bit of money doing it that way too!
Accept that flying and eating different foods WILL lead to fluid retention.
Remember that its normal for your body to hold fluid after flying (for more than 1 hour), and so it’s NOT a good idea to step of the scale the day after you’ve got back from holidays. Similarly, eating more carbs/ more sodium etc from your holiday can cause extra fluid retention. So I would give yourself a few days of healthy eating and getting back into a training routine before you weight yourself!
A great way to combat fluid retention from flying is to firstly, stay hydrated on the plane! Drink plenty of water and take some hydralyte when you fly- in the end you’re sitting in a plane with recycled air and we tend to drink less on a plane so we don’t have to go to the bathroom all the time. Try to keep those fluids up!
When you get back, you can use some natural diuretics to help flush the excess water out of your system. Things like dandelion tea, lemon water, asparagus and celery are great diuretic foods. Get some turmeric and omega 3’s through things like flaxseed oil, walnuts, or salmon to help reduce inflammation as well and you’ll feel back to your normal self in no time!
Holidaying should be about enjoyment, not restriction. But you don’t have to let all your hard work go out the window. I hope these tips have helped you gain an insight into how to make better choices while on holiday so you can enjoy your trip but come back feeling good and ready to get back into your routine!
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