A summer holiday is something many of us look forward to all year. There’s nothing better than escaping the routine of everyday life for some sun, sea and sand. For many people, the highlight of any holiday is enjoying foods in local restaurants and luxurious all-inclusive buffets. The downside is that being on holiday often makes it harder to stick to healthy eating plan. Fatty and calorie-laden foods are far more tempting!
In order to come home with a tan and without a big weight gain, we’ve got a handy guide. Healthy eating in five top holiday destinations is simple!
Healthy Eating: Greece
It can be easy to over-indulge in Greece. Everywhere you turn, you’ll find hearty dishes high in calories. Examples include moussaka (a mixture of potatoes, aubergine and minced lamb with a creamy sauce) and pastitsio (a layered pasta dish with beef or lamb in tomato sauce and creamy béchamel).
Avoid: Go easy on the moussaka; the average portion contains more than 550 calories and 40g of fat. Skip the baklava – the classic Greek dessert made from pastry, nuts and honey or syrup. One small piece can contain 300 calories, 20g of fat, and is full of sugar!
Instead: Look for dolmades on the menu. These stuffed vine leaves are filled with rice and spices and cooked in a light broth. This makes them nutritious and low in calories. Alternatively, a Greek salad combining feta cheese, tomatoes, cucumber, and onion can be a good choice – just don’t overdo the salad dressing. Alternatively, opt for souvlaki (grilled skewers of meat) and fill up with a huge fresh side salad. For dessert, go for the fresh fruit option instead: delicious.
Healthy Eating: France
When you think of France, white crusty bread and slabs of cheese come to mind. Sadly, these foods are bad news for waistlines – but it is possible to holiday in France and stay on the healthy eating bandwagon…
Avoid: With buttery, flaky pastry, croissants are the classic French breakfast. However, each one can contain up to 400 calories and 20g of fat, and they’re not particularly filling. It’s worth skipping crème brulee for dessert, too, as a small portion packs in at least 250 calories and 20g of fat.
Instead: Look out for Salad Nicoise on restaurant menus. This filling salad is made with tuna, potatoes, and eggs, making it a good balance of protein and carbs. It’s usually less than 400 calories. Lean steak is also a good choice – just skip the frites and ask for a side salad instead. You could also shop at local markets and cook at your apartment with fresh produce.
Healthy Eating: Spain (inc. Balearic and Canary Islands)
From tapas to paella, the colourful, delicious dishes found in Spain and the Canary Islands can be hard to resist. However, you don’t have to go hungry while you holiday in Spain.
Avoid: Tapas is on nearly every menu in this region. To avoid calorie overload, steer clear of dishes that contain chorizo. This spicy Spanish sausage is full of fat and has a whopping 400 calories per one cup serving. Also avoid deep fried options. Fish and olive tapas dishes are a healthier choice. Paella may sound healthy as it often contains vegetables and fish. However, it can be high in salt and white rice is high in refined carbs so it’s better to go for other options.
Instead: There’s nothing better than fresh fish while you’re on holiday near the sea, and Spanish restaurants often have a great selection. Whether it’s grilled squid or seared seabass, team it with a salad and some new potatoes and tuck in guilt-free! Gazpacho – a tomato-based soup that’s usually served cold – is also a nutritious and light alternative.
Healthy Eating: Italy
Whether it’s delicious bread or tasty pasta, Italy and carbs seem to effortlessly go hand-in-hand. Of course, while excess carbs can be nice for our taste buds, they can wreak havoc on our waistlines.
Avoid: Pizza is probably the biggest no-no in Italy. Anything more than one slice is going to send the number of calories you consume through the roof, particularly if it’s topped with fatty meats like salami. Creamy carbonara is another one to avoid, as it’s high in carbs and fat and can exceed 800 calories for a single portion.
Instead: Don’t cross pasta off the menu entirely! Opt for something like penne alla primavera (penne tossed with spring vegetables and fresh herbs) or a tomato-based dish instead. Insalata (Italian salad) is also a healthy option. Ask your waiter for options that don’t have a creamy or oily dressing and avoid croutons. Italian cold vegetable salads are another good option.
Healthy Eating: United States
The USA is well-known for its giant portions and wide range of fried, unhealthy foods. A holiday to popular destinations like Florida is a potential minefield for the calorie-conscious. However, there are still plenty of healthy options on offer if you know what to look out for.
Avoid: It sounds obvious, but anything deep-fried is going to be high in calories and fat. That includes fried chicken (just one piece packs more than 300 calories) and French fries (a standard serving comes in at 360 calories). It’s not just dinner time that can be a danger-zone; breakfast is also a time to be careful. Two pancakes and maple syrup clock up more than 500 calories and a single plain donut comes in at 250 calories. Whilst seemingly healthy, fruit smoothies and juices may contain loads of sugar. Although they contain some vitamins too (which makes them a better option than fizzy drinks), you are better off sticking with the iced water that is provided free with every meal.
Instead: You can find filling and healthy salads at most restaurants across America, even at fast food establishments. For example, TGI Friday do a Cobb salad that contains chopped egg, tomato, avocado, and lean grilled chicken. It’s 590 calories for a huge portion! Make sure you ask for dressing on the side or you may find your meal drenched in gloopy, sugary dressing. Scrambled eggs with lean bacon and wholewheat toast makes for a healthy breakfast that will fire up your metabolism in the morning. Also, consider asking for a child’s portion, sharing a main, or ordering a starter size only as American portions are HUGE!
Tempted to indulge in a drop of alcohol whilst relaxing by the pool? Cocktails, particularly if cream- or fruit-based, can be packed with sugar and calories. Stick to spirits and mixers, a glass of wine, or weak beer if you want to keep the calorie count down.