Carbs make you fat.
Eating late at night causes fat gain.
You need to avoid bad foods.
All of the above statements represent nutrition dogma that we’ve all been led to believe. Myths surrounding the way we should be eating to lose weight. I’m going to spend the rest of this article bursting your bubble: none of these statements are true. I will show you exactly how, during a recent European vacation, I ate nothing but pastries, gelato, and cheese for 10 days and didn’t gain a single pound—and how you can do this too. (Whether you’re traveling to Europe or just have an infatuation for gelato.)
The Spanish way of life completely contradicts every statement I made at the beginning of this article. Their breakfast consists of some sort of pastry or sandwich. (By sandwich I really just mean a loaf of bread.) Their lunch is either non-existent or another sandwich. (Aka another piece of bread.) Finally for dinner, which usually doesn’t occur until after 9pm, they consume the bulk of their calories in the form of various seafood or meat dishes (lots of shellfish and pork) and, you guessed it, more bread.
Naturally, during my ten day visit to Spain, this represented my daily consumption: a pastry in the morning, gelato in the afternoon for lunch (because, ice cream), and finally around 10pm a giant feast of various tapas always ending in dessert (because, vacation). I might consume either a protein shake or protein bar in the afternoon because I didn’t feel like I was getting enough protein.
Upon my return home I checked my weight to assess how much damage control would be necessary. I didn’t gain a single pound. If you want the freedom to break the nutrition rules on vacation and avoid the consequences, here’s how to do it.
Option 1: The Fitness Enthusiast
This option is for those individuals like me, who are very dedicated to their fitness program. They exercise every day of the week, have a pretty tight control over their diet, and love their routine. For these individuals, the thought of breaking the dieting rules creates an uneasy feeling of “wrongness.”
Do Your Workouts Early In The Morning
Whether on vacation or at home, complete your normal (or close to normal) workouts first thing in the morning. Particularly on vacation this will require waking up early before your travel companions. I was traveling with my girlfriend, and the only way to have the time to dedicate to finding a gym or going for a run that didn’t cut into our vacation time together was to get it done before she was awake. You may sacrifice a little bit of sleep, but this is a necessary evil if you want to maintain this type of exercise schedule on vacation.
Be Active During The Day
In Spain we walked everywhere. In fact, I checked my phone pedometer for the days prior to our departure and I was only averaging 1.2 miles per day. In Spain I averaged 8 miles per day. This has a couple benefits: you will burn more calories, the time you spend walking you don’t spend eating, and the light activity will help with the digestion of these “less favorable” foods.
Eat Less Frequently Throughout The Day
As I mentioned earlier, we would start the day with a single pastry. Then we likely wouldn’t eat again until a midday protein snack and/or gelato. Finally culminating in a large dinner at night. In other words, our days were filled with two snacks during the day, a big dinner, and lots of fasting in between. Even though our snacks were high calorie, and the meal very large, the reduced frequency of eating helped to keep our overall calorie balance in check. (Especially when coupled with both the morning workouts and walking.)
Always Order Dessert
Okay, this one might not be a requirement, but you’re on vacation! Enjoy yourself and eat the things you want to eat. Your day-to-day home routine is the time to rein in your food choices, not the once-a-year (or longer) vacation.
Option 2: The Health-Conscious
This second series of steps is for those individuals who regularly participate in exercise and are mindful of their food choices, but aren’t nearly as gung-ho about it as the fitness enthusiasts. These folks might not even particularly enjoy exercise, but understand the benefits and participate anyways. These are the steps that my girlfriend followed while we were away, and she actually lost two pounds during our trip.
Make sure you are getting enough sleep because travel can throw your body out of balance very easily. Getting enough sleep will help regulate your appetite and ensure you feel good for the adventures that lie ahead. You can opt to sleep in while your fitness-enthusiast significant other goes to the gym.
Be Active during The Day
This might look familiar, and it should. This part is imperative to your success. Walk as often as you can, to as many places as you can. My girlfriend and I made a rule: we could get gelato every day if we wanted but we had to walk the 2-mile round trip to our favorite gelato store. Use those feet baby.
Eat Less Frequently During The Day
Again, this will help reduce your chances of over-consuming calories throughout the day, especially when you’re consuming high-calorie foods. If you keep busy and are spending some extra time walking from place to place, you likely won’t even notice that you’re only eating a couple times a day.
ALWAYS Order Dessert
You’re on vacation remember? Eat all the dessert. However, if you choose the sleep-in option, I would encourage you to order the smallest size of whatever dessert you are enjoying. You’re not expending as many calories without a workout. If you feel like you’re missing out by only having a small amount of dessert, fear not. You can always get more tomorrow.
Vacations are the times in life where you should be creating lasting memories, not worrying about your diet. This doesn’t automatically mean you have to throw all mindfulness out the window while you’re away. If you follow these steps you can have the vacation of a lifetime and return home in tip-top shape.
Want help customizing a diet plan that fits into your life and allows you to eat your favorite foods? Contact me today to inquire about my coaching services. Click here to message.