Why every holiday should involve ice cream

So you’ve been eating well, exercising regularly, taking your supplements religiously, and you’re feeling good!

But now your long-awaited holiday is almost here, and suddenly you’re worried about falling off the healthy-eating wagon. Here are just some of the questions you might be asking yourself:

What if there are no healthy options on the menu?
What if I can’t prepare my own food?
How will I resist that ice cream / fish & chips / tiramisu?

What if I indulge in a few too many glasses of wine?
What if I skip my supplements for a few days?
Will this undo all my hard work?

Yes, holidays can be a complete change to our normal routine, where a lot of our healthy habits go out the window… but maybe this isn’t a bad thing.

Here, I’ll explain why you should enjoy your holiday without restriction, and will share a few tips to keep you feeling good while you’re away.

Embrace the change

When we go away and leave our well-established routines behind, we have to relinquish some control. We might not be able to buy the food we normally buy, cook as we normally do, or do our standard workout. This might leave us feeling a bit panicky, concerned that it’s going to undo all the effort we’ve put in. When we’ve come so far, the thought of taking a step backwards can be scary.

Ok, you might not be able to prepare your favourite breakfast smoothie or go to your usual exercise class, but try and see this as a good thing. Use this opportunity to try new foods, find new ways to move – leaving the routine behind can actually be inspiring and energising!

Ask yourself why you’re going on holiday

Remember that holidays are for you to relax, rest and recharge. They give us well-earned time away – a chance to explore new places, eat new foods, meet new people, and nourish ourselves and our bodies.

There is no ‘perfect’ holiday when it comes to maintaining and promoting health – no set formula for optimal health. For some, the perfect holiday might be lying by a pool with a book for two weeks, and for others it might be a week hiking in the mountains. So it’s important to let go of those perceived notions of what you should be doing on holiday to stay healthy, and instead focus on what you want and need.

Nourishment is more than the right combination of carbs, protein and fat

This is why I encourage my clients to go and enjoy their holiday, to leave their health plans behind if they want to, and to do the things that are going to nourish them. That might be a cold glass of rosé, a dip in the sea, afternoon snoozes, an ice cream, an evening stroll on the beach.

For many, taking time away to rest and relax has more health benefits than the so-called ‘unhealthy’ foods that they might be eating more of. Stress is a key cornerstone of health, and even eating the ‘perfect’ diet isn’t enough to counter chronic stress.

Let’s also not forget that food is joyful – or at least it should be! We’ve probably all experienced that giddy excitement when choosing our ice cream flavour, or the fact that fish and chips tastes better eaten on the beach straight out of the wrapping. Mealtimes spent with friends and family are so much more enjoyable than what might be a perfectly ‘balanced’ meal eaten on your own. And holidays are a perfect time to let go and really enjoy your food.

Restriction is not healthy either

When it comes to food, restriction usually only ends up going one way:

We want to eat something – let’s say an ice cream – but feel guilty about doing it, so we don’t. Then we feel miserable. We can’t stop thinking about the ice cream (and probably all the other food we’re restricting) . We keep restricting, we keep feeling miserable. That tension builds to the point where we can’t maintain it any longer – we might then binge, eating way more than we would have done in the first place. And we feel even more miserable. The key point: we should have just eaten the ice cream.

This is why I am not a fan of restriction or diets, especially on holiday. Instead, I advocate for listening to your body, eating intuitively and mindfully, and not demonising food.

A few things tips to keep you feeling good

And for those that want a bit of guidance on how to navigate their holiday, here are a few really basic tips to stay healthy and feel good whilst enjoying your time away!

01. Hydration is key

If there’s one thing to do on holiday, it’s making sure you’re drinking enough water. Dehydration can lead to us feeling tired, headachy, and constipated, so make sure you’re getting enough water – especially if you’re going somewhere hot.

Look out for signs of dehydration – including dry lips, thirst, feeling dizzy or headachy, and dark coloured urine (ideally it would be a pale straw colour).

If you are somewhere hot, electrolytes can be useful to replace the minerals that we sweat out. I love Viridian’s Electrolyte Fix liquid – just a few drops added to a bottle of water can help keep you hydrated throughout the day.

02. Move your body

It doesn’t need to be a full blown workout. Just move your body any way you fancy – whether it’s swimming, walking, a gentle stretch in the morning, a few minutes of yoga or dancing.

03. Focus on a balanced breakfast

It can sometimes be hard to control exactly what we eat during our holidays – we might be on the go, without any opportunity to prepare our own food. Breakfast is usually the meal over which we have the most control, so if you can, make sure you eat a balanced breakfast with enough protein (e.g. yogurt, cottage cheese, eggs, smoked salmon), healthy fats (e.g. nuts, seeds, avocado) and fibre (e.g. fruit, wholegrains like oats, avocado). This will help to set us up for the day, and can make a big difference to our digestion, energy and blood sugar levels.

04. Eat like the locals do

Going on holiday is a great opportunity to try some new things!

Eat like the locals do – find out what their local cuisine is and try it out. If you’re somewhere with a sunnier climate than the UK (not hard, I know), there will likely be lots of amazing fresh produce to sample. Eating as much fresh, local, seasonal, colourful produce as possible has so many health benefits – including increased fibre, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

05. Listen to your body

What are you craving? Are you full? Is that actual hunger? Are you tired? Or do you want to move your body?

Listen to your body and give it what it needs. Whether it’s food, sleep, rest or movement. In my experience, being in tune with your body and eating mindfully means we’re more likely to stop when we’re full, and to really enjoy the food we’re putting on our plates.

To learn more about mindful eating, read my blog post here.

Also, don’t be afraid to ask for what you need. Sometimes we can be scared to ‘rock the boat’ on holiday – we try and go with the flow with friends and family instead of doing what we really want (I know this only too well myself!). If you’re out at a restaurant and there’s nothing on the menu that you want, ask for something else. If you want a night in, have a night in. If you don’t want to drink, don’t drink. There’s nothing worse than feeling pressured into doing something that you didn’t want to do in the first place, so being clear up front is always a good idea.

A final word from me…

The most important thing is to enjoy your holiday! This is a time for you to relax, have fun, and make memories – not to be thinking about all the things you think you should be doing for your health.

So eat the ice cream, and make sure you enjoy it!

Fancy a chat? Book in for a free 30-minute consultation here.

Please note, this blog should not be taken as medical advice. If you have any health concerns, please consult a medical professional.