x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Take a break and maintain your weight

No matter what you do, don't "save" your calories during the day in order to have a big dinner at night.

There is no reason why you can't relax and be healthy.
There is no reason why you can't relax and be healthy.

A week or two of overindulging may not seem like a big deal but the opposite is true. Studies show small annual weight gains acquired during holidays quickly add up over time. For those already overweight, the news gets worse - they are more prone to putting on kilos while enjoying leisure time. The challenges of maintaining healthy eating habits while away from home are many. Between a disrupted schedule, irregular meal times, eating out and plenty of new food to try, gaining weight seems inevitable.

Luckily, though, a break from your usual routine does not have to mean breaking dietary rules. So, exactly how do you avoid expanding your waistline while still enjoying yourself? Not surprisingly, the answer is moderation.

When dining out, oversized portions are the biggest obstacle. Studies show that the more food put in front of you, the more you will eat. If you have a dining partner, order one main course and two plates. If it's not enough food you can always order more. If it's a buffet, have a light snack beforehand to take the edge off your hunger and avoid impulsive food choices. Start with a soup or salad and opt for a salad plate instead of a dinner plate - you will eat less overall. As for calorie traps, avoid cream sauces, gravies and fried foods, and don't be afraid to request low-calorie options.

If you're staying at a hotel, request a room with a small kitchenette so you can prepare some of your own meals. Otherwise, pay a visit to the local grocery store and stock up on essential healthy options such as fresh fruit, low-fat yogurt, high-fibre energy bars and unsalted nuts. These foods double as portable snacks for when you are out and about. As for the continental breakfast offered at most hotels, tread carefully as this meal will set the tone for the rest of the day. Skip the croissants and muffins, and go for lean protein, a piece of fruit, a whole grain and a source of calcium. A good selection, for example, might include a boiled egg, wholegrain toast, a banana and low-fat yogurt.

If staying with family and friends, don't feel that you are limited to eating what they cook for you. Arrive with an assortment of healthy ingredients, such as wholegrain bread, lean cuts of meat, plenty of fruits and vegetables and reduced-fat cheese. Better yet, offer to cook some meals - your host will appreciate this, and you will be guaranteed some healthy options while you stay there.

Wherever you are, try to stick to a schedule and evenly space your meals throughout the day. Going for long stretches between mealsmeans that you're more likely to make impulse choices of high-calorie, fatty foods when you are famished. No matter what else you do, don't "save" your calories during the day in order to have a big dinner at night. This is a common trap and inevitably leads you to end up eating more overall. Aim to eat every three to four hours to keep your energy levels up. Always start your day with breakfast - this meal is essential for boosting the metabolism and preventing poor food choices later in the day.

Don't let your exercise routine fall by the wayside when you are in a new place. In fact, being somewhere different can offer a variety of opportunities to fit additional physical activity into your day, whether it is simply taking a relaxing stroll through the city streets, going for a swim or enjoying the sites and sounds by bike.

There's no reason why you can't maintain healthy eating habits and still enjoy yourself. Make a plan ahead of time and anticipate the choices that you will be faced with. Find a balance so you can make the most of all that your destination has to offer without overdoing it.