How To Do Guilt Free Indulging on Holidays

Which of the following tickle your taste buds when setting off on vacation?

Waking up with a warm home-cooked croissant in a traditional French patisserie in Paris? / Nasi Goreng washed down by a cool Bintang on a hot day in Bali? / Sipping sunset cocktails from your Villa overlooking the beaches of Koh Phangan? / A tour of wine tasting through the vineyards of Tuscany perhaps? It’s holiday time, how could you resist?!

We all take holidays for different reasons, but for the majority of us, it is about unwinding, adventure, indulgence + experiencing different cultures + good food…

Being a foodie (like myself), knowing that you are going to be placed in tempting situations where a choice will need to made, “to indulge, or not to indulge?” plus not to mention the sweet call of cocktail hour each evening, can be a frightening thought, especially if you have just reached the dress size you have been sweating your guts out for leading up to your departure.

When it comes to jetting off on holidays, my clients often ask me:

a) how can I enjoy the cuisine?

b) keep the weight off?

c) avoid being a pain or a party pooper for my traveling companions?

Personally, the thought of breaking out of the everyday surroundings that support my day-to-day healthy living to go on holiday was a rather daunting feeling this time around knowing I was heading for the dining mecca of the world, New York.

One week prior to starting our trip, my boyfriend, who is as pedantic, if not more with his health than me, said to me, “Honey, when we go away, I would really like us to let loose and eat what ever we feel like!”  Yikes… this really got me thinking about how I could get away with a little indulgence whilst somehow making sure I can still fit in to my size eight jeans nine weeks later…

Now it may sound counter-intuitive that a primal, health guru like me would write such an article today, and some die hard devotees may frown upon my approach. However, for those who consciously follow an 80:20 paleolithic lifestyle (myself and the majority of my clients), I have found that a little change in the ratio for a short stint, will do no harm – if approached the right way.

Firstly, it’s no secret that I love food and so far, I have most certainly chosen my moments to indulge. The way in which I do, has allowed me to relished in the moments and I feel fantastic for it! My mind has thanked me for the gentle guilt free approach, and my taste buds have been savouring all the different flavours (so far, I am still rocking my size eight jeans)

So today, I am here to share a few techniques I use whilst traveling which have allowed me (and hopefully you) to indulge a little on holiday.

 Principal No 1. Exercise

Unless you are completely burnt out from work and taking a vacation of complete R&R, I strongly suggest you continue on with your exercise routine. If you are settling in somewhere for a few weeks or more, get to know what is on offer in your area, you can use the internet to hunt down and join in on some really great group fitness activities.

I stumbled across and quickly signed myself up for some seriously intense, sweaty SoulCycle classes here in NYC which I have been in a frenzy over!!

It’s also a great way to mix with the local people and make some friends along the way. If you are on a budget, don’t let it stop you. Step out in to the park or your hotel room for a body weight workout! I like to exercise when I first wake up so I can let the day take me where ever I wish with no time restraints.

Tip >> Don’t obsess over, nor make your work out the central focus of your day – after all, you are on holiday! If you have other things planned, give yourself permission to take the day off… however I do suggest you keep a loose routine and try your best to get something in every second day (3-4 times per week) if only for 20 minutes.

 Principal No 2. Start Your Day on the Right Foot

Treat breakfast as a clean slate, a chance to nurture yourself and nourish your body. Studies show that when we start the day the right way, the chances of the rest of our day following in this fashion is far higher than when we set our mouth to a plate full of pancakes first thing. My boyfriend and I wake up each morning, and instead of heading straight out and finding food at a restaurant, we start with some home cooked boiled eggs and grilled silver beet – we love it!! Then we head out to our favourite coffee spot.

NYC Tip >> It’s no secret that it can be hard to find a good coffee in NYC, we go to JOES each morning and I am yet to have a bad coffee there, it’s wonderful.

 Principal No 3. Use my 2:1 Method

Make two out of three meals pristine, then use your third meal (lunch or dinner) as your “free” meal (and when I say meal, I mean one meal, not a three course/degustation or all you can eat buffet).

For the two wholesome meals I would suggest you keep within the primal principals. Keep your sugar intake to two pieces of fruit per day, avoid grains where possible, and steer clear of the bread that is often served as a complimentary starter in restaurants.

Tip >> Get the most out of your “free” meal by eating slowly. Take notice when you are feeling full, put your fork down in between mouthfuls and enjoy the meal in front of you. When you allow yourself freedom, rather than feelings of guilt – you will feel relaxed, your digestion will improve, and you will be less likely to over eat.

If you choose dinner as your free meal, I suggest opting for a hearty salad for lunch. I have been having an incredible roast chicken salad at a place called Sarabeth’s just around the corner from our apartment, it fills me up with plenty of fresh vegetables so I feel relaxed and nourished when indulging in my “free” meal if I so wish. If lunch is your preferred choice, I suggest stopping in for some light sushi for dinner, or finding a lean cut of meat with some grilled vegetables.

 Principal No 4. Abandon Feelings of Guilt

This spreads to all areas of your life. No good can come from feeling guilty, and it is such a common feeling that arises in our every day living. Be mindful if these feelings arise around meal times – especially prior to picking up your fork. In my experience working with client’s and their emotional attachments and habits – this is often when you are more likely to over eat or find yourself gorging with thoughts like, “I’ve had a little, I may as well have a lot!” Set yourself free from feeling like you are doing something naughty and see how your relationship to food changes.

 Principal No 5. Portions

As mentioned, when people go on holidays they often see this as the time to lash out and eat to the point of revolt. Whether it’s our psychological attachments or simply because we enjoy the food so much, it is a very rewarding and helpful attribute, to know when we are feeling full, and when to stop. If you are eating too quickly, you may recognise these feelings a little too late (have you ever gotten up from the dinner table to realise how stuffed you are?) Dinner-time is an especially a good time to pay close attention to this, as we want our body to rest and repair whilst we are sleeping, rather than churning away trying to work on digesting our last big meal for the day.

Bonus Handy Hints

> Try not to snack too much between meals, I find three clean meals, evenly spaced in between suits me perfectly.

> Take Chlorella or another form of Greens in supplement form – this way your body is always getting nutrients no matter what.

> Pack a form of Probiotics that do not need to be refrigerated. Keeping my gut health in order is paramount when I travel, so I take one in the morning and one before bed each evening. I feel it helps with elimination and immunity.

> Take a leaf from my book, and eat breakfast in your room – Eggs + Spinach is my numero uno suggestion!!

> Look for incidental exercise – such as walking instead of taking the subway if it’s only 10-20 blocks. Explore your neighborhood by foot – I have found some amazing shops and places to visit by doing this!

> Drink plenty of H20 – investing in a BPA-free drink bottle with an inbuilt filter can save you (+ the planet) a lot of money, stop you from consuming unwanted extra estrogen, and ensures that you always have fresh, filtered water to hand.

> Order sides of steamed/garden vegetables – I always look for extra vegetables on the menu as a way to pack in some extra nutrition.

> When in doubt, leave it out. This is specific to getting yourself in to hairy situations (India rings a bell for me) trust your gut, if it means waiting an extra hour or two to find a clean restaurant then so be it.

> Get plenty of sleep!

> Take Melatonin, to combat jet lag for the first few days of your trip.

> Always pack runners + exercise gear!

> Avoid alcohol on the plane trip – it’s the quickest way to dehydrate your body, disturb your sleep and leave you feeling ratty on the other end.

> I never drink alcohol on consecutive days… I also limit my drinking to one glass at any one time, this helps me enjoy my days more, without feeling dusty, and stops extra weight gain/fluid retention!

Do you have any hot tips you use to help you enjoy your holiday? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!

Bon Voyage!



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