Summer means holidays to look forward to. The state of mental calm that a holiday brings is welcome and, indeed, needed for the body to recuperate from the harsh impact of stressful living.
But like it or not, holidays come with mixed feelings of joy and apprehension. Joy because you look forward to a much-deserved break, and apprehension because you fear the side effects of getting out of shape. And if, like most, you believe that holidays should only embody a “khao, piyo, mauj karo (eat, drink and relax)” approach, then perhaps you are in for more than a spot of trouble.
So how can you holiday without the side effects of losing shape?
For starters, stop feeling guilty—you deserve a break.
It is important that you de-stress, spend more time with friends and family, and take in the calm of new locales far away from the madness of the city. That’s because calm minds inevitably make for a calmer body and a less reactive metabolism. The stresses of everyday living have a way of enlarging fat stores even if you follow a reasonably healthy lifestyle. So do let your hair down. But do so with moderation to avoid the undesirable side effects of a vacation.
Also, while on holiday, follow a “lesser of the evils” approach:
•Steamed or grilled chicken or fish is always better than deep-fried fare of the Kentucky Fried Chicken-type. Of course, take care to see that grilled foods are not burnt brown (browned meats are carcinogenic). Similarly, grilled or lightly cooked veggies, even potatoes, are much better than deep-fried cutlets or tikkis.
• Jacket potato or baked potato is better than mashed potato. A jacket potato is lower in calories (the mash is loaded with butter, cream and milk) and the potato skin is a good source of iron.
• Alcohol is better with water or soda than mixed with cola or fruit juice, as soda and water have zero calories and no sugar at all. And yes, drink in moderation anyway.
Fibre rich:Eat fruits rather than drinking juices.
• For desserts, a light fruit salad is obviously better than ice creams, but a frozen dessert is itself better than gooey brownies or cheesecakes (and more satisfying in summer’s heat).
• Soup before meals is a nice way to fill up and not overeat through your main courses.
• If you must have fruit juices, then dilute these with water. This way you can reduce the overload of sugar (the natural kind in fruit) that comes in a tall glass of juice. Six oranges make a glass of juice: that’s a shot of 500 calories. Fruit in its whole form is always healthier as its fibre fills you up and helps you eat less.
• Roasted nuts such as almonds, pistachios, groundnuts and walnut halves are better as snacks than patties, samosas and wafers—but make sure they are not fried or over-salted, and have only a handful.
Practise active rest
Remember that the human body must be active. This holiday, take a break from the done-to-death gym workouts and do something different.
• Swimming and yoga are enjoyable and calming, and almost always accessible. But try something refreshing for both mind and body, such as an early morning nature walk, as well. Count the species of flowers, birds or butterflies that you come across. This way, you will engage your mind and free it from mundane stressful thoughts. End the walk with some deep stretching, deep breathing and relaxation.
• If you are a night person, try a light jog along the beach by moonlight. Don’t take the iPod; listen to the sound of the waves.
• Play hide and seek, dodge ball, baseball or rounders with the family. Decide not to use the car on certain days, and only cycle or walk on those days.
Season to shape up
If you are overweight or diabetic and holidaying, it is critical that you always remain on the right side of moderation.
Of course, the ideal way is to get into shape before the holiday. This way you will hardly feel guilty and the side effects will be few and far between. So get cracking with your health resolution now and do all that it takes to holiday in the best shape you can. Then staying in the best shape through the holiday will become a whole lot easier.
Madhuri Ruia is a nutritionist and Pilates expert. She runs InteGym in Mumbai, which advocates workouts with healthy diets.
Write to Madhuri at firstname.lastname@example.org