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12 Steps to Healthy Holidays

With the end of the year approaching, there is bound to be a lot of eating, drinking and travelling to coincide with the festivities and the New Year. After all, that is what holidays are about – rewarding yourself for the year’s hard work by relaxing and indulging in food, drinks and retail therapy. It is only when the holidays have ended that the aftermath of the merry-making sets in. The body is fatigued and the mind probably more stressed than before with having to cope with an ill body.

Coming back from a holiday doesn’t have to be tough on the body and mind.

Here are 12 tips for everyone to keep themselves fit and healthy no matter if it’s a beach holiday, party or hiking expedition that you are going for.

Get a vitamin boost

The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in the US estimates that up to 50% of international travellers suffer from travellers’ diarrhoea. It is understandably so, as your stomach might not react too well to food in new places (or ‘new’ eating habits). Therefore, consume probiotics three weeks before you set off to avoid falling prey to this energy-sapping and dehydrating bowel condition. It is easy to get your required dose of probiotics as cultured milk drinks such as Vitagen, Yakult and Nutrigen all have them. Boost your health even further by taking vitamins and supplements while you are on holiday. Vitamin B is especially needed as it serves to enhance your immunity and promote cell growth while vitamin C is great for warding off bouts of cough and cold. Make sure you have lots of fruits, dark leafy greens, whole grains and beans in your diet as health boosters.

Save the snacks for last

At the buffet table, help yourself to the healthy main courses first instead of ‘cheating’ and starting with dessert. By the time you are ready for dessert, your stomach would be almost full and you will indulge less in sweet pastries and confectionery. Also, instead of using the usual large plate for your meal, use the smaller dessert plates to avoid heaping your plate with too much food that you will be forcing yourself to finish thereafter. Take only three different types of food each time and if you want to go one step further, take food such as chicken wings and unshelled prawns which will leave evidence behind of how much you’ve eaten. Seeing the heap of ‘evidence’ will probably scare you after you’ve seen how much you have eaten, and you’re likely to feel embarrass too when the others see the mess.

Work it out

That’s what the gyms in the hotels are for! But if you simply don’t want to go into the gym, you can spend a few minutes a day to doing sit-ups before you get out of bed or doing leg lifts while blow-drying the hair. Walking through the shopping mall is an excellent way to exercise which no one would complain about. You don’t have to go to the gym as long as there are physical movements that keep your blood pumping.

DID YOU KNOW: The part of your “belly fat” that can do you the most harm may actually be the fat you don’t see. It resides in the “omentum,” a kind of internal sheet that lies over and around your internal organs.

Go green and raw

Don’t just heap your plate with meat and desserts at the dinner table. To promote good digestion and to fill your tummy before a meal, eat a salad of mixed greens that are rich in vitamins, mineral and enzymes. Green vegetables are also an exceptional source of minerals and are good at preventing constipation.

Then, choose one day per week to eat and drink raw food. Experiment with broccoli, spinach, kale, sprouted beans and seeds to create a variety of raw and healthy meals. For instance, there are lasagnes and apple pies made from raw fruits and vegetables which assist in weight loss, vitamin and antioxidant absorption and energy booster. If you find raw vegetables a little difficult to swallow, you can opt for juice instead.

Focus on fibre

Fibre-based foods such as beans, vegetables and greens are beneficial for healthy bowels. You don’t want to be constipated on your holiday, so focus on these foods for a healthy holiday. Alternatively, there are several dietary fibre drinks in the market such as Benefiber, Fabermax, Metamucil and Dulcofiber which can be brought along on trips and easily consumed.

Sky juice is the best

Water is such a simple thirst-quencher but its benefits are vast. For starters, water assists in controlling your appetite, decrease dehydration and hydrates your skin. Keep a bottle of water with you at all times, starting from the time you board the plane if you are flying. As the air is dry in the cabin, drink plenty of water every hour instead of taking advantage of the free coffee and alcohol. Next, if you are going to spend your holiday in the sun, drink lots of water to reduce sunstroke symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness, headache, muscle cramps and vomiting.

Meditate

Holidays equate overeating, overspending and overdoing things that you usually wouldn’t do. Thus, take a few minutes at the end of the day to meditate, de-stress and focus on what a holiday is actually about – to relax and rejuvenate instead of worrying if you have bought enough gifts for everyone back home, how the family event is going on, how many emails you would have when you return and so on.

Swap and substitute

It’s not easy forgoing your favourite food but what you can do is to create healthier versions of them. Replace your usual ingredients with healthier low-fat and low calorie alternatives. For instance, substitute a whole egg with a quarter cup of egg or two white eggs, sour cream with non fat yogurt, and butter with margarine. Replace butter, bacon, sour cream and cheese toppings with non-fat sour cream or low-fat yogurt instead. Caramelized onions are definitely tastier than roasted vegetables but if you are serious about making a change, you would have to make do with the former.

Ginger keeps the motion sickness away

If you are prone to being sea sick or even car sick, don’t have a heavy meal two hours before you set off. A full tummy only increases your nausea and the results won’t be pleasant as well if you throw up! You could carry some motion sickness pills with you but if you prefer something more natural and yummy, ginger biscuits are a good remedy for motion sickness. Also, avoid acidic foods such as salad, fruits and dairy products as these can cause stomach upsets.

Keep the bugs away

Mosquitoes are known disease carriers and bugs can cause swellings and bumps. If you are going for an outdoor holiday especially to places where tropical ailments are present, apply insect repellent to stop midges and mosquitoes from biting and infecting you on your holiday. You can either use a roll-on citronella repellent stick or wear around your wrist one of those bands which have been infused with citronella essence.

Party on a full stomach

Alcohol doesn’t go well with an empty stomach. As there is no food in the stomach, alcohol is broken down and absorbed faster into the bloodstream. The result: You are drunk faster than you know it. As such, eat something before you party. Healthy snack such as fat-free yogurt or fruits are good enough for lining the stomach and slowing down the alcohol absorption.

If it is a potluck party that you are attending, prepare a healthy yet delicious dish that everyone will enjoy. It is a myth that healthy dishes lack in taste. How does Sweet and Sour Chicken Wings, Creamy Chicken Pasta and Hash Brown Casserole sound? How healthy a dish is boils down to the ingredients used.

Load up on carbs

Taking the right food helps you to adjust to a new time zone especially if you have just emerged from a long 12-hour flight. Carbohydrate-rich food are proven to reduce jetlag by making you feel sleepy. Pasta and omelette are good choices of carbohydrate that you can dine on upon arrival at your destination until your body adjusts to the new time zone.

Everything must be done right, even going for a holiday. You don’t want to return from a vacation in a state worse than before you left. With the 12 tips above, you can now have a healthy holiday.

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