I have just returned from holiday and I feel like a cross between a stuffed Christmas turkey and a whale who ate all the pies. It’s so bad I had to mix my metaphors.
This is a common problem when we go on holiday, as the thrill of newly discovered restaurants and food experiences far outweighs the increasingly faint little voice in our heads telling us to be sensible with what we eat. I’m as guilty of it as anyone, but with my digestion issues and intolerances all but ignored for 10 days, I venture that I also suffer more than the average person when it’s all over and the fat lady has sung (ha! the irony of that idiom).
I have indulged far beyond what is considered sensible, even with the expected relaxed attitude of being holiday. This is partly due to the fact that we stayed in several foodie places that are known for their gourmet menu and little else, so what can one do but jump on the mouth-watering bandwagon and get indiscriminately munching – what food intolerance? I am paying dearly for my sins with near digestion failure and bloating, but luckily this is not my first rodeo so I have a plan in place to reverse the damage.
Here’s how to get back to health after a holiday spent basking in Roman-like excess.
1. Don’t panic
Yes your favourite jeans barely fit and the scale shows a couple of extra kilos. However, you don’t ‘get fat’ in 10 – 14 days, you’d have to eat an unchartable amount for that. Your body is merely overwhelmed with an unexpected influx of most likely rich and heavy food and it is trying to adjust. This takes a bit of time.
2. Don’t starve yourself
Going on a crash diet of lettuce leaves and legumes will not help. Your body will simply go into starvation mode and hang onto every calorie that you consume, slowing down your metabolism and making it difficult to shed excess weight.
3. Cut out sugar and some carbs
As your body redresses its off-kilter balance, you can help it by cutting out certain foods that only serve to worsen its condition. Sugar causes spikes in your blood sugar levels which in turn causes cravings, making you think you’re hungry when you’re not. Cutting it out keeps your body on an even keel and allows you to better stick to healthy choices. If you eat a lot of carbs, decrease these as well in favour of healthy fats that keep you feeling fuller and your sugar levels stable.
4. Keep coffee drinking to a minimum
Caffeine increases cortisol, the stress hormone found in our blood. Cortisol inhibits weight loss, so reducing your coffee intake to one cup daily will help your body to equalise.
5. Get moving
You probably didn’t do much exercise, if any, while on holiday, which is ok as your body needs to relax as much as your brain does. But now that you’re back, don’t let the perfectly acceptable laziness of your trip bleed over into your normal routine. Get back to exercising as soon as possible, but be gentle with yourself. After taking a gluttonous battering, your body won’t be in optimum shape to do back to back spin classes with Mental Marvin. Ease yourself back into it and listen to your body’s signals.
6. Play nice
You’ll be tempted to beat yourself up for not sticking to healthy choices – don’t. It’s ok to relax occasionally, and the odd overindulgence won’t have long term effects either on your health or your weight, as long as you get back into the swing of your routine. Remember that health starts with our minds, and if you choose to love your body than you’ll treat it kindly and with respect, making it so much easier to be healthy. If you’re finding it hard, stand in front of a mirror and count down from your head to your toes, saying out loud why you love each piece. Go on, do it! It sounds a little ridiculous, but sometimes we just need to hear positive affirmation to help us feel good about ourselves.
Happy recovering and remember that overindulgent holidays are not only ok, they are excellent for well-rounded, truly balanced health.