With the year-end holidays fast approaching, it is time to unwind, kick back, and take a pause from our daily activities. It is also an opportunity to visit unfamiliar places near and far. When we vacation, we want to not only take in new sights but enjoy new foods as well. Who doesn’t love trying local delicacies and taking a pause from our everyday diet? Going on vacation doesn’t mean you have to forego good nutrition. You can travel, eat healthily, explore novel areas, and still indulge in occasional treats by following these simple suggestions.
Holidays conjure up images of fruity drinks topped with little paper umbrellas. While many of these concoctions are tasty, they can also be loaded with calories from sugary syrups and juices. Avoid the temptation to overdo these sweet drinks by limiting their number you consume, and staying hydrated with water, plain tea or mineral water. Hydration is critical to replenish water expelled by sweating and helps prevent overheating.
To cool off, consider planning a trip to Cameron Highlands. In addition to its colder temperature and fresh mountain air, Cameron Highlands is also home to the largest tea plantation in the region, along with other attractions such as strawberry farms, flower gardens and various outdoor activities.
When you spend the day walking around the city or at an amusement park, you’re likely to encounter plenty of tempting snacks and street foods. But many snack foods are loaded with calories, so try to limit yourself to just a bite or two and share with your friends and family. You’ll be less tempted if you’re not too hungry, so before you head out for the day, have a protein-packed breakfast and carry some healthy snacks with you – such as protein bars, nuts or fruit.
Since local snacks are a great way to discover local culture, perhaps a trip to Ipoh might interest you, with its fresh local fruits and vegetables such as the famed Tambun Pomelo, along with other Ipoh delicacies.
Holidays often mean sitting by a lake, pool or ocean. While you should relax and spend time reading or gazing at the scenery, vacation does not mean you have to forego your regular exercise. Bring your workout sneakers or swimsuit so you can take advantage of the hotel gym or pool. Some resorts offer exercise group classes – from yoga to water aerobics — as a fun way to get your body moving. Track your daily steps and walk to the local sites if you can. Some local gyms allow you to join for a week or two, and many community centers offer workout sessions.
If you’re looking to work up a sweat while taking in the sites, consider visiting Bukit Bendera, Penang. You can burn some serious calories walking up and down the hiking trails of Penang Hill.
Go for the Greens
Rather than digging into bread and butter or fried appetizers, begin each meal with something green. Salads and vegetable dishes are a great way to fill up on healthy food before diving into other options. Try to make 50% of your meal veggies, which allows you to sample local delicacies while adhering to a “better-for-you” diet.
If you want to add more greens to your diet, try visiting Kota Bharu, Kelantan to enjoy its variety of kerabu salads made from different fruits and vegetables.
While the fantasy of travel has us imagining the comfiest bed in the world in a gorgeous hotel room, it might also mean camping on a leaky air mattress or sleeping in a room with paper-thin walls or too many family members.
Research has shown a correlation between lack of sleep and over-eating – when we get overly tired, we sometimes use food (and not always healthy food) in an attempt to boost energy levels. Travel, especially to different time zones, disrupts our standard sleep patterns. As much as possible, try to keep to your usual bedtime and try to wake up at your usual time, too.
Use an eye mask to darken your environment and ear plugs to reduce noise. And when you head to breakfast in the morning bleary-eyed, skip the sugary, refined carbs in the form of waffles and breakfast pastries. Instead, start hydrating with water, plain coffee or tea, and seek out healthy proteins such as eggs or yogurt.
If you’re seeking a break from the hustle and bustle of your hometown, perhaps a refreshing nature getaway might help, with many local waterfalls within driving distance.
Holidays are for exploring new places with family and friends. Getting away from rigid schedules doesn’t mean that your healthy diet has to take a vacation, too. Good nutrition is about balance and moderation, so go ahead and enjoy your favourite local dishes – and then work off those extra calories with some exercise. Enjoy your vacation without abandoning your commitment to a healthy diet.
This article is written by Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD, CSOWM, FAND, Senior Director, Worldwide Nutrition Education and Training, Herbalife Nutrition.