Sarah Loughlin talks to Joanne Reid Rodrigues, nutritionist and author of Slim, Happy Free about how to eat healthily while enjoying yourself on holiday.
Hotel breakfasts will be the death of me. I am a sucker for a buffet. I promise myself I will just have a bit of toast, but before I know it I am tucking in to three different types of eggs and a mound of bacon. This wouldn’t be a problem if hotel breakfasts were a rare occasion, or a special treat, but when you have one everyday of your two-week holiday you can quickly start piling on the pounds.
Jersey’s own Joanne Reid Rodrigues from Slimming Together has been teaching islanders how to live a healthy lifestyle while still enjoying themselves for 30 years; I caught up with her to see how she copes with travel.
SL: What do you think is the most common downfall for frequent travellers when it comes to eating healthily?
JRR:Some folks panic a little bit when they are out of their own kitchen; but in reality, nothing finds its way into our stomach unless we put it there! On short trips in particular, there are various ways to keep choices health-oriented. However, if the trips are pleasure-oriented, we might feel more relaxed and have an alcoholic drink at the airport to get the holiday started; if our mindset is focused on having fun or relaxation, our food choices might reflect this. I would say our mindset is both our greatest strength and downfall, depending on how we approach situations.
SL: If like me people have eyes bigger than their stomachs, what is the best tactic to tackle a hotel buffet situation?
JRR: Ask yourself how you want to feel after your meal or in the morning. Being mindful that too much food can cause us to feel bloated and tired can help us make balanced choices. I love buffets, but I usually take a look at all the appealing foods and remind myself that it’s not all for me! Eating is a pleasure, but if we overdo it we might diminish our enjoyment of our day or evening ahead. Everything in balance.
SL: How can eating healthily benefit you while away?
JRR: We benefit from eating healthily in numerous ways – most typically, our mood and energy levels are affected by our dietary choices. It’s important to avoid any foods we have an intolerance of, since many folks feel sluggish and tired if they eat foods their body has an immune reaction to. Our dietary choices affect our cognitive state, our feelings, and even our behaviour. Making healthful choices helps us have clear thinking and sharper concentration.
SL: Airport delays are one of my down falls, what are the best choices at the airport?
JRR: Many airports are now catering for health-oriented travellers and I would often choose vegetable soup or a baked potato with salad. I’ve even been able to find porridge at many airports. On long flights, I’d recommend avoiding wheat-based foods like bread and pasta since wheat encourages fluid retention, which can be more of a problem during a long flight. Nuts such as almonds and walnuts are excellent and a piece or two of fruit – these make good snacks.
SL: I am the worst for trying to eat my way through jetlag, if you get the post flight munchies what are the best types of food to go for?
JRR: When we feel extremely tired we might have strong coffee to give us a kick and perhaps some chocolate or sugary pastries for that little sugar rush. But it’s the worst thing really, because caffeine and sugar actually deplete our energy and the more we have, the more exhausted we feel. The body needs sleep, and a good natural sleep aid is tart cherry juice which is a natural source of the hormone melatonin and also contains the amino acid tryptophan. Drinking half a glass before bed typically aids sleep and mood. As at all times, the best food choices include plenty vegetables and vegetable juices, fruits and other unprocessed complex carbohydrates, nuts, seeds, and lean proteins such as fish including salmon and mackerel and white meat.
SL: Another potential downfall of holiday eating is the pre-dinner drinks, have you got any advice to avoid over indulging on the canapés and aperitifs?
JRR: It’s not what we do upon occasion that creates weight gain – it’s what we do on a regular basis. If you go on trips occasionally, having an aperitif and canapés typically isn’t a problem. But if you go often, and if you’re concerned about your weight or aspects of your health, I would simply make a decision to drink San Pellegrino – a clear head helps us maintain control over how much we eat. To avoid feeling ravenous which of course naturally leads to us eating lots at a party or gathering, we can even have a small healthy meal before going to the event – a couple of oat cakes lightly spread with mashed avocado or even a small bowl of porridge takes the edge off our appetite and helps us maintain control.
To see more from Joanne and get a copy of her book visit her website www.slimmingtogether.com.