8 ways to stay healthy this holiday
Holidays are the one time we can really let go, but none of us want to come home to find that, as well as a pile of dirty washing, we’ve also brought back health issues. These simple tricks will help you relax and return in great shape.
1 Have an active itinerary
The idea might be to take it easy, but exercising can actually help you relax more – leading to better sleep, more energy and improved self-confidence. So, try planning active trips such as walking to that picture-perfect temple or switching your sedentary boat tour for hiring sea canoes.
2 Space your meals
Nutritionist Dr Claudia Gravaghi says around 80 per cent of her clients gain weight on holiday. This can be avoided if meals are spaced eight hours apart. ‘Intermittent fasting lowers levels of insulin to help you burn fat – then you can eat what you want. Lunch at 1pm and dinner at 9pm means each meal’s fully digested before the next.’
3 Snack smart
If an eight-hour gap seems too long, carry nuts with you. ‘These – particularly almonds – have a lot of protein, which is good for staving off hunger.’ Pick steamed veg or salads as sides and go for a small dessert – or share a bigger one! ‘Eating fresh means you can avoid some unsavoury practices which can lead to stomach upsets,’ says GP Dr Rupert Critchley. If you do get ill, Dr Gravaghi mentions drinking hot water with lemon and sticking to simple, mineral-rich foods like bananas.
4 Prepare your gut
The clever traveller can take steps to mitigate illness and weight gain – an average of 4.4lb in one survey – before the last bikini’s been bought. ‘The day you set off, or five days before if you’re sensitive to new foods, start taking a daily probiotic and continue while away to help stabilise your system,’ says Dr Gravaghi. ‘Even the water you use to brush your teeth will contain bacteria that can disrupt gut flora’.
5 Pack your fitness gear
Dr Critchley also advises taking your gym kit. ‘Many of us lose motivation to get back into our healthy routines for a week or so after a holiday, so it pays to be ready to use that empty hotel gym or great local running route.’
6 Have a hydration plan
‘The sun can dehydrate skin, and you lose water sweating,’ says Dr Critchley. This can be a problem for swimmers as the cooling effect of water can trick you into thinking you’re hydrated. ‘Alcohol makes things worse as it causes you to pee more often.’ The result can be headaches, dry skin, dizziness and sunstroke. ‘We should drink two litres of water a day, but it’s rare to hit that unless you carry water with you.’ Add soluble vitamin C and B-complex vitamins to your water bottle. ‘These combat dehydration and help counteract depressive symptoms,’ says Dr Gravaghi.
7 Protect your skin
Liberally apply factor 50 (Dr Critchley says most creams deliver about half the protection stated on the pack) 15 minutes before going outside; reapply everywhere at least every four hours, and after swimming and sweating. Choose a formula with UVA and UVB protection and remember – rays can penetrate glass and clouds. ‘The active ingredients in sunscreen can deteriorate over time, so buy new every year,’ says Dr Susan Mayou, consultant dermatologist at the Cadogan Clinic.
Read more: 7 tips for sunburn relief
8 Stay cool
Alternatively, cover up and seek out shade. If you burn, ‘Take a cold shower and apply a cold compress, such as a wet towel, to the affected area for immediate relief. Apply a moisturiser – aloe vera has soothing properties – and drink plenty of fluids. Seek medical advice if you experience a high temperature, dizziness, headaches, chills, skin blistering or swelling as these could indicate heat exhaustion.’ Finally, know that some medication makes you more sensitive to the sun; always check with your GP.
Now, all you have to do is find that passport and relax.
Dr Claudia Gravaghi is a nutritionist at Doctify
Dr Rupert Critchley is a GP and founder of Viva Skin Clinics.