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Excess Baggage: eating habits on holiday

If you've been following this Slim Thinking Blog for a while you'll know that managing your weight is (very) broadly about how you see yourself, the things you value, your beliefs and self-talk. So assuming you've got those in a good place you should be well on track. So here's a question: 

Why would going on holiday change any of those things above? 

  • Do your energy needs change on holiday? 
  • Do the reasons you want to lose weight change? 
  • Does your goal change? 

These things should all remain constant. However, research by Florapro activ and Obesimed shows that: 

  • Some 42% of Britons diet before a holiday 
  • The average Brit gains 8lb on a two-week holiday. 
  • On average it takes a month to lose that 8lbs 
  • Almost 80% of us ditch the diet as soon as we go on holiday 


So what's happening? 

At the beginning of this blog I mentioned identity, values, emotional needs and so on. If you've reflected on these and have them all lined up towards your goal then they shouldn't change much on holiday. Sure, a change in environment causes us to alter our behaviour a bit but for 'slim people' this is likely to be a slight shift. For others, it provokes a complete change in behaviour to the point where they're almost a different person on holiday. 

Do your eating habits change on holiday? 

Here are some questions which can help you understand why.

Think about the roles you play in your life.  

  • Partner, friend, lover, parent, manager, explorer,organiser, volunteer, life and soul of the party......... ?
  • How do those roles shift on holiday? 
  • Are there any that take a back seat? 
  • Are there any that take centre stage? 

-Let's say you are a parent. It's an all-consuming role. Does a holiday give you a chance to let your children play in the kids club and allow you to party like a 20-year-old again?  

-Maybe you have a partner. Does a holiday allow the two of you to go on lots of little dates? Does this mean going for dinner or a drink more often than usual? 

-Are you a manager or a natural organiser? Does a holiday mean freedom to just focus on what you want to do? Does focusing on what you want to do mean food?  

How do your values shift? 

How do you values play out differently on holiday? 

  • Does relaxation become more important? 
  • What about fun? Do you make more time for fun? 
  • Variety? Does trying new things become more significant?  
  • Do you spend more time being outdoors? 
  • Is holiday time family time more than usual?

What does a holiday mean to you? 

What motivates you about a holiday? What gets you really excited about it? 

  • If I was to ask you in describe what holiday means to you in one word. What would you say? (freedom, control, rebellion, me time etc etc) 
  • What does that food and drink have to do with that word? 

Tip: If you said 'food' in answer to the first question, think again. You have food and drink at home so that's not the answer. 

Do you come home with excess baggage?

Do you come home with excess baggage?

What is it all about? 

Of course, it's great to go on holiday and relax or do something different. It's perfectly natural to behave a bit differently on a holiday, it's one of the things we love about them. However, if you have a huge shift in behaviour on holiday such as eating, drinking or partying much more than normal, ask yourself this: 

  • What does a holiday give you that you don't get (or get enough of) at home? 
  • What feeling do you get when you indulge in food and drink on holiday? 
  • What is that telling you about what you need?  
  • Do you grasp at these things for dear life because you know when you go home it's back to normal again? 

A holiday often gives us things we lack back at home. Sometimes, that’s absolutely fine. It wouldn't be practical or even desirable to do the things we do on holiday on a daily basis back at home. However, more drastic or exaggerated changes in behaviour such as eating and drinking to excess might mean there's some need not being met. Consider this:

  • Can you make more time for these needs at home?  
  • Can you make time for more dates with your partner? 
  • Can you find an extra hour each week to be more than a parent, manager or carer? 
  • Can you let go of some responsibilities?  
  • What takes up your time right now that isn't giving you what you need? 

Address these things and your holiday becomes more about enjoying the scenery, the people, the experiences rather than food and the best bit is you don't have to have a mad panic about losing the weight back at home. 


Over to you

  • What does holiday mean to you? 
  • What role does food and drink play for you? 
  • How much does your behaviour change? 

Leave your comments below.

In next week's blog we'll look at the mindset/thinking that is helpful in holiday combined with some practical tips. In the mean time, if you want to find out how good your weight management mindset is, try my self-assessment quiz and guide here

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