Firstly, what you are about to read is not about how to achieve the “perfect beach body” (your body is already perfect), it’s about how to nourish your body and mind so that you can have the best time through the summer and on your holiday, in your body.
Eat more vegetables than you think you need to
Of course this is always important, but it’s something that can easily be forgotten on holiday. If you're abroad, it's a perfect opportunity to try local fruits and vegetables you’ve never had before, or add a few veggie sides to your order (if they’re fermented, even better!). Carbs are not the enemy, however eating excessive amounts, which lets face it can happen on holiday, may leave you feeling bloated, uncomfortable and lethargic if they are not balanced with good quality fats, proteins and lots of greens. Depending on where you’re going, it may be best to avoid raw salads which may be washed in tap water, so you might want to stick to cooked vegetables. If you are unsure, just ask.
Look after your gut pre, during and post holiday
Holidays can challenge our guts for many reasons. Generally we are out of routine in terms of what we’re eating (and drinking), and how we’re moving our bodies. We’re also exposed to different bacteria, and more of it, as we are spending time in different environments and in areas with higher concentrations of people (airports, nightclubs, densely populated beaches etc). This can present challenges to our gut in terms of digestion as well as immune function. Remember, around 70% of our immune system is made in the gut, which means the better are guts are working, the more we are able to defend ourselves against opportunistic bugs. Check out my article on how to support gut
health here. Consider taking a good quality probiotic in the run-up to your holiday and of course, load up on beautiful sauerkraut and kimchi. (If you’re planning a staycation in the UK and have access to a fridge, you can even taken a stash of jars with you!). Always speak with a qualified health practitioner regarding supplements and your individual needs.
Drink at least 2-2.5 litres of water per day
In fact. you will probably need more than this if you’re in a hot country and if you’re exercising. There’s not an organ or process in the body that doesn’t benefit from adequate hydration and the positive effects can be felt almost immediately - increased energy, clearer thinking, less anxiety and clearer, brighter skin - exactly what we all want on holiday! Remember to check whether or not the tap water is suitable for drinking in the country you are visiting.
Regular exercise has countless benefits for both physical and mental health. Don’t feel like you need to spend hours a day in the gym on holiday, but try and incorporate some kind of daily movement, whether it’s a walk on the beach or though the jungle, a local exercise class, a morning run or swim. Make it fun and take things outside if possible to make the most of the beautiful weather and healing effects of nature (exercising in nature has been found to amplify the positive effects of exercise!).
Enjoy the sun, safely
When your skin is exposed to sunlight, it makes vitamin D, which has many health benefits. It is involved in strengthening the immune system, reducing chronic disease risk, improved mood, weight management, healthy bones, teeth, muscles and improved cardiovascular (heart and circulatory) function. There are also benefits for gut health, with research linking adequate vitamin D levels to reduced inflammation in the gut, improved intestinal barrier integrity (regulation of what passes in and out of the gut) and greater microbiota diversity. It goes without saying to ensure you are practicing safe sun exposure and to stick to natural mineral sunscreens (find a great guide to mineral sunscreens here).
Make decisions from a place of love
When you approach decisions about health from a place of love (rather than fear of not being enough), it becomes difficult to do anything other than make choices that support your best self, whatever that looks like to you. Instead of looking in the mirror and focusing the parts of yourself that you wish you could
change, try and think “Wow, this body literally allows me to experience this world and this life, and this holiday”. It’s not about being 100% perfect 100% of the time, but establishing a good baseline of healthy habits, a strong foundation to come back to, even if you stray a little. Remember it’s not healthy if it’s not balanced, and the more you make decisions from a place of love, the easier it becomes to find your own unique and beautiful version of balance.
Hannah is a holistic nutritionist (BSc) with a special interest in brain health, cognitive function and the scope of nutrition in improving mental health and reducing cognitive decline. Follow Hannah on Instagram for delicious recipes and health tips: https://www.instagram.com/kinderkitchen.co/