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How can you maintain a healthy diet on holiday?

Holidays can ruin a diet. When you’re trying to unwind it can be a challenge to resist breakfast buffets, takeaway lunches and ice creams. Whilst staying in a new environment it can often be difficult as well to get access to fresh, healthy food. In this article the Association of Registered Canary Islands Dieticians (ADDECAN) will provide some tips for good health during a trip away from home.

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El verano es la época del descanso y la desconexión por excelencia. Es el momento de olvidarnos de las obligaciones diarias y relajarnos, pero parece que este relax también afecta a nuestros hábitos alimentarios. En muchas ocasiones descuidamos las pautas para llevar una dieta sana y equilibrada, y lo que tendrían que ser caprichos puntuales pueden convertirse en una tendencia en nuestra alimentación veraniega.
 

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Fruit and vegetables are essential for a healthy diet. Canary Islands. 2019. 

Natalia Hernández Rivas, president of the Association of Registered Canary Islands Dieticians, offers some pointers on maintaining a healthy diet on holiday. 

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How can changes in schedules and behaviour during the holidays affect our diet? 

When normally we would be able to delay the moment we eat until lunch or dinner, because our schedules are disrupted during the holidays we have a greater tendency to snack on foods with a higher caloric intake and a less healthy nutritional profile. 

It seems that lighter dishes are more popular during warmer weather than in winter. Salads and cold soups are often thought to be very helpful to control our weight. Is that so? Do you have to be especially careful with sauces and dressings so as not to add too many calories to an otherwise healthy meal? 

Vegetable-based dishes which are served cold are most popular during summer. These dishes are a good way to introduce ingredients such as legumes and nuts to our diet. Making a place for them in our kitchen will help us manage a healthy and balanced diet and keep us in shape. It is true that, in many cases, we use ready-made sauces in salads which contain a large amount of saturated fat and calories, so these dishes become less healthy than we might think. To avoid this issue, we can prepare our own salad dressings with olive oil or yogurt. 

Sugary drinks, tinto de verano (wine and lemonade), beers ... Are these the temptations that increase our weight the most? 

This is the biggest problem during the summer. The consumption of soft drinks or alcoholic beverages affects our weight and our health. Therefore, for a healthier lifestyle, it is very important to learn to control ourselves and limit our intake of these items. 

“Vegetable-based dishes served cold are most popular during summer. These dishes are a good way to introduce ingredients such as legumes and nuts into our diet. Making a place for them in our kitchen will help us manage a healthy and balanced diet and keep us in shape.” 

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What healthy ways are there to stay hydrated? 

An option is to prepare homemade drinks flavoured with cinnamon, apple, red berries or ginger. With these drinks we can stay hydrated and healthy at the same time. 

In general, holidays tend to involve evening meals with family and friends that continue until late at night. Do we have to be especially careful with what we eat at dinner? 

We have to be careful about what we eat but also when we eat. We can’t forget that our worst enemy is alcohol. The most important thing about the evening meal is that not too much food is consumed. We shouldn’t avoid any specific foods, but it’s important to monitor the amount eaten. As the saying goes: eat breakfast like a king, eat lunch like a prince and supper like a beggar. Also, in terms of the evening meal, it’s important not to eat too late. The later we eat, the easier it is for our body to store the food rather than use it.  

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Is it a good idea to substitute dinner for a bowl of fruit, such as watermelon? 

I’ve never liked this way of eating. If we are hungry, our bodies can react to compensate. And in the following meal our sense of a shortage will cause us to stock up on lost nutrients. If we are looking to have a light evening meal, it is better to go for dishes like gazpacho or salad. 

“As the saying goes: eat breakfast like a king, eat lunch like a prince and supper like a beggar. Also, in terms of the evening meal, it’s important not to eat too late. The later we eat, the easier it is for our body to store the food rather than use it.” 

In general, ice creams have a reputation for being unhealthy. Is this deserved? How can we turn an ice cream into a healthy snack or dessert? 

This reputation is deserved because one of the main ingredients of ice cream is sugar. The best way to eat ice cream is to make them ourselves with fruit, milk and yoghurt. In this way we can enjoy a bit of temptation without affecting our diet too much.  

If we go out to eat at a Canarian restaurant, what dishes are the best to maintain a healthy diet? 

If we want to enjoy a healthy and tasty meal, any of these dishes would be good choices: ropa vieja de pulpo, sancocho de cherne, pella de gofio or vieja al horno (ask for it not to be fried). 

There are some studies that suggest that during the Christmas holidays, Spaniards can gain about three kilos. What do you think? 

Obviously a few kilos are added during the holidays. In general, going out with friends or family for lunch or an evening meal means that we eat more food; we have a beer or a glass of wine when we wouldn’t normally; and we have desserts. These things don’t help us maintain our weight.