A restaurant table overlooking a harbour in france

Holiday nutrition: top tips for eating abroad

Tempting though it may be, holiday food can be high in calories, and before you know it those extra pounds have piled on. But the good news is there are ways to enjoy your well-earned break without compromising your health and wellbeing.

Clinical nutritionist Suzie Sawyer visits her three favourite countries and shares her top holiday nutrition tips.

When in Spain…

Spanish local fare is ever tempting. Tapas is one of the main foodie highlights of Spain, but so enticing are these small dishes that it’s all too easy to over order. Try to limit yourself to six if you can. When it comes to holiday nutrition, dishes including gazpacho, stuffed peppers, mussels, scallops, beef strips and fish stew are all great choices. But try not to overdo the traditional aioli (garlic mayonnaise) and bread, deep fried fish such as whitebait and patatas bravas (fried potatoes with rich sauce). They won’t do your waistline any favours.

Spain also has its fair share of traditional English eateries serving high-calorie ‘comfort’ food, but the secret is to give them a miss. The predominance of beautiful coastal resorts means there’s always plenty of freshly caught delicious fish on the menu which combined with a low-calorie mixed salad make for the perfect healthy, balanced meal.

When in Italy…

We only need to take a look at those beautiful, svelte Italian ladies to know that pasta doesn’t need to be fattening. The secret is to keep an eye on portion sizes and avoid creamy sauces.

Take your pick from spaghetti, fettucine, tagliatelle or any other variety. For the ultimate holiday nutrition top with vegetable or tomato-based sauces (pomodoro) and vary with garlic, onions, spinach and spring vegetables. Avoid pesto, carbonara sauces or any others that are cream-laden.

Italy also serves up a wealth of healthy ‘mains’ or Secondo dishes including fresh fish, veal and chicken cooked in delicious ways with plenty of vegetables. Finally, watch out for those pizzas. They are best avoided except perhaps as a last-night treat!

When in France…

Just like the Italians, the French love their food but are generally not overweight. They also have a passion for garlic, which adds great flavour but is also super-healthy for the heart and immunity.

Traditional French fare includes snails, mussels, local fish, scallops and vegetable (generally onion) or fish soup. The French are generally not big on vegetables in restaurants, preferring to eat salads either at the beginning of the meal or as a side dish. However, if you do see vegetables on the menu, they’re often served with cheese, which is high in fat. The biggest watch point in France are the croissants! They generally weigh it at around 250 calories each with a whopping 16 grams of fat and that’s before you load them with jam and butter.

However, as we know, part of the French paradox is down to their love of red wine. Enjoy in moderation and you’ll be coming back from your hols feeling super-healthy and refreshed.


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