Everyone needs a holiday every now and then. It’s common to go on a fad diet to lose weight before a vacation – particularly if your holiday involves a bikini! But many people find that they actually lose weight while they’re on holiday. This often happens even if they’re doing NOTHING to restrict their food choices.
So what’s the secret? Why do you lose weight over the holidays, despite enjoying all the food you want? Here are a few reasons.
You tune into your true hunger
On a holiday, you’re usually focused on what you’re doing. You’re choosing foods that appeal, and you’re taking your time. This is what’s often known as mindfulness and mindful eating.
But when you’re at home, it’s often the opposite. You choose foods you think should be good for you, and you scoff them down. A few hours later, you’re starving again, and you reach for the nearest snack. Sometimes, you don’t even notice what you’re eating because you’re doing three other things at the same time.
When we take time to be mindful around why we’re hungry, we’re more likely to eat only when we need to. It’s also easier to eat just enough to satisfy, instead of stuffing ourselves until we feel sick. When you’re on holiday, you’re more in tune with your body’s cue for hunger.
You reduce your stress levels
Stress is a massive trigger for emotional and stress eating behaviours. When you’re at home, you’re more likely to be multitasking and getting buried under your mountain of to-dos. The unconscious mind will do anything to distract you from pain and move you towards something pleasurable. And often, that something pleasurable is food.
But on holiday, you’re away from work and other obligations. Even if you have your kids with you, the atmosphere is more relaxed. You don’t need to escape reality with a giant cookie or bowl of ice-cream.
You sleep properly
When was the last time you got a really good sleep? Even I am guilty of letting good sleep slide every now and then! But good sleep is critical if you want to minimise things like food cravings and even insulin resistance.
Holidays support good sleep in a number of ways. Firstly, you’re less likely to wake up to an alarm going off, and more likely to wake naturally. Lower stress levels can also lead to better sleep. And sometimes, a change of air – particularly if you’re close to nature – can help you sleep better.
You stop restricting yourself
Here we find the root of why you can’t just give up sugar or reduce your calories forever. It’s too restrictive for your brain!
When you’re at home, you’re probably focusing on all of the things you can’t have or shouldn’t have. If you tell yourself, ‘I can’t have sugar/dairy/gluten/chocolate’ or whatever your restriction of choice is, all your brain focuses on is that one thing you can’t have! In the end, your brain wins out, and you go crazy over foods you ‘shouldn’t’ have.
But as soon as you go on holiday, the restrictive mindset is gone. Instead of focusing on what you can’t have, you focus on what you can have.
Remember – food is not your enemy! Food is delicious and meant to be enjoyed. But if you use food as a source of comfort, that’s where problems can arise.
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