By Kristian Gray
This summer is one like no other due to the Covid-19 outbreak. Tourism is at an all-time low, and although it is sad to see the industry struggling many local residents are able to get away for a few nights on the island.
Now, as great as lounging around a pool all day and having your food cooked for you sounds, for some this brings an enormous amount of stress. Having every nutritional decision already made is a double-edged sword. You see, on the one hand, you don’t have to cook and you can just enjoy the food as it has been prepared for you, but on the other there is an enormous amount of temptation and it is difficult to know when to stop putting food on your plate.
There is so much food and drink available 24-hours a day it feels like you will never experience hunger again, and in truth, you forget its meaning while in the eat-swim-eat-swim-eat-sleep and repeat bubble.
For many enjoying an all inclusive deal this is ideal because not only have you already paid for your food and drink for the week, but the only thing you need to consider during the course of the day is what time breakfast, lunch and dinner will be, plus, when to fit in a morning, afternoon and evening snack.
I enjoy food but my main problem with this type of holiday is that when it comes to making healthy and sensible nutritional choices it is as much a mental game as deciding which foods are good and which are bad.
When throughout the course of the day the only decisions you need to make are what time you are going to eat, it is easy to fixate on that subject, and when faced with an all-you-can-eat buffet three times a day, the chances are you will have focused so much on this moment that all reason goes out of the window.
It happens; you pile your plate so high that you can’t see the swimming pool behind your mountain of pasta, spare ribs, curry, carvery and three types of dessert – yep, all at the same time. Making good food choices is a psychological battle.
When you stand in front of that buffet table you have to take a step back and ask yourself, ‘do I actually want the amount of food I have put on my plate?’
Invariably, the answer will always be no, because nobody ‘needs’ that much food but it’s there; you have already paid for it, and you have been at the pool for five hours, so you are going to eat it, enjoy it and ‘go on a diet when I get home’.
Of course, I am looking at extreme examples here but I wanted to highlight the fragile relationship most of us have with food.
It is a struggle that everyone faces when confronted with buffet food.
“When we are in a controlled environment, making healthy choices is so much easier because you get to decide what foods are available to eat. You do the shopping and you decide what is going to be in your fridge when it’s time for breakfast, lunch and dinner,” said founder of Keto and Organic Cyprus Nicolas Tzenios.
“At the buffet there is simply too much choice. Multiple types of pasta dishes, fried foods and pizzas, not to the mention mountains of desserts drowning in sugar.”
But with so much on offer how does one not overindulge?
“It’s all about choosing the most satiating foods at breakfast and going from there,” he said. “Foods high in good fats and protein – eggs are a great example – will keep you feeling full for longer and as nice as those croissants may look and taste, they will have you looking for more food within a couple of hours after they have stopped serving breakfast.
“If you make sensible choices and put plenty of salad and roasted vegetables on your plate at first, not only will it leave less room on for all of the unhealthy foods, once you eat it, you will be too full to overindulge. Of course, you are on holiday and you will want to treat yourself to some foods you wouldn’t normally buy at home, but in terms of weight gain and feeling bloated for the duration of your stay, that should not be a problem if you practice moderation.”
So, if you are getting away this summer, it is highly likely you will be faced with this dilemma and when you do experience that moment and are stood in front of a huge buffet, simply pause and ask yourself the question, do I really need all of this food?
I suspect you already know the answer.