Angela Dowden: How to reduce calories during the holiday season

How to reduce calories during the holiday season

It’s time to relax and enjoy a well-earned break. But we can often over indulge on holiday, so follow these tips to avoid returning home with excess baggage!

Boost your breakfast

Avoid full blown hotel fry-ups and opt for substantial portions of fresh fruit, yogurt and whole grain toast instead. Add some protein, such as lean ham or a couple of poached eggs, and you’ll curb hunger well into the day.

Top tip: Don’t forget to pack some Canderel tablets to sweeten cups of tea, and only have one glass of juice to save the calories mounting up.

Avoid dine-out disasters

For your main meal it’s better to go for two distinct courses than an endless stream of tapas or mezze dishes, where it’s much harder to keep tabs on how much you eat. Choose seasoned grilled meat or fish with vegetables – if you really can’t resist chips, why not order one bowl between two of you and share? Make sure to take advantage of the delicious herbs and spices when abroad. These add lots of flavour to dishes without adding calories.

Top tip: Learn the local words for butter and oil and ask for vegetables, fish, etc. without these added.

Beach Barbecues

They can be healthy if you go for lean steak, fish and prawn or chicken kebabs, instead of sausages, burgers and koftas. Skip creamy potato or pasta salads and fill your plate with undressed green salad instead. Go for ketchup instead of mayo or mustard sauces and stick to just a tablespoon portion of fried onion. Avoid the burger bun or only eat half.

Top tip: Fill your plate in one go at the beginning, rather than having several small top ups.

Watch those drinks and ice cream!

Sorbet and frozen yogurt are best, or have a scoop of Mr Whippy style ice cream, which is airier and lower calorie than indulgent chocolate coated types. An ice cream craving may mean you need a drink, so quench your thirst with water (or a diet drink) first, and drink plenty if it’s hot to keep yourself hydrated.

Top tip: When it comes to alcohol, stick to the ‘none before 6pm’ rule. And stay with spritzers before you eat to avoid a sharp rise in blood alcohol levels that will have your diet self control flying out the window!

What to eat (and avoid) on your holidays…


Eat: Grilled steak seasoned to taste, mussels or lobster with salad.

Avoid: Béarnaise, béchamel, hollandaise or beurre blanc sauces (all high in butter, oil or cream)

Spain and Portugal

Eat: Gazpacho, stuffed peppers, fish with salse verde sauce or chicken with rice.

Avoid: Ali-oli (garlic mayonnaise); chorizo or butifarra (fatty sausages)


Eat: Stuffed vine leaves, grilled fish with wild rigani (oregano) and boiled potatoes, lamb and pepper kebabs, tzatziki

Avoid: Moussaka and taramasalata; baklava.


Eat: Kebabs, rice, tomato salad, pitta bread.

Avoid: Imam bayildi (stuffed aubergine in olive oil), börek (filled pastries)