Weighing In on Gaining Weight Abroad

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Weight gain is one of the most common fears among collegiettes™ looking to indulge in foreign fare while simultaneously hoping to stay slender. Maybe you’re aiming to look sexy in one of those skimpy swimsuits while lying on the sun-drenched beaches of Saint Tropez. Or, perhaps, you have an itty-bitty mini dress you’ve been banking on wearing for a night of raging in Rome with dreams of finding your Casanova. Either way, undeniably so, many of us want to look our finest and fittest while globetrotting and, ladies, this is your guide to doing so.

To begin with, let’s address the issue of WHY we as Americans happen to gain weight while exploring foreign lands. Well, part of the allure of journeying to a previously undiscovered place is trying the local delicacies. For instance, when I imagine myself in Paris, I automatically begin to fantasize of how I would leisurely spend my day, living like a local, by beginning my morning at a boulangerie, a café crème in hand, noshing on a pain au chocolat. Before long, after wandering through the Louvre, or maybe perusing through vintage clothing shops in the Marais, I would sit on the Pont Des Arts and watch the sunset while my best friend and I would split a bottle of wine, a reel of camembert, and an entire baguette (no joke).

Needless to say, I inevitably gained weight abroad. Not regrettably, I indulged and enjoyed every crispy, buttery croissant crumb that fell on my tongue, every last droplet of Cabernet Sauvignon, and every slice of fromage that melted in my mouth.  Now, as I sit here, back for almost four months, continuously trying to fight off the weight I put on while traveling, my only regret is that I did not even consider the possibility that I could have enjoyed my epicurean escapades while still mitigating the destruction caused by these delicious French delicacies.

So, on that note, I am here to bestow my wisdom upon future travelistas looking forward to noshing on churros and chocolate in Spain, devouring gyros in Greece, and so on. This knowledge should help alleviate any uneasiness you collegiettes may have when it comes to increasing waistlines while traveling the globe.

1) Moderation is key. Time and time again, we have heard that when it comes to weight-gain/loss, moderation is a major factor.

Every country has its own respective ideologies regarding the preparation of food, ingredients, and ways in which food should be enjoyed as each of these elements is reflective of a culture’s history, geographical location, and local produce. This is why it is imperative to a travelista’s cultural immersion to luxuriate in local, authentic foods. Yes, you want to indulge because, quiet often, you will rarely, and maybe never, have another opportunity to thoroughly enjoy a foreign specialty that you come across on some of these exotic menus. Keep in mind that “indulge” is NOT synonymous with “gorge”, so do not be a glutton!

Tips on how to do this?

Order a meal and only eat half so you get the full effect with half of the calories.

Enjoy your food with some new found friends and talk a lot during the meal to space out the time between bites. Unlike in the United States, where mealtime is considered a spare moment meant for re-energizing purposes, in Europe, eating is an event, a time for repose, to catch up with friends, to decompress and just enjoy the moment. So, talk about everything from travel, to family, to fashion, to art, to boy problems, etc., because this is the perfect opportunity to get everything off your chest and keep unwanted calories on the plate. By chatting up a storm, you are not only bonding verbally with you meal mate, but you are also allowing for signals from your stomach to reach your brain and release a chemical called Leptin that, in layman’s terms, essentially tells your body that you are full and to stop munching before you enter a caloric coma.

A third option is to split a plate, potentially with a foreign lover, this way you get half the calories but double the satisfaction.

2) Get Active

Walking everywhere is a fabulous way to ease your weight-gaining woes. The best way to truly get to know a city is to get lost in it, or at least take the time to wander around in it. By taking cabs everywhere, you do not have the opportunity to stumble into random trinket shops, admire the local scenery, or take the time to watch a street performer the way you would while walking through town. Additionally, walking a mile burns about 100 calories for an average-sized person and, because you will be so distracted by all the beauty you come across, you won’t even notice you’re simultaneously working off breakfast (or last nights “drunchies”, a.k.a. drunk munchies).

Believe it or not, going out is another awesome opportunity to burn calories! How could this be? Well, this happens to be my favorite way because I love to socialize and dance my heart out. Dancing in clubs and bars offers a great workout if you are willing to really let loose and break it down on the dance floor. In fact, when I was 16, I studied in the south of France and, although I ate croissants for breakfast each day and drank considerably, because of walking and dancing all night long, I actually lost 8 pounds in a matter of three weeks.

3) Order Wisely

Lastly, while ordering, keep in mind how long your stay is, remember that you don’t have to order absolutely everything on the menu all at once. If you happen to be staying somewhere for three days, eat one new food per day. Also, balance out your meals. If you have a croissant for breakfast, have chevre salad for lunch (especially since vegetables in Europe tend to be fresh, delicious, and GMO free), and split a thin crust pizza with a side salad or soup for dinner so you have a good balance of carbs and fiber to keep you satisfied throughout the night, rendering late-night snacking unnecessary.

So there you go! Now, PLEASE do not let this deter you from gratifying your gastronomical curiosities. Just be mindful that there are ways to have your cake (or croissant, cheese, macaroons, etc.) and eat it too…while still staying satisfied, healthy, and happy.

Edited by: Amy Coyle

 

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