Jonny Holland is a former Munster rugby player. James Crombie
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'When I played for Munster, I brought bolognese on the plane instead of the processed food'

Jonny Holland offers his advice on how to maintain a balanced diet while also enjoying yourself on holiday this summer.

IT DOESN’T TAKE much for the best of healthy eating intentions to completely derail once your trip starts this summer, and for most of us the challenge is getting our attitude right when abroad.

For short-term or business trips, you have to decipher what your priorities are before you go — do you want to stay in shape or are you letting go?

If it’s the former and you are planning to stay on track, a bit of forward planning goes a long way to helping you achieve this.

I would always recommend booking a room with a fridge or kitchen when you’re away for a short period, as this will allow you to control meals during the day and ensure that you  don’t have to rely on convenience food.

Another good idea is to find the nearest supermarket to where you’re staying to stock up on snacks, including fruit and healthy options, which can be stored in your hotel room fridge and used throughout the day to maintain energy and reduce the possibility of bloating.

Regardless of whether your trip is for work or pleasure, always drink plenty of water when travelling as this will again help beat fatigue and that bloated feeling while in countries with a warmer climate.

In terms of activity when away on a short-term trip, you can always ask your employer to book a hotel with a gym as this will help you stay on track and prevent the feeling of lost progress when outside of your daily routine.

The big thing I hear from people heading away, whether it’s for work or pleasure, is that they “can’t” — they can’t make healthy eating choices because the options aren’t available, and they can’t maintain a routine because, well, they’re outside a comfort zone in airports or hotel rooms.

They’re all excuses because with the right attitude, if you really want to, you can and it’s about having your priorities right, making smart and sensible choices and taking control of the things you can control.

As for a summer holiday with family and friends.

Firstly, let me say that I will always tell my clients to enjoy their holiday. They have worked hard for the year and deserve the break, but the advice would always be to limit the damage and not completely lose your mind.

Everything comes back to mentality and ensuring that you aren’t heading off with the narrow-minded intention of undoing all your hard work just because you’re on holiday and that’s the common thing to do. You’ll almost always regret it.

When it comes to smart choices, the obvious example is at a buffet breakfast, when asking for poached eggs or porridge is a much better option than cereal or the fruit juices on offer, which have a high sugar and calorie content.

You can also ask for food to be grilled instead of fried in restaurants and remember to maintain your fruit and vegetable intake as you would at home by ordering side servings of salads, for example.

Jonathan Holland Billy Stickland / INPHO Billy Stickland / INPHO / INPHO

Of course, it’s important to enjoy yourself, that’s what holidays are for, but there’s no point in going over the top, feeling bloated and then not enjoying the second half of the break because your body isn’t used to what is being put in it.

When you are breaking out and forgetting about the calorie content of the crepes or dessert menu, make sure to slow down and enjoy it and don’t just eat it without appreciating it while you’re in the holiday autopilot.

Alcohol is another big thing for people going away, and an almost inevitable feature of any holiday, whether it’s a glass of wine with dinner, a few cocktails by the pool or a night out in the local town.

What I would say about is that there’s no real way around this, but much like when it comes to food choices, you can be smart in your approach by saving calories if you know you’re going to be drinking that day.

Light beers are an option, but not everyone’s cup of tea, while I’d always warn of the high sugar content of cocktails, which can very easily be consumed without really knowing how many calories you’re consuming.

One of the things I look to do on holidays to offset the food and drink that is being consumed is ensure I’m always on the move. I was in Amsterdam recently and we looked to walk as much as possible instead of getting a taxi and this affords you a bit more leeway with your calories.

When on holiday, the tendency is to binge on foods because they are there in front of us but that doesn’t always need to be the case — you don’t have to stop at every shop to have an ice-cream or waffle. Remember, everything should be consumed in moderation.

My final piece of advice surrounds travel, and this is relevant for anyone who is on the road a lot and finds it difficult to maintain a balanced, healthy diet when on the go.

It’s not easy, there’s no doubt about that. It is tough to bring food on a plane because that requires additional preparation on top of everything else you’re trying to get organised for your holiday or work trip. But it comes back to the fact that if you really want to, you can.

On long-haul flights, I don’t eat the food served even though it’s paid for as part of your fare, because as it is processed, it will leave you feeling bloated. Instead, I will bring some Biltong, a protein bar or something I made up before leaving the house, like a wrap or sandwich.

People forget you can actually bring food onto a plane — when I played for Munster, I brought bolognese to ensure I was getting real food in ahead of a match, and even brought a knife and fork, although I’m not quite sure how it got through airport security!

Protein bars aren’t always the best but they’re perfect for travel while zero-calorie drinks or milk are also a good idea for when you’re on the go, as is fruit.

Remember, it’s all about balance and you want to enjoy the whole experience because you’ve worked hard and earned the chance to relax and unwind.

You want to enjoy yourself, and not always be watching yourself so make smart choices and be sensible in your decision-making around food and drink.

If you have any questions relating to these products please leave your comments below or to sign up for a one to one consultation, email

You can follow Jonny’s journey over the next 12 weeks right here:


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