Five days into my family holiday in Cala D'Or, Majorca and I'm sitting here feeling somewhat "puddingy"; tired, lethargic, bloated - basically like a beached whale. The weather has not been great today, very windy so sitting by the pool is a dangerous pastime as a lilo blows out of the pool and slaps you round the face. DS is in kids clubs and DD is sleeping like an angel so I'm in the hotel room writing this, eating cake and drinking hot chocolate (it's not that cold but it's there and it's on tap so why not?) So why the beached whale status? The answer....the all-inclusive buffet. All I have done for five days is eat, eat, eat, eat, EAT!! Before I came out here I made the mistake of reading some reviews about the hotel and its catering; "not much choice", "food cold and sometimes still frozen", "tasteless and dull", and so on. "Great" I thought, "eating healthy and not too much is going to be a piece of cake" (excuse the pun). But instead it goes something like this...
8am Breakfast starts ok, a healthy bowl of muesli and a very drinkable black coffee. I don't really like fry ups so the fried food and chicken nuggets (for breakfast?) are easy to avoid. Plenty of fresh fruit; pineapple, grapefruit, plums, oranges. But then I discover the pastries. I'm not usually a big fan but they are all freshly baked in-house; pain au chocolat, croissants, apricot slices, chocolate muffins, which also means another cup of coffee is required.
10.30am Snacks are served, to which I have not (yet) succumbed. Toast and fruit are readily available if you didn't happen to eat enough for breakfast!
12.30pm Lunchtime is always a bit of a mish-mash. A bit of this, a bit of that and a bit of leftovers. Always pasta, a vast array of salads, chips and fresh bread. I had promised myself that I would avoid the bread and I managed to keep that promise for one day. Then I discovered that the baguettes were also freshly baked, fluffly white centres and just-the-right-amount-of-crispyness-crusts, unfortunately one could not resist. This is always followed by a vast array of desserts; mousses, ice cream, fresh fruit, flans....and all washed down with a nice cold beer.
2.00pm Cake is served, just in case you are feeling peckish after all those laps of lying on your sunbed. Today was the first day we did this as we were feeling a little cold after getting out of the pool in all that wind, along with a hot chocolate, which of course is free-flowing.
5.00pm Now I don't get this snack time at all. At this time of day I'm starting to think about my dinner, not getting "snacks" like burger and chips or toasted sandwiches!!! But they are there if you want them. And don't let me forget to tell you about the popcorn machine, which makes you freshly popped sweet or salty popcorn for just €2.
7.00pm Dinner time, which usually follows a theme; Asian, Mexican, English, Italian, Spanish, to name but a few. Canapés, soup of the day, burritos, fajitas, roast beef, paella, lasagne, stuffed aubergines, salads with all seasonal produce - watercress, beetroot, rocket, spinach - more bread, curried vegetables, fish in garlic butter, all with chips, pasta, potatoes, rice. There is always more than one thing I want to try so my "one plate rule" goes out the window!! And don't forget about those desserts again and the freezer full of ice cream, with sauce and sprinkles on the side if you so wish.
8.30pm "More food!" I hear you say. Well yes actually. Bread, cheese, ham and fruit are all there to accompany your Sangria or piña coladas, which are also endlessly on tap.
Hence, beached whale...
I am pretty sure I am not the first person who has over-indulged on the all-inclusive holiday but why do we do it? Most of us usually diet, detox or work out extra hard before going on holiday to make sure we are ready to bear our bikini bodies, and then expect to come home feeling relaxed, well-rested and full of energy. But if you have eaten like me at the all-inclusive buffet then this is unlikely to happen.
I'm not saying you can't enjoy yourself on holiday but by demonstrating a small amount of self-control you can avoid the beached whale effect.
Here are my top 5 golden rules for surviving the all-inclusive concept, and come home from a holiday feeling healthy, lean and well-rested.
#1 Restrict Bread
If the bread is good aim to have once slice/roll with your breakfast or lunch. Bread fills your tummy, leaving you feeling bloated and sluggish. A bloated tummy is not good if you are going for the beach babe look.
#2 Follow The "One Plate Rule"
Check out all your dinner options before piling your plate. Do a recce around the buffet table and choose what you would like to eat. The plates are usually fairly small to try and avoid wastage so fill it up and enjoy it. But don't go back for seconds, that's the rule!
#3 Be Choosy About Desserts
For me this is usually the most disappointing part of the buffet. They are never quite as good as they look. Choose ONE dessert and have that, don't go back for more or your second choice. There's a good chance that the same desserts will be offered more than once during your stay so you will still get a taste.
#4 Don't Have Too Much Fruit
Fruit is usually really good in sunnier climates so it's easy to over-indulge. I'm certainly not saying don't eat fruit because you will never get fruit this good at home. Just be aware that it can quickly increase your calorie intake during the day, is high in sugar and can also add to the bloating. Stick to fruit such as watermelon or berries.
#5 Drink Like A Fish
Tea, coffee, alcohol, fruit juice, fizzy drinks, are on tap all day everyday. It can all mount up very quickly. As a general rule I would say choose one drink to have with each meal, for instance, a tea or coffee for breakfast, a fruit juice for lunch and an alcoholic beverage with your evening meal. For the rest of the day drink plenty of water to stay well-hydrated.