While On vacation, we get into an ‘anything goes’ mentality. Our minds are open, we’re in the moment and that pile of fresh baked local pastries calls to us. But, the truth is, the last thing we want is to come home feeling like we need to get away from it all again just to detox. Instead of going all in or restricting ourselves too rigidly, we’re hoping to achieve a beautiful balance that lets us explore, but not explode. We asked integrative nutritionist, Jennie Miremadi for some realistic guidelines for eating healthfully while on vacation…
How To Eat Healthfully While On Vacation + Still Have Fun
My clients often ask how to take healthy eating habits with them when they go on vacation. They don’t want to deprive themselves of trying exciting foods, but they also don’t want to get thrown off track. If you struggle with how to eat when you’re away on holiday, check out these tips…
Don’t bring a “cheat day” mentality with you on vacation | If your eating routine includes a “cheat day,” then you’re used to veering off your healthy diet one day per week. Even if cheat days aren’t part of your regular diet, you might apply the cheat day mentality to your vacation. You think, I’m on vacation from my life and that includes a vacation from eating healthy food. I’m going to indulge in as many decadent meals as possible while I’m away and I’ll get back to my healthy diet when I return home. Be wary of cheat day mentality! It can trigger bingeing or overeating of unhealthy food and leave you feeling overly full and unwell. It can also lead to excessively restricting food when you get home to counteract what you ate on vacation. This is no way to live or vacation. Stop the vicious cycle of overindulgence and deprivation and embrace a more balanced approach.
Eat mindfully | When on vacation, you’ll likely want to try local food that contains inflammatory ingredients you don’t typically eat. That’s okay — enjoying the traditional cuisine is a part of any vacation experience. The key is to eat these more decadent meals with a healthy mindset. Whether you eat chilaquiles on your trip to Mexico City, gooey cheese fondue in Switzerland or a chocolate croissant in Paris, make a conscious decision to eat the food you’ve chosen without guilt or shame and make sure you savor every bite. Eat just the portion of food that your stomach is physically hungry for and leave any extra on your plate. Remember, if your belly is full you won’t enjoy the food you’re eating, so there’s no benefit in eating past the point of hunger.
Connect to how the food is making you feel | When making a decision about whether to eat a particular food, stop judging the food as good or bad. Instead, connect to how the food will make you feel in your body and use that as the gauge for food choices. Most of the time, you’ll want to eat the food that is going to make you feel well and avoid eating the food that is going to make you feel unwell. Occasionally, you know a food is going to make you feel poorly, but you choose to eat it anyway because having the food experience in that moment is more important to you. For example, if you’ve always dreamed of going to Italy to eat authentic Italian pizza, but dairy makes you break out and gluten makes you bloated, choosing to endure the symptoms may be worth it as a part of your dream vacation. Does that mean you need to eat pizza for breakfast, lunch and dinner for every day of your trip? Absolutely not! The key is to weigh how the food makes you feel in your body versus your desire for a delicious culinary adventure. If you keep connecting back to how your body is feeling, it will always guide you to make the right decision.
Encourage Your Body’s Macronutrient Balance | While I invite you to not miss out on trying delicious local delicacies, the truth is that many places in the world have traditional food that is also nutrient rich. This means you can go on vacation, try the traditional cuisine and still feel amazing afterwards. But the key is to know what kind of food to look for. First, choose a meal that is made from real, whole foods. Next, opt for a meal that includes protein, fiber-rich carbohydrates and healthy fat. This magic combination of macronutrients will fill you up and help keep you satiated. Here are a couple of examples: If you are in Thailand, you may choose food like red coconut curry with vegetables and shrimp, or a chicken and green papaya salad. Similarly, if you’re in France, you may look for a salad Niçoise or an omelet with greens and mustard dressing. Aim to eat traditional macronutrient-balanced meals throughout your vacation, while sprinkling in decadent meals at the frequency that feels right to you.
Consider a Wellness Vacation | I love taking wellness vacations because I never come home feeling like I need a vacation from my vacation. It’s one of the best ways to decompress and return home looking and feeling your best. Whether it’s a yoga retreat, a hiking adventure or a week at a holistic detox center, you set yourself up to feel completely rejuvenated. And, if you pick the right place, you’ll also be able to eat delicious, healthy food. When deciding which wellness vacation to take, check out menus ahead of time and read online reviews to ensure that the food tastes as good as it looks. If a full menu isn’t available, before booking ask to see a sample menu and find out whether they’ll accommodate your dietary needs.