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Eating healthy on vacation: a little indulgence is okay

Posted Aug 15 2011 8:47pm
One of the most challenging things about vacation can be sticking to healthy eating habits. At least for me! But I also believe in enjoying special indulgences in moderation, and living in the moment sometimes, because one of life's greatest pleasures is good food. We all know that. 

Just this afternoon I enjoyed 2 spicy bloody marys the size of my face and shared a huge basket of french fries and onion rings as an afternoon snack with some friends, followed by a veggie burger the size of Lake Superior! I'll be honest, my tummy hurts a bit.
I'm not really used to fried food in general these days and I've had more fried and fatty food these past 2 weeks then I've probably had all year. But how do I feel overall? I feel fabulous! It was worth every delicious onion ring bite, and then some! And let's be truthful here, I don't eat like this all the time. Just because all of my recipes are super healthy, and my What I Ate Wednesday posts are prob much in the same... just know, I'm a regular gal who enjoys cocktails and onion rings too. On occasion ;)
But there are still some easy ways to keep the majority of your eating habits healthy and on track, while on vacation. Here are a few things I've learned and try to stick to. 
1. Always enjoy a decent breakfast. If you are staying in hotels, you can pack instant oatmeal in your suitcase, or even local diners should have some options for healthy breakfasts. I'm a big fan of fruit and oatmeal, but some other good choices include yogurt, tofu scrambles, smoothies, cereal and whole grain pancakes or waffles. I have a favorite whole grain waffle mix that I actually bring in my suitcase sometimes. Make sure to include a little fat in your breakfast like nut butter or avocado, and it will keep you full and satisfied for longer. 
2. Don't deprive yourself. Sometimes I get into an all or nothing mindset. I really believe this stems from my eating disorder days. I either do not allow myself to have even the tiniest bite of whatever is being offered, or I'll say what the heck, and have a full plate full. This is not the best behavior. I find that I usually feel better when I allow myself  treats here and there without totally depriving myself. On vacation, practice moderation, but not deprivation. Get it? Okay the rhyming was totally corny, sorry. This one applies to everyday life too. 
3. Eat in group settings. I really believe one of the most fundamental practices around eating is enjoying our food in social settings. Michael Pollan preaches about this in his book, In Defense of Food. Social eating is one of the healthiest things we can do because it encourages relaxation, conversation, and the act of eating the meal is usually drawn out over a longer period of time allowing the stomach to send a signal to the brain that it's full. Also, people tend to watch their portion control a little better when eating around others. 

4. Don't be afraid to have healthy snacks. At home, I don't usually snack. I tend to have a smoothie in the morning followed by 2-3 moderate meals. That's just my daily routine. But on vacation I am go, go, go... and I tend to get hungry in between family planned meal times. If I put off snacking, when dinner time comes around I am usually starving and will fill up on pre-meal appetizers of chips and salsa, dip and wine/margaritas or whatever (my family loves to have big lavish food and drink pre-dinner get togethers on the porch every night), but then I don't have enough room for a healthy dinner! Ugh! So I have found that having a healthy snack in between meals like carrots and hummus, fresh fruit, or a handful of nuts, keeps me from stuffing my face with appetizers and drinks when dinner comes around. But that's just what works for me ;)
5. Get creative with physical activities. There are 2 kinds of people in this world. Those that find a gym or running path when they go on vacation and stick to their exact same routine as the one they follow at home, and those that go with the flow of friends, family and relatives and don't schedule their daily activities while on vacation around an exercise routine. My brother is the first type, but I am the second. That's just who I am so I deal with it. ;) But I try to keep up a decent amount of physical activity in other ways, like swimming, bike riding, pleasant afternoon walks, and even some hiking through the woods. But you will not see me in a gym on vacation. Sorry folks. 
6. Don't guilt trip. Try to remember, you are on vacation! I'm not saying that it's okay to totally pig out, not exercise and return home 10 pounds heavier; but if your healthy eating habits and fitness routine stray a bit, and you do gain a pound or two, don't sweat it! In all likeliness your body will adjust and shed the weight once you get back into your normal routine. 
I may have pigged out on bloody marys and onion rings this afternoon, but in all seriousness I really miss my juicer, my yoga classes and my normal daily routine. A lil vacation, relaxation, and indulgence may be good for the soul once and awhile, but at least I have healthy roots to fall back on!

~Peace, Love & Veggies xo
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