Whole Foods Diet on Vacation - Yes It's Possible
This is for all you lucky ones who take a christmas/winter trip. Whether you are going abroad or local, a vacation is a tough time to stick with your whole foods diet. If you make healthy choices and eat a whole foods diet for most of the year, don't stress about the choices you make on your vacation. Relax, do your best to eat healthy, and accept that it won't always be possible.
If you want to continue eating a whole foods diet on your vacation, you will have the greatest success if you plan ahead. I always start by doing a quick google maps search of restaurants near where I'm staying. I read through their menus and make a list of places that offer plenty of fresh vegetable options. Usually words like steamed, broiled, baked, grilled, poached, and roasted indicate a healthier way of cooking. Health focused restaurants will aim their advertising and menus towards their healthy choices.
As you can imagine, I'm a bit of a picky eater. There is no way I could enjoy a vacation if I ate out for all of my meals. So, I plan to either stay in a suite with a kitchenette or to live out of the hotel fridge or a cooler. Again, planning ahead here will make your vacation more enjoyable because you are not worrying about what you should cook. Eating your breakfast, lunch, and snacks out of your suite and going out for dinner keeps your meals easy and gives you plenty of variety.
Make your meals easy. If you are driving to your destination plan to cook your meals ahead of time. If you don't have time or are flying to your destination, good breakfast ideas are granola and a milk alternative, a good quality bar (Lara Bars is a great brand) paired with pre-cut fruit, or a cereal like Holy Crap Cereal and a milk alternative. Quick lunch ideas include whole wheat or ancient grain wraps/pitas stuffed with hummus, pre-cut veggies, and roasted chicken (most grocery stores sell pre-roasted whole chickens); leave out the wrap/pita and make it a salad; or save food from a dinner out for the following day's lunch. Purchase easy to prepare snacks like pre-cut veggies & hummus, pre-cut fruits, raw nuts & seeds, dried fruits, and good quality bars (Lara bars is a great brand). Always have your snacks on hand, so when you are hungry you aren't reaching for a processed food to fill the void in your stomach.
A great thing about travelling to warm tropical places is that usually the culture is geared towards a whole foods diet. If you are staying at an all-inclusive, stay away from the pizza, burger, and fries area of the buffet. Load your plate up with veggies, a whole grain like brown rice, and a meat option that hasn't been deep fried. If you like fish it will generally be fresh and delicious, take advantage of the opportunity to load up on omega-3's. Don't forget to enjoy an occassional dessert, you are on vacation after all, but keep it to one small serving of that something sweet. Look for dessert options that are fresh fruit based.
When you are relaxing on the beach enjoy a fresh fruit smoothy, they are easy to come by in the tropics. It probably wouldn't take you long to find a fresh fruit & vegetable juicing stand either. Look for the local beach coconut vendor, he's easy to spot. He will have a crazy looking machete and a mesh bag full of coconuts slung over his shoulder. Fresh coconut juice is packed with electrolytes and will help to replenish the minerals you sweat out from the heat. The coconut meat is rich in saturated fats that will improve nervous system function and rejuvenate age-related oxidative tissue damage. Eating/drinking 1 coconut a day while on your vacation can serve to improve digestion, improve your immunity, balance blood sugars, regulate hormone production, balance your thyroid, improve the health of your skin, increase your metabolism, and support healthy cholesterol formation in your liver. Coconuts are the best treat while you are soaking up some rays in your beach paradise! (Wolfe)
Pineapple and papaya will be abundant in your tropical paradise. These two fruits have the most amazing enzymes to help digest your food. For those of you who don't know, enzymes are catalysts that allow all of our bodily reactions to proceed. Digestive enzymes mix with water and help break down your food into smaller particles for digestion. Pineapples contain the enzyme bromelain which will help your food digest after a meal. Bromelain is also anti-inflammatory, so eating pineapple can help to reduce any pain you may have. Papayas are rich in a digestive enzyme called papain, eat this fruit as an appetizer or dessert and your stomach will thank you. (Haas and Elson)
When visiting another country do a little research into their diets before heading there. Learn what the people like to eat and what fresh food grows in the area. Maybe plan to tour a farm and see how they grow or make their food in that country. You will find that most cultures integrate whole foods into their core. You will learn how other people approach whole foods. You will have the opportunity to try something new. You will come home with new whole food options you like. You will be able to add more variety to your whole foods diet.
While travelling to your destination, whether flying or driving, make sure you have plenty of healthy snacks on hand and if at all possible pack your own lunch. I can't stress enough how important planning is to help you stick with your whole foods diet. If you have a healthy lunch or snack options on hand, you are less apt to stop at that fast food restaurant or peruse through the "goodies" at the gas station. Again good snack ideas are fresh fruits and vegetables, light dips like hummus, raw nuts & seeds, dried fruits, and good quality bars.
If you are heading to friend or family member's place, just keep them in the know. Talk with them about your diet and what you like to eat. Offer to help with meals and plan to make a special dish introducing them to the magic of whole foods. If you like a food that is out of the ordinary don't expect them to buy it, bring it along and share it. You can light the fire in them to get on the whole foods band wagon.
Want to learn more? I will soon be releasing a premium whole foods program that will explore this topic in more detail.
If you are heading away for the holidays take the following action steps:
- Make a plan! Check out local restaurants; decide if you're going to make your own breakfast, snacks, and lunches; research places to purchase your foods; or talk to anyone you are staying with about your whole foods diet and offer to help them with meals.
- Accept that vacation is a hard time to stick with any diet and allow yourself some wriggle room.
- Become familiar with local food, learn about the local diets, and try something new.
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Happy vacay all you lucky ducks.
Krystal Bernier, Holistic Nutritionist
Wolfe, David. Superfoods: The Food and Medicine of the Future. Berkeley, California: North Atlanitc Books, 2009. Print.
Haas, Elson M., and Buck Levin. Staying Health with Nutrition. 21st Century Edition. New York: Random House Inc., 2006. Print.