With summer comes travel and with travel can come some serious problems with eating in healthy ways. You may have found your groove eating at home. Maybe you’ve even found certain restaurants where you’ve figured out what to order. But once you hit the road, these healthy patterns get a bit lost on translation.
This change seems to come into play most of all during road trips or while visiting certain family members or even friends who don’t necessary understand your eating style.
EATING OUT WHILE OUT AND ABOUT
When it comes to the open road, the best ways to stay on target are to let technology be your friend and to have a game plan prior to even glancing at the menu.
Before you even step on the gas, you can use your phone to do just a couple minutes of research that will save you time and heartache at the table. Sites and apps like Yelp and Google Maps can help you find locations of restaurants that might fit the bill. Even if you don’t follow the specific diets, searching for “gluten-free” or “vegetarian” can bring up some health-minded folks making food with your health and palate in mind. But as a heads up, while searching “fresh,” “organic,” or “healthy” may turn up a few options, these words are overused at times and can end up meaning little to nothing.
No matter where you find yourself while eating on the road, don’t be afraid to ask questions. “What kind of oil do you cook that in?” “Do you know if the fish is farmed or wild?”
Be curious but not snooty. If they don’t know the answers or you don’t like the answers, you don’t have to lecture them or give them a hard time. They are just doing their job; and by asking, you may make them curious too.
It probably goes without saying but avoid foods that are fried: unhealthy oils are too often used and the high temperatures lead to rancid fats. If you go for a salad, ask for just olive oil and vinegar since pre-made dressings are usually high in sugar and made with those less than ideal oils.
Certain types of restaurants may lend themselves to better options. While Thai food can be high in sugar, it usually includes lots of vegetables and spices. Mexican food can be tailored to skip things like tortillas and just focus on meat, rice, beans, veggies and guac! Don’t forget that guac!
TAKE CONTROL ON THE ROAD
Of course, you can cut down on eating out of the road altogether by bringing food of your own in the car. Packing snacks and lunches from home and having them accessible cuts down on stops (unless you want to stretch your legs anyway) and lets you control what you eat better.
Fresh fruit, cut up vegetables and raw nuts make excellent on-the-road options that require little or no cooling. Salmon, turkey or beef jerky are great options, just keep an eye on the sodium and sugar content. For shorter drives or when you have a good way to keep them cold, hard-boiled eggs and nitrate-free deli meats are very family friendly and delicious.
I’ve personally utilized Intermittent Fasting myself and with my clients during travel for years. Particularly on travel days when we’re relatively immobile anyway and food choices tend to be extra limited. Learn more about Intermittent Fasting for travel and for health.
EATING WITH LOVED ONES
We all have those friends or family members who don’t understand our “weird” eating habits. In return, you sometimes can’t believe the foods they consume, despite feeling like they should know better.
It can be hard to have conversations with these people about your needs, especially if you are staying in their homes. You don’t want to seem ungrateful or disrespectful and you don’t want the dialogue the get heated.
Instead, try to approach this as an opportunity! Offer to cook a meal for everyone, including food shopping. Explain that you would like to show your gratitude for letting you stay there.
You can also run out and grab a few items that can make your life easier. If Sunday is chocolate chip pancakes breakfast, pick up omelette or oatmeal fixings with fruit and nuts on Saturday. Sandwich makings are easy to get and customize, as are salads. Grilling is a delicious, easy and usually quite healthy summer meal loved by most. By showing them how good healthy eating can be you might open up a whole new world for them!
If you do find yourself with folks that may be open to a dialogue about your eating habits, take advantage of that curiosity. If they’re interested, share your resources, recipes and even cook together.
LET IT GO
Accept the fact that when you are not in your usual element, you may not have all the foods you usually like to eat. Do what you can to plan ahead, bring food you love with you and find the best options you can. If you eat a less than “ideal” meal then just move on. Don’t carry stress or guilt over it which will ruin your summer fun (not worth it!).
And whatever you do, don’t spiral! Remember, every meal is a chance to start again! Avoid the whole “I ate like crap last night so I might as well eat like crap the rest of the trip” mentality. Start fresh with your very next choice. If you’re feeling heavy or sluggish eat something light and energizing! Add some extra greens, hydrate with extra lemon water.
Enjoy your vacation, your family, friends and adventure. Do the best you can but also know that there will be times when you have to go with the flow and that’s ok. If that’s not what summer is all about, I don’t know what is.