What I want to talk a bit about is traveling and eating, because one of the things I hear so often from friends and clients is that they eat so well at home, but once they go away on holiday, they gain a bunch of weight. Yes, holidays are fraught of diet-busting temptations, but if you refocus your perspective, you’ll see a lot of other opportunities to improve your health. Let me share with you my personal approach to feeling great while away on my foodie adventures.
1. I often find that the first few days of a holiday are the hardest for control. It’s hard not to get a little excited and overwhelmed with the prospects of trying and eating everything around me. One trick that has helped me (and this can also be applied at home, of course) is to remind myself that tomorrow is another day of good eats. If I’m not hungry anymore after having one bite of dessert, I’m not obligated to finish it. Tomorrow is another opportunity to sample a tasty treat.
2. That brings me to number 2, listen to your body. Again, this can be hard those first days, but once I settle into the tradition of delicious and exciting meals, I am more able to slow down my horses and put the breaks on when I’ve had enough.
3. Now, I know traveling is not quite like eating at home. At home, if you don’t eat a big enough breakfast, you can also just wander back to the fridge for a snack between meals. Well, most of us don’t have a full pantry in our hotel rooms, and often we’re out and about without a bag of granola bars. Regardless, I try not to “stuff” myself in anticipation of a long haul before the next meal. If anything, I try to eat as much as will satisfy me AT THAT TIME knowing that getting a little peckish a few hours before dinner is just another excuse for a food adventure. Maybe I will pick up a single piece of baklava, or go to the local food market for a fresh peach. There are always options to seek out, and you will likely make a tastier choice when you actually have an appetite. And, if you happen to last out until dinner on the moderate meal you had earlier, then that’s great, too – you’ve saved yourself calories you didn’t want or need.
4. Let’s talk about the breakfast buffet in particular, because that was something I was pretty impressed with in Israel. All of the hotels we stayed in had lovely (and often really large and extensive) complementary spreads. This is where we can apply the lessons of 1-3. It can be hard not to pile eggs, pancakes, toast, pastries, potatoes, yogurt and fruit onto your plate when all of those things are offered and look incredible. But I really try to think of breakfast as I would at home. Today I’ll have an omelet with some yogurt and berries- and maybe tomorrow will be pancake day- and then the next day maybe I’ll try that delicious looking pastry etc. Just like there is room for all foods in a healthy diet, there is time for all foods in a foodie trip. Again, listen to your body and consider tapering off the eating when you’re full. If you can’t get through your plate comfortably, it’s okay to walk away. If you’re still hungry and want a second helping of those crispy potatoes- then allow yourself that. This is your body, treat it however you intuitively think is best.
5. Don’t forget that while you probably are going to eat more (and more calories) than you would at home, you also likely are going to move more. We walked a hell of a lot, regardless of the heat, because if we didn’t move, we wouldn’t have experienced all the sights, smells, sounds and tastes that Israel had to offer. If you are able, do try to walk from activity to activity. It will save you cab money, burn some of those excess calories, and offer more opportunities for exploration.
6. Cut yourself some slack if you do gain a bit of weight. I don’t really weigh myself, so I am not sure if I gained or lost, but I didn’t care regardless. It was a holiday, and if I had denied myself that tasting menu out of fear of the excess calories, I would have gone home disappointed in myself. If you do your best with some of the above tips, then you can easily afford a few delicious indulgences. So gain or lose, this was a special experience that you should remember for the fun, flavours and company- not for the guilt and anxiety over food. Enjoy it, and then get back to your normal routine at home. “No biggie”.
I wish you all safe and delicious travels. Here’s to counting down the days until my next foodie adventure!
Abbey Sharp is a Registered Dietitian, an avid food writer and blogger, a cookbook author and the founder of Abbey’s Kitchen Inc.