There are numerous occasions when eating healthy is a challenge. There are birthday parties, weddings, Thanksgiving day, Valentine’s day, and other reasons why people choose to indulge in junk food. And then there’s the challenge of eating well when going out of town on an extended vacation. For someone with Graves’ Disease or Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis who is following a strict diet, having a single cheat day can have a negative effect on their recovery. But when someone goes on a vacation for a few days or longer, and chooses to eat poorly most of the time, it can completely ruin what they’re trying to accomplish. And so the goal of this blog post is to discuss how you can eat well while on vacation, and still have a good time.
Keep in mind that I’m not trying to be a “party pooper”, as I’d be lying if I told you that I don’t eat some bad foods when I’m on vacation. However, while it’s usually not a problem indulging every now and then after someone has restored their health back to normal, if you are in the process of trying to restore your health then you really do want to try to be as strict as possible. An ideal situation would be to either plan your vacation before following a natural treatment protocol, or after you have restored your health back to normal. With that being said, I realize that some people won’t follow this advice and will go on a vacation a few months after starting a strict diet, and I’ll list some tips to help keep you on track while you’re out of town.
Is Eating Unhealthy Necessary To Enjoy Your Vacation?
Different people will perceive this question differently. Many people eat unhealthy all of the time, but eat even worse when they are on vacation. Other people eat healthy while at home, but eat a lot of junk food while out of town. Other people will try to have some healthy meals while on vacation, although they will eat more junk food while away from home. And some super healthy people will eat the same regardless of whether they are at home or on vacation.
Most people can have an enjoyable vacation even when eating healthy. After all, I think it’s safe to say that the main reason people go on vacation isn’t so they can eat unhealthy foods. They usually go on vacation to relax, spend time with friends and family, do some type of activity, etc. And in most cases, poor planning and the inconvenience of the situation is a big reason why most people eat poorly while on vacation. Keep in mind that I’m not trying to be critical of those who indulge on vacation, as remember I admitted earlier that I don’t eat a perfect diet when I’m on vacation. But I eat better than most people while traveling, and the reason has nothing to do with greater willpower, but instead has to do with proper planning. When I eat junk food of some type, usually I know ahead of time that I’m going to indulge, although I admit that this isn’t always the case. So what are some of the things you can do in order to improve the chances of eating well while on vacation?
- Stay somewhere with a refrigerator and kitchenette. If you plan on eating healthy most of the time while on vacation it usually is best to prepare most of your meals. But wait, doesn’t this defeat the purpose of going on vacation? If you consider cooking to be hard work then I understand that you might not want to cook while on vacation. And I’m not suggesting that you have to spend hours preparing meals. At the very least you can buy healthier pre-made options at a local health food store for some of the major meals, and if you bring some of your own pots and pans and/or a blender (or stay somewhere that already has these) you can start the day with a healthy smoothie or some eggs, both which aren’t too time consuming.
- If you plan on eating out, do some research to find restaurants with healthier options. This is best done beforehand, as you can visit some websites to find some restaurants which have healthier options. Some examples include www.urbanspoon.com and www.findmeglutenfree.com.
Another thing you can do is to simply visit Google and do some searching for specific keywords involving healthy foods. So for example, if you’re taking a vacation to Orlando Florida you can type in “grass fed beef restaurant Orlando”, or “gluten free restaurant Orlando”. Something else you can do is look up a few of the local health food stores and contact them, as the people who work there hopefully will have some ideas about healthy places to eat.
- Bring healthy snacks. While driving or flying to your destination, make sure you bring your own healthier snacks. And if it’s going to be a long drive or flight which involves you eating meals, I once again would try to do some planning to see which restaurants along the way or at the airport have healthier choices, gluten free options, etc. Obviously I would try to avoid fast food, but if the only options are common restaurant chains such as Chili’s, Applebees, etc., then I would eat something such as a grilled chicken salad without the croutons, perhaps a turkey burger without the bun with a side of steamed broccoli, etc.
- Try to go on vacation with immediate family members. If you are trying to stick to a strict diet it can be challenging going on vacation with friends, unless if they have a more natural mindset. Truth to be told, it sometimes can be challenging going on vacation with immediate family members as well, as they might be fine eating well while at home, but plan on indulging when on vacation. If this is the case then at least try to convince them to eat a few healthy meals, and I would still try to plan ahead when it comes to eating out at restaurants. Once again, if you end up at a restaurant which doesn’t have healthier food choices I would at least try to stick to eating whole foods. And if you haven’t already done so I would visit the website for the Environmental Working Group and download the “dirty dozen” and “clean fifteen” lists, as the “dirty dozen” lists the fruits and vegetables with the greatest amount of pesticides, while the “clean fifteen” lists the top fifteen foods with the least amount of pesticides.
- If necessary, postpone your vacation. I realize this isn’t always possible, and even when it is possible it is not desirable. After all, life is short, and you have a right to get some rest and relaxation. With that being said, if postponing one’s vacation will improve your chances of restoring your health, and therefore will result in you being better able to enjoy future vacations, then it probably is worth it. But once again, if you plan ahead and are flexible with regards to where you go and where you can stay, then it is possible to eat healthy.
In fact, when deciding to go on vacation perhaps you can use this as an opportunity to visit a city where there are plenty of health food stores and healthier restaurants. In other words, instead of just randomly choosing a location due to the proximity, or based on an attraction you want to visit, do some searching for cities which have numerous health food stores and healthier restaurant options. This combined with a hotel/motel which has a refrigerator and small kitchenette will make eating healthier. And rather than calling it a vacation, refer to it as a “healthy retreat”, or something similar.
Keep in mind that the above tips are mainly for when you are following a strict natural protocol to restore your health. Of course this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to eat somewhat healthy while on future vacations as well, but as I’ve mentioned in past articles and blog posts, there is more room to indulge after someone has restored their health back to normal. On the other hand, if you are currently dealing with weak adrenals, a leaky gut, and/or other compromised areas of your body, it really is a good idea to be as strict as possible while trying to get healthy again.
In summary, eating healthy is a challenge for many people, but is even more challenging when going on vacation. However, most people can enjoy their vacation even when eating healthy foods. The key to eating healthy while away from home is to do some proper planning, which might include choosing a place to visit which has plenty of health food stores and restaurants with healthier food choices. Just remember that I’m not saying that you should never indulge when on vacation, but for those people who are following a natural treatment protocol, being strict with your diet is important to receive optimal benefits, and as a result you don’t want to wreck your diet while on vacation.