How I eat while I travel – Part 1

I recently took a trip to California and came back feeling energized and ready to get back to work like a normal person. I have to admit, that there are a lot of amazing places in California. If it somewhere you want a vacation, you might be interested in staying somewhere similar to or at the other amazing hotels there. Having a vacation really does help you to relax, I also spent three weeks in Europe last year, including Paris, Berlin and Crete. It was a fantastic experience, we even hired a car from so we could get around quicker and try more local cuisine! I stayed in all these places with zero changes to my mental state or how my jeans fit. This is NOT how things always were. I used to arrive from travel with my body screaming for normal food and hours of exercise. This stark difference has motivated me to write this post, because it’s been swirling in my brain for a long time.

With each passing year, I realize that food is paramount to my emotional and physical well-being. Its importance cannot be underestimated. So on a normal day-to-day basis, I watch what I eat closely and don’t eat much of what doesn’t work for me. Traveling takes me out of my normal eating, because there’s no better way to experience a place than through its own food. And wine, duh. BUT. Huuuuge but. I want to feel my best and most energetic while I travel, because if I feel like crap, my experience is robbed. So, to what degree am I willing to say eff-it to my way of eating while I travel?

Finding the balance between enjoying travel but not letting that enjoyment get in the way of how I feel has been one of my biggest challenges. Because for so long, I viewed travel as a complete no-holds-barred experience, food-wise. Traveling equaled bingeing. My “experiencing” of foods equated to constant overeating, constant overdrinking, and constant sugar consumption.

I’ve been working hard on my relationship with food for a long time, and after getting fed up of coming back from vacations feeling awful and ten pounds heavier, I’ve learned that overeating doesn’t equal enjoyment. It means discomfort. I’ve also learned that eating what doesn’t work for me doesn’t equal enjoyment. It equals discomfort. I needed to change my mindset around vacation if I ever wanted to come back feeling any semblance of goodness.

What I’m striving for now is finding a way to enjoy while experiencing. My goal while traveling is to feel as awesome as I can because I know that the more amazing I feel, the more I’ll be open to enjoyment and the better my overall experience will be. Nowadays, my travel is different. After so much work, so much NOT honoring myself, so much of having the wrong idea of what enjoyment entails, this means:

  • Never overeating. Constantly checking in with myself on how hungry I am, and more importantly, how full I get, and stopping when I begin to feel full.
  • Drinking alcohol moderately. This usually means two drinks maximum per day. Never excessively, because having a hangover will ruin my next day. This isn’t ALWAYS the case, but I really try hard to keep my alcohol consumption low.
  • Not eating things I know will mess me up ie: gluten & dairy. This is hard, but doable. I know that eating either of these can mess me up emotionally & physically, so I avoid them as much as I can. I now view foods that have gluten in them as the feeling they’ll give me afterwards, so they’re completely unappealing. People think I’m nuts for this, but feeling terrible for 4-5 days is not worth one minute of something delicious. Last year I went to Greece & Turkey and I did not eat yogurt, cheese or baklava once, and my overall experience was AMAZING. I do not look back at that trip and think it lacked whatsoever.
  • Walking A LOT. Getting my steps in makes me feel good, because for such a long time I viewed vacation as a vacation from my life and myself which meant being lethargic and sedentary.
  • Being vigilant of what is worth it. I know if I eat too many things that I don’t normally eat I’ll feel like junk, and then I’ll be in a bad mood. Surrounded by treats on vacation is normal, so I am SUPER selective of what I eat, treat-wise, and make sure I only take a couple bites. If the first bite isn’t worth it, I stop.
  • Food is not EVERYTHING. There is so much more to experience from a place than its food. Walking around, socializing, soaking in culture like a freaking sponge, observing, and moving through a place is just as important. Having my experience ruined by the feeling I get with how I’m eating is not something I’m willing to do anymore.


What are the TANGIBLE things I do while I travel to stay feeling awesome?

  • I bring meals for the plane. Like, full meals. Sometimes, a lot of them. Sometimes, I bring a mini cooler with meals or components of meals if I’m going to be traveling for a really long time. ALWAYS. Sometimes, I’m stopped in the security line and the TSA agents are like WTF are you doing with all this food, woman? I always have a good laugh with them, and honestly, all the junk and thoughts/judgement from other people about me bringing my food is ALWAYS worth it to me. I just stopped caring what anyone thinks. I care what I think about myself and how I feel about myself. I try to bring plain things like turkey patties, deli meat, or a salad and roasted vegetables or raw vegetables with a dressing. I’m not the asshole that brings fish or sardines or tuna on the plane. I draw a line. But I have no shame about busting out lettuce wraps out of my purse. People look at me a lot, but seriously, I do not care.
  • I don’t drink on planes or prior to boarding. I used to, because it’s fun, but it’s not worth it to me because how I feel afterwards is NOT fun. I like arriving to my destination feeling refreshed and ready to go, not with the beginning of a hangover.
  • I bring A LOT of snacks. Most recently, I brought an entire gallon sized ziploc bag filled with food. The snacks I bring are mainly protein-based like jerky, because I know if I’m stuck somewhere that has dire options, at least I can get a plain salad anywhere and eat it with my protein. Protein is the most difficult thing to find while traveling, and while I can carry fruit or raw veggies, carrying hunks of cooked protein is a little more awkward than I’m willing to go. Some people think it’s weird to eat a bar made of meat and while I can acknowledge that, I’m still stuffing it into my mouth and being happy while I eat it. Protein will also keep me full and satisfied as opposed to carb snacks which just make me hungrier. The ones I like are all available on Amazon and Whole Foods:
    • Vermont sticks (turkey ancho & turkey pepperoni)
    • Epic bars (chicken sriracha, chicken sesame barbecue, bison cherry habanero, turkey almond cranberry, beef – some of these are whole30 friendly)
    • Epic bites (salmon maple & dill, chicken sesame)
    • Wilde bars (thai basil, turkey blueberry)
    • Rx Bars (not my favorite, but they are super popular)
  • Go to a grocery store. When you arrive, stock up on extra, fresh snacks and get things that you can eat for breakfast. I find that if I eat a solid, healthy breakfast that I have prepared, I feel so so much better, I save money, and my digestion is better. I will eat breakfast out from time to time, but eating three meals out per day while on vacation just makes me feel like junk. To do this, you must…
  • Stay somewhere with a full kitchen or at the bare minimum, a fridge and microwave. This is much easier than you think. Most hotels offer rooms with a fridge and microwave at no charge, you just have to ask. When I book hotels, it’s the first thing I do. They never ask why, they just give me my fridge for free and that’s the way I like it. Even if I had to pay a small fee, it would be worth it to me. We’ve also been experimenting with AirBnB over this last year, and have done it three separate times. We LOVE it and are hooked; it’s now our preferred method of hospitality. You can choose to get a home with a full kitchen, which is what we do, so I can make us breakfast and other meals at home. Most places come with pots and pans, so you can even make lunch or dinner if you feel inclined.
  • COFFEE. Coffee is pretty much the main reason why I want to stay in a place with a kitchen or microwave, because coffee makes me go to the bathroom. And if I want to keep myself feeling well while I’m on vacation, I need to go to the bathroom.
  • Keeping digestion in check. I kind of mentioned this above, but the ultimate reason I choose to stay away from foods I know will eff me up is because if I eat them, I run the risk of slowing down or completely stopping my digestion, which will mean I will walk around a city being an uncomfortable, bloated mess who’s in a bad mood and wants nothing more than to go to the bathroom. This also goes back to sugar consumption or drinking too much, they just make my stomach feel terrible. It’s a cycle. I eat the thing, I feel bad, my digestion doesn’t work, I have low energy, I have no motivation to keep going. It just messes everything up. Having healthy digestion is key for me to have a happy life and it always has been. It didn’t come as a surprise when studies came out about gut flora and how it affects our mood.
  • I focus on eating tons of fresh vegetables, protein, and fruit. Vegetables are difficult to come by, and so is protein. So when I eat out, I focus on getting as many fibrous veggies as I can, and I EAT UP. I also focus on protein to stay satisfied. I mentioned above how I bring snacks, and I will also put raw veggies or fruit in my bag, which some people think is weird, and this last time I found snap peas in my wallet a couple days after I got back from this trip, so there’s that.
  • I don’t diet, restrict, or do a “challenge” while on vacation. Just, never. This messes with my mind too much. I need to feel free while I’m on vacation and stringent rules will set me up for a binge. Plus, refusing a food because it has some added sugar or butter just seems bonkers to me right now.
  • Wearing (mostly) fitted clothes. This motivates me to stay committed to feeling good, because if I bring baggy clothes, I’ll be cool with walking around feeling pregnant and bloated. If I feel like I look good, then I end up feeling good by default.

You guys might be like WHOA, you’re intense. But now, it’s second nature to me. I’m adamant about it because it keeps me feeling as awesome as I did upon my arrival home as I did at my departure time. I spent the first 27 years of my life viewing vacation as an excuse to binge, coming back ten pounds heavier, and hating myself thereafter. This is not how things are anymore. I know so many people suffer from this, and I just wanted to let you know it’s possible to change.

My focus now is living a life in which I eat mostly the same everyday, establishing a baseline for how I choose to eat, and eating the same way that I do today, a random Tuesday, as I do on Thanksgiving, in terms of quantity and quality of foods. I don’t ever want to feel like I don’t want to move after eating, which is how I was taught that vacation should be. So many of my vacation memories are clouded by me feeling bloated, uncomfortable, constipated, foggy, tired, or hungover from alcohol or a sugar binge.

In this post I talked about my travel ideas, but in the second part of this post, I’ll compare specific examples of how I used to eat on vacation (plus the mindset shifts surrounding the food) to how I eat now with two separate food diaries. Stay tuned!

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