You worked hard all year and waited patiently for a much-deserved break. Your trip was perfectly planned and there you are, on vacation — eat, drink and be merry! But after a while, the effects of vacation food and drink don’t leave you feeling so merry.
Celebration eating happens when we’re in party mode — it seems like a good idea at the time. You’re away from home, no kitchen to clean, no groceries to buy, and when it’s time to order in a restaurant, that celebratory notion says, “Just have it, you’re on vacation, worry about it later.” What’s that they say about payback?
Restaurant meals are higher in salt, sugar, additives and fat than meals prepared at home. After a few days of party food, lethargy, bloating and irritability can set in and change up your best-laid plans. No matter how beautiful your surroundings or how carefully you planned, somehow it’s not as much fun when indigestion and fatigue are part of your vacation.
Menus are designed to sell you meals — in other words, they are marketing to you. “Lightly crusted, sizzled to perfection, with a delicate glaze of golden, caramelized goodness imported from the upper north region of heaven....” (I may have read that on a menu). But if we can let go of salivating, romantic notions, it is possible to eat delicious food and have a great time without afternoon fatigue, stomach upset or weight gain. After all, you don’t want to miss out on planned events because you’re too tired and have an upset stomach. You’ll want to enjoy quality food and still have the energy to do whatever you want, and afterwards, have clear memories of all the sights and sounds.
There’s more to having a great vacation than eating. Maybe what you really need is some solitude or a good book. Maybe you need to be inspired. Whatever it is that will create the perfect trip for you, I hope your intuition will help you create it. You deserve to get the most out of your playtime and return home edified, and to clothes that still fit. Celebrate your body right along with your time off. Here are a few thoughts on eating well, ordering out, feeling great and having a memorable time, during and after your vacation.
Most restaurants serve portions twice the size you need. Split your meal with your travel buddy. Your waistline will thank you and you’ll have a few extra bucks to spend.
When choosing from a breakfast menu, remember that dressed-up sweet carbs such as French toast, waffles and pancakes are not celebration foods. When your blood sugar has spiked and lethargy follows, they actually take the celebration out of your day. Choose to eat light at breakfast. Choose seasonal fruits and whole grains. Keep it simple and sugar-free. The extra energy felt later in the day will help you enjoy yourself to the fullest.
Stay away from fast foods. Be on the lookout for hometown cafés, sandwich shops and local produce stands. You are more likely to find higher quality produce and meals.
Avoid the late-night dinner hour. If you must eat past your normal dinner hour, make it a protein-and-vegetable combination meal. Leave carbs out of the equation. You'll sleep better and feel better when you wake up.
Stay hydrated. Start your day with a glass of water and be aware of how many you drink throughout the day. Your vacation is not the time to deal with chapped lips, constipation, dry skin and headaches resulting from dehydration.
Read something that inspires you.
Take a daily walk to enjoy the sights and smells of your chosen spot. Whether it’s on the streets of an urban jungle, along a breezy beach or around a rural main street, drink it in as you elevate your heart rate and burn some extra calories.
If you are a die-hard sightseer or are traveling with one, make sure you have allowed enough sleep time.
As you wake up, take a few full, slow breaths. Empty your mind as you adjust to the air quality. If you are in a hotel, open the windows occasionally.
Stretching for 5 minutes daily will counter the effects of all the sitting, standing and waiting in line that comes with traveling. It increases circulation and releases tension. It is one of the best-kept secrets of traveling well.
Take along a travel-sized foam roller. It fits in your suitcase and 10 minutes of well placed rolling provides many of the same benefits as getting a massage.
Release thoughts of obligations back at the ranch. They’ll surely be there when you get back. Don’t let them keep you from being present at this special time. Stay in the moment.
Your vacation time is precious. With a little planning, you’ll return healthier physically, mentally and spiritually. Then, your vacation will have been a true success.
I’ll see you in two weeks.
Love & health,