Eating well on vacation: Balance is key

Woman eating healthy mealBY HEATHER CASSELL

Vacation is the time to let go, relax and eat whatever you want, right? Yes and no. More and more gluttony is getting a beat down by us girls who want to treat our bodies like the temple it is, even while we are gallivanting around the world.

So, how do we strike the balance where we are putting good things into our bodies and still enjoying the tastes of life wherever our wandering feet take us as we spring into action for bikini-ready bodies and summer vacations?

To get to the bottom of the bowl or glass, Girls That Roam recently sat down with three nutrition experts to help us navigate getting our bodies ready for traveling without leaving our taste buds at home, embracing the adventure and staying healthy without skipping a beat.

People often go into one of two modes when they go on vacation: “fuck it” or “control it.” Both modes are extreme and not healthy.

Really, you don’t want to “Poopoopski,” like Charlotte did on the Big honeymoon rescue in Mexico when the girls carried Carrie getaway after she was jilted in her Vera Wang in the first “Sex and the City: The Movie” movie. Rather than indulging in healthy food and eating right, Charlotte attempted to control her food out of fear of being in a foreign country pulling one Poughkeepsie pudding after another out of her Prada for breakfast, lunch and dinner until she “Poopoopskied.” That’s a bad side effect of controlling it.

Concerned about catching something or eating bad food? The best way to get your body vacation ready, especially if you are traveling to countries in Asia and Latin America, is to take digestive enzymes, says Srinika Narayan, MS, Lac., a San Francisco-based nutritionist and owner of Srinika Healing & Nutrition.

“Just being safe in terms of not catching things, especially in other countries … I take digestive enzymes,” says Srinika, pointing out that amoeba or little parasites are food for the enzymes. “They break down the foods for me so it takes some stress off the digestive organs, especially since when eating out you tend to eat richer food than what you do at home.”

Srinika also suggests getting travel ready eating probiotics, such as sauerkraut or yogurt, basically fermented food that will help the “gut good bacteria” and “kind of keep the stomach happy.”

Srinika adds to be aware of any water-based food, such as chutney or sauces and of course ice, that’s where “dangerous water” sometimes slips into food.

If bacteria and bugs don’t worry us then gaining weight from indulging does.

“We go into a vacation worried about gaining weight so then we get really controlling and rigid with our food; that’s not healthy either,” says nutritionist Jamie Greenwood, of based in Albany, Calif.

“Fuck it! I’m on vacation”

On the other side of the plate there are the people who simply get that autopilot glaze over their eyes and let go when they are traveling or on vacation.

“We get a case of ‘fuck it.’ It’s like, ‘fuck it. I’m on vacation and I’m going to taste everything,’ and that is actually not listening to our body,” says Jamie, who blogs about feeding your body and soul at Body OnBoard.

Yeah, “I’m going to go to town,” chimes in Dana Kofsky, a nutrition stylist at Nutrition Styles in Los Angeles, Calif.

“People say ‘I’m on vacation, so I will eat what I want,’ versus staying present to their body and listening to their body,” says Dana, who encourages people to stop and listen to their body about what it really wants and how much it wants.

Stopping and listening is what Jamie calls honoring what you want versus what you think you want simply because you are on vacation, she says.

Picky, Picky

Sally in “When Harry Met Sally” wasn’t wrong when she was so precise while ordering her food. The waitress and Harry may have looked at her like she was crazy, but perhaps she was onto something and being her body’s advocate.

“You have to remember you are your body’s advocate, no one else is going to stand for your body unless you do,” says Jamie.

Vegetables are a hot commodity on the road. It can sometimes seem like restaurants are rationing the veggies; for what, we don’t know.

“When it comes to traveling it’s really hard to get vegetables,” says Jamie. “I try to bump up whatever I order. I make sure I get double vegetables.”

Srinika agrees, “You have to make an effort to include vegetables when you go out to eat” as a lot of times the vegetables served up are in very small portions. Protein is just as important she adds “make sure you are getting protein at every meal.”

What does it come down to? Be Sally.

It comes down to “owning your voice and not being afraid of putting your needs out [there],” continues Jamie, about asking for substitutions or requesting a side order. “You are not demanding anything. You are just simply asking is it possible to get this.”

“You can actually maneuver around a menu,” says Jamie, pointing out that it’s very important to become conscious of this fact rather than settling for what is on the menu. “Sometimes if we don’t see something that we like we just order whatever instead of actually realizing that I have a choice here.”

It never hurts to ask. See if you can pair a different side that you want from another menu item with the dish you are planning to order or to ask for that item as a side, without altering the chef’s creation.

Dana agrees adding that more restaurants nowadays are “extremely thoughtful and make it easy to request because there are so many allergies and food sensitivities” in addition to peoples’ rising health consciousness.

“Our bodies are basically like our inner-GPS system,” says Dana. “It tells us how to get to point A to point B. We just don’t listen to it.”

“When you listen to your body she will move you in the direction of the food she wants, which is usually the food that is going to feed you back,” agrees Jamie.

We don’t feel good when we don’t listen. Least case scenario we get an upset stomach. Worst case scenario we get sick or break out.

Dana’s “rule of thumb” is if you are reviewing the menu and are considering a selection, she says, “If you have to eliminate more than three items, you probably should be ordering something else.”

Savoring Life

At the same time, they aren’t about not embracing the adventure, including the wonderful gastronomic world out there. From their perspective, every state, city and country has different food choices that are meant to be explored.

“Let yourself enjoy,” says Jamie. “You are on vacation. Not only that, you are having a new adventure. Part of the new adventure is experiencing the food of the culture.”

“You can have a bite of something and participate without eating all of it,” continues Jamie. “If you are in France and you want to indulge in all of the desserts, because that’s really what you want, do it, but you don’t have to sit down and eat the entire thing. You can have one bite and let the rest go.”

The same with street food, particularly in some countries where you have to be aware of how the street food is prepared, just “make sure you have some digestive enzymes if you have a sensitive tummy and make sure that you are drinking lots of water,” continues Jamie.

“Having enzymes is really a lifesaver,” agrees Srinika, pointing out that they are easily available at any health food store and should be packed for any journey. “So have some of those on hand.”

Some of the ways to savor the adventure is to “choose the healthiest option,” says Dana, but do it in a way where you are able to “feel like you are able to enjoy the food without going into over indulging, but still being able to indulge.”

“Life is to be enjoyed,” says Dana, but there are some sure signs when you have over indulged, particularly with food. “You know when you have over eaten if you can’t comfortably have sex after you’ve eaten.”

“You want to be eating until you are satisfied, because the last thing you want to do is have sex when you’ve eaten too much,” she says.

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