Eating well on holiday isn’t easy. Even harder for Paleo or allergy dieters. Diet plans go out the door and in comes the junk. In this post i talk about a few rules to avoid this issue.
Get back on the horse
I am wheat allergic (not gluten) but not bad enough to cause me major problems if i accidentally ingest some. However, this allergy still makes me very conscious to start with and helps me avoid heavy processed carbs like breads most of the time. Because of this i find it much easier than most to eat well abroad. My wife struggles a little as she loves a few pieces of sourdough or ciabatta with dipping oil at dinner… or even a dessert. Even i occasionally fail at eating well for a day, but i don’t beat myself up over it. I get back on the horse.. everyday. Don’t leave it and write off your whole week. Start again as soon as you make a mistake and on your next choice pretend you are back to normal. It works, trust me.
Give good food half a chance
Another key point to all this ‘eating well’ on holiday stuff is to be firm on yourself and give new or different things a chance. Most people don’t think that some of the healthier choices are exciting enough. This is half the problem with most people’s eating habits full stop. They also gravitate to things they know or usually have out of shear habit and laziness. When i am on holiday with people and we are ordering, i often hear the “Oh what the hell i am on holiday!” line when having a dessert; as if those that say this don’t do this at home? Please… take a holiday from yourself. It won’t kill you to make some decent decisions on holiday to keep your lifestyle on track. While you need to enjoy the good food you do chose, you also need to feel good for doing it; both in the head and the body. I am not saying don’t have things you like. I am saying don’t be a piglet – try to choose healthy things you like from the menu even if there is an unhealthy item on the menu calling your name. That way, you can have a beer or glass of wine at dinner and feel good about yourself when you walk out of the restaurant. Instead of dessert, i often have a shot of cognac and an espresso. It’s a lot less damaging and a lot less calories than a dessert with flour, sugar and cream.
Marinated Kingfish with onion and tomato (above) is hardly yucky. But if it’s not for you, go for the avocado, tomato and mango salsa (below). Try it… give it a chance. Avoid too many corn chips! Not only did i have some of these anti-paleo chips, i walked miles from the hotel to get my lunch and back again. I planned it and you can do the same. These chips were the only heavy carbs i had all day. Later that night, i hopped back on my horse and chose meat and veg only.
Avoid breads, pastas and rice where possible
I love food. I am not alone because i think there are some 7 billion others that eat and enjoy food too. I hate hearing the comment from someone who struggles to make good choices and says “Oh you don’t understand, i really love my food”. So i always ask “… so you’re different from me how?” Jeepers people, get a life; we all love food! The difference? I remember how i don’t like feeling really full or bloated… or slightly ill from processed high fat or high carb food. Seriously, it can’t make anyone feel good. Eating it yes, the aftermath? No! Think of the pain associated with it before you choose it and then the weight issue that comes with it. Try other things, it won’t kill you, but not doing so might.
Alter your meal selection by asking your waiter
I do this in Bali, Fiji or even in France. Even if the frenchman talking to me does his nose and chin thing when i ask for no bread! When i get my little french omelette i then ask for another and say it was great! They are often very happy when that happens. I constantly alter the menu choice. Below is a steak meal that i asked to have with more greens and no chips or bread. I had several glasses of wine with this and that is a 200% better choice than the chips or bread. Meat is not typically high on Balinese menus but in good restaurants they have plenty of imported meat choices. So we ate high end in Bali most of the time. This is more expensive, but hardly expensive compared to eating out in Australia for example. Some of the New Zealand and Aussie travelers we bumped into complained about prices and really needed to get over this. There is too much expectation on food we are used to in a place that doesn’t grow or farm it like we do. Same with the wine, it’s imported in low quantities and so it’s expensive. If you stick to rice meals and duck etc, you can eat cheaply. However, my health is more important than my wallet. Especially on holiday. Quality not quantity people.
In Bali i regularly asked for an omelette with a few sides and i would tell them “no bread please” with hand signals… and repeat myself. I also get across that i am allergic to it. They soon make sure i don’t get any and instead i have cooked mushrooms, roasted tomatoes and maybe some bacon. It isn’t a lot dearer and some cafes don’t charge me for all sides. When i am done, i always go up to the counter and thank them, even if the meal was average. Not only might i return, but they made an effort and that matters to me for my health.
In Bali it’s amazing how many ways eggs will come out on a plate. Below is a good example of an european breaky “Balinese” style. Under the eggs were beans. Ok, so it is not Paleo but better than bread. I didn’t need a snack that morning!
Apply an 80/20 rule with your food…
You can’t always be 100% Paleo or Primal or whatever your diet requires; least of all on holiday. It is near impossible for most people to find grass fed meats even at home, easily. So i don’t panic if it’s not. The health aspects of simply eating meat (albeit probably grain fed) with vegetables is a darn sight better option than the weight i might gain (with the associated health problems) from eating a lot of heavy processed carbs. However, there are fish and eggs too, so there are always choices. You don’t want to be obsessive about this, but simply conscious. You can always improve your diet when and as you learn of better choices and suppliers of these foods. On holiday, don’t worry about it at all.
I do not claim a Paleo or Primal diet as my life mantra for eating food; but my diet does have a heavy Paleo basis, for lack of words to describe it better. I occasionally introduce legumes (like above) or grains in a small way into my diet – namely green beans and spelt toast on the occasional mornings. I avoid dairy more than legumes or grains because i don’t do well on it. But i have a dollop of milk in my tea sometimes and the occasional parmesan cheese in a salad. No ice-cream ever, it blocks my sinuses like a Bali drain. I also drink the occasional soy latte when i don’t feel like a long black (americano) – and I am not concerned about the estrogen aspects of soy as it is one glass in a week. I also have a teaspoon of brown sugar in coffee at times and i occasionally have a beer, but more often wine. All these things i do mildly compared to my overall diet of meat, veggies, nuts and fruit. I stay lean and in shape and during this last trip to Bali for 12 days, i didn’t add an ounce of weight. I can see i am a little more turgid around the waist and this is likely from having more beer and wine than i normally have at home. It is likely to dissipate in a matter of days too.
The key to all this is to let yourself still enjoy not so good things (20%), but MOST of the time (80%), be good to yourself by making good food choices during the main meal times. Snacking is hard when away – i tend to eat nuts or fibrous fruit at home. But during this trip i had a daily nibble of peanuts or corn chips which were available at the hotel. I just didn’t eat a whole packet and often drank water with it and swam it off in the pool. Some days, i went without because we ate breakfast late and so everything moved over a bit in the day. However, when you eat isn’t so important; but what you eat is.