Top tips to stay as consistent with diet (as you like) while traveling

“People who love to eat are always the best people.”
-Julia Child

I love to eat- I always have, and always will. Even with my history of portioned food plates as a kid so food wouldn’t touch, and being a bit of a late bloomer in trying certain foods (guess who used to poke avocado out of california rolls til I was 19? Now I buy avocados by the bag!), I love food. Yet in knowing this, I’ve tried so many different diets and ways to manipulate food to reach my health goals, unsure if it would really work (but it worked for others, so there’s some hope), and each time I never liked being restricted. There is something about being told to restrict or adjust portions that doesn’t feel good, kind of like depriving, a type of helplessness. Then add in traveling, where your choices can become even more limited, and soon eating becomes more of a chore than a joy.

This past week I was speaking at a conference in Portland, Oregon all about weight and hormones, where a good chunk of my presentation was about all the different diets. Kind of a paradox too how obesity has tripled even with all these types of diets. While waiting for my friend to arrive, I wound up talking to this person, who was there with some friends, and as we learned why the other was there, some questions arose:

  • “The keto diet has worked great, but it’s not working anymore- I can’t keep it up when I travel, and don’t really want to.”

  • “Oh but food is always so good when you go out to eat, there’s no way to be on a diet.”

  • “How do I stay in shape when I travel? There’s no time.”

  • “Sleep?? I know it’s important but if you’re crossing time zones, always on the go, then your sleep is going to be messed up. Forget that.”

They knew each other from the military, traveled across time zones to meet, and even in their day to day life should they be busy or traveling, don't find it particularly easy to keep up with any of these diets for a sustainable amount of time (aka after they get the results). In fact, diet in Latin is diata- meaning ‘way of life.’ One of the main reasons the Mediterranean diet has been so successful and well studied in achieving so many health goals is that it also promotes our nature as social beings. Sitting down to eat with people we enjoy, relaxing and savoring our food, taking in the different flavors and textures, and these are food items that we can pronounce. Quite a contrast from eating on the go, a ‘quick bite’, packaged snack, snacking throughout the day, and a million things going through your head as you want to stay on schedule. Phew!

While it may take a little extra effort beforehand (it can be done), there are so many strategies to enjoy food on your vacation without worrying if your clothes are still going to fit post vacation:

  • Why do you have your health goal- Not the picture in the magazine, or because your friend/spouse/family says you ‘need’ to do this, but your deep down, non-negotiable reason for being alive. What foods will get you close to your health goal? What foods won’t? A general rule is aiming for the foods that do 85% of the time, and all the time eat until you’re about 80% full. There’s always some sort of option for grilled protein and vegetables, even if it’s a dish and you order a side of mixed veggies. If you’re unsure of how to spread out that 15%, maybe it’s a little every day where something comes up on the menu you really want to try. Go for it! Ultimately, there is no right or wrong, it’s all information and your choice. No diet will give you that permission, but turning inwards to listen to yourself can sometimes be even more unnerving than wondering if that extra bite will put on 5 pounds (it won’t).

  • How to fit in exercise- Does the hotel have an exercise facility? Is there one nearby? Sometimes hotels partner with nearby gyms and have free passes. Is there hiking or other forms of physical activities in the area? Consider groupon or living social too for deals on activities like yoga, pilates, cross-fit, or other types of workouts, as sometimes gyms require you to have an in-state license for a free trial. There’s also apps that have different timed workouts- I’d recommend one for 30 minutes, usually something you can do in your room where you can break a sweat. If I was walking a lot, sometimes I used to pack ankle weights with me.

  • Beat jet lag and get energized anywhere- Sleep kills our cravings, helps manage or helps us lose weight, gives us energy, and can be a legit hindrance if we’re not losing the weight we feel (especially if it’s around our abdomen). Yet planes, schedules in a new place, potential time zones, and wanting to go everywhere all at once can make sleep seem like a chore! Adequate sleep secretes hormones that help dull our appetite- aka it’s going to make it a little easier to savor & enjoy your food without inhaling a whole plate and feeling lethargic after. Even if you’re crossing time zones, consider that you may need a nap at some point- many studies have shown even a 15-30 minute power nap can do wonders to reset our system. Adjust as quickly as you can to the new time zone in waking up and going to sleep, and ultimately listen to your body. And drink at least 75 ounces of water per day to stay hydrated especially post plane ride and hunger signals at bay.

Whether we go across the country or across the world, or not too far from home, when we leave our home we are generally pulled outside of our element and our routine, the one we know we feel good with- or put it on the back burner if at home things aren’t super fantastic and use travel as an excuse to eat or drink anything and everything. This back and forth can also make going home not seem as fun because it’s a place where we can ‘diet’ and ‘watch it.’ In contrast, if it’s part of a lifestyle, we can love and enjoy food wherever we are! Doesn’t that sound fun?! A few moments of planning ahead to get a sense of restaurants, exercise facilities, what non-perishables you can bring as snacks- super easy! In fact, I can help you add some additional strategies in too! So, where’s your next travel destination? :)