Recently, our family of 3 headed to the state of New Hampshire and Massachusetts to see my wife’s brother graduate and to do a short vacation. It was much needed and we enjoyed every moment of our East Coast visit.
Who doesn’t like a vacation?
They build a sense of anticipation as you count down the number of days before leaving and during they provide space to unwind, explore, rest, and push back from commitments and time restraints. They essentially allow us to escape. We enjoyed all of these perks with ONE added challenge…FOOD.
We are a family committed to healthy eating no matter where we are or who we are with. Too many people, use vacation or travel as an excuse to eat poorly.
Many people even gain weight during a week vacation.
Because they have let their minds decide that their mouth needs a break too.
However, we want to challenge you to rethink your typical attitude towards food while vacationing. Most of you know, that we are a gluten-free, dairy-free and try to be a unprocessed sugar-free family. What you don’t know is that 2 weeks before we left for our trip, I got results back from an allergy blood test. I was off the charts in some foods that I already had suspected were an allergy like dairy, but surprisingly, I also was highly allergic to almonds, eggs, sesame seeds, and cranberries. YIKES!
Now some of you may be thinking, “Wow, sucks to be you, but those don’t seem to be too hard to stay away from?” That’s what I thought too until my wife started looking for healthy snacks to pack with us.
Since we were making the 13 hour drive, we didn’t want to rely on fast food or grocery stores to get us through. We wanted to be prepared with plenty of healthy options. My wife turned to one of our favorite resources: Vitacost. If you haven’t checked it out yet, you are definitely missing out. Great variety, amazing prices, and back bending customer service.
Her search began, we needed gluten, dairy, egg, sugar, almond, peanut (she’s sensitive to peanuts), and cranberry free. We found that most products have one or more ingredients we were trying to avoid. But we did find a few.
Here are some snapshots of some of our healthy snacks all of which we packed with us:
We bought a large bag of organic carrots, green beans, and some good ole beef jerky. That bag of green beans was 3/4ths full two days before this picture was taken.
The Applegate lunch meat along with the cherry tomatoes are both items we purchased after arriving to our destination. Kid friendly and no cooking required. Don’t worry the puffs were just for Emma. 😉
Organic Blackberry Bliss were frozen ahead of time and served as great ice packs. We purchased small rice milks because they don’t have to be refrigerated until opened and served as a great size for morning granola.
So what else can you do to Eat Smart while traveling?
7 Tips for Eating on the Road or out of a Hotel:
1. Make a plan. Save money and eliminate frustration.
My wife packed a few cans of tuna, our can opener, vegetable/bean based chips, and dried fruit because these were all foods that we didn’t have to worry about spoiling. Planning ahead will keep you from falling into comprise.
2. Try to get a hotel room with a microwave and refrigerator. Utilize your resources.
If you are riding in the car, pack a cooler and freeze your bottles of water or fruit pouches and use as ice packs. This saves room in your cooler for the food. Using a collapsible cooler is ideal so that you can fit it in your suitcase after you are done with your trip.
3. Pack food that will keep you on track.
Fresh washed vegetables in a air tight ziplock and refrigerate. This will keep vegetables fresher longer. Snack on vegetables on the go rather than chips, fries or candy bars. Also, packing a small plastic container with a lid is perfect for fruits and vegetables that could easily get squished.
4. Skip the fast food joint and hit up the local grocery store or farmer’s market. If it’s cheaper food you can be sure it’s probably cheaper quality.
We were so thankful to have found a local grocery store that had a variety of organics meats, as well as healthy food options that we could all enjoy. One night, our meal was large salads, organic butternut soup and organic fresh sausage! We also picked up gluten free, dairy free, and sugar free chocolate cookies that made for a great alternative when we felt like we needed a little extra sweet. We were stuffed and it cost us about $16. More expensive than the local burger joint…Yes. But really not that pricey for organic “eating out.”
5. Conquer the gas stations and vending machines. Don’t fall into the sugar trap.
These places are loaded with FAKE food. Basically, anything found in these places should be off limits. My wife and I had about 45 minutes to go until we reached our destination and our 17 month old was on the verge of a breakdown. 13 hours in the car she had done amazing but was wanting to be out of her car seat. My wife stopped at the next visitor center and bought a can of apple juice. The only liquid not loaded with added sweeteners, flavors, and colors. We watered it down (more for the sake of it lasting the 45 minute car ride) and it worked. My wife paid $2 compared to the $1.25 for pop but our daughter was able to enjoy something cold and sweet without sending her into a sugar coma.
6. Ask the people that know.
When visiting tourist locations ask the locals for real quality food restaurants to eat at. We found a great seafood diner overlooking the ocean this way. It was the best lobster, mussels, and swordfish we had ever had.
7. Conquering the Airport. Pick your Battles.
On the way home, we flew which was faster and easier but still had it’s challenges. One flight cancelled which led to a longer lay over and 3 hungry bellies. My wife and I were excited when we spotted this all natural healthy eatery. We were quickly disappointed when we realized we wouldn’t be able to eat anything from there. Not dairy or gluten-free…it wasn’t even dairy free or gluten free adaptable. Our two options burgers or pizza. We headed straight for the burger place, I know, not organic, not hormone free but it was protein which we all needed. We kept the burgers bun-less and enjoyed extra heaps of pickles and large tomatoes. It wasn’t ideal, but it was our only option before being on a plane for several hours and we didn’t get sick from cross contamination which is always a concern for us.
All in all, we felt like we had avoided the many pitfalls of unhealthy eating. Instead of feeling like we needed a detox when we got home, we picked up our eating habits right where we left off. We know that eating healthy is better. It takes a little bit more prep but it can be done. In our last layover, Emma was getting hungry so my wife pulled out the last bag of cut celery slices. Emma happily walked around chewing on her prize possession when an older woman replied, “Wow, is that your snack? You have smart parents.” 🙂
Share in the comments below. How have you stayed true to your diet while on vacation?