Q: How do I eat well when on vacation with lots of social situations?
A: Hey hi! Thank you for writing in. Healthy eating and lifestyle rhythm on the road can be quite tricky, though perhaps the noblest of practices for the free spirited wanderers.
Because here’s the thing, when traveling, there is a lot that is outside of our ‘control’. And isn’t that the fun of it? To immerse into the lives of new communities and take in the sights and sounds. To tap into different rhythms?
It is ultimately these experiences that enrich and inspire our lives back home. And often the most enriching parts of travel experiences away from home can be the challenging moments. The stories of adventure outside of comfort and convenience. So wherever you are, be sure to savor the experiences. Breathe in the adventure.
That said, travel can be ungrounding and throw off our digestive and circadian rhythms. I know when I travel, I’m prone to experience a bit a digestive err… back up, unless I’m diligent about healthy eating and rhythm. And when we’re in social gatherings, outside of our comfort zone and perhaps relying on the hospitality of others who may not share our preferences and values around food, it surely can get tricky. So here are my top 8 tips for travel:
Greens & Water
Eat at least one green thing a day, ideally a sauteed green, to help keep your digestive system happy and regular.
Find a green veggie cooked in healthy amounts of olive oil (garlic, lemon) as oposed to raw greens because they are much more soothing and easily digestible. And safer of course in some countries when the quality of water used to wash produce can be precarious. *AND* did you know that most of the nutrients in greens are fat soluble? Which means that you need healthy amounts of fat present in the digestive process for your body to absorb the nutrients.
Pack some back up… greens. Enter Chlorophyll.
Yup, you heard me right, as in the green pigment that allows plants to absorb energy from light during photosynthesis. I’m not a big supplement person, but I typically pack liquid chlorophyll for the road. It’s like concentrated greens, living breathing oxygen in your bloodstream in the event that you don’t get in enough fresh greens and veggies for the day. Simply dilute in a tall glass of water and drink, ideally on an empty stomach.
Plenty of it. This may sound obvious but it’s crucial to stay hydrated on the road. I recommend a glass of hot water (no lemon, no cayenne, no honey, no tea, just hot water) first thing to start your morning and warm up your digestive system. Then transition to room temp water throughout the day between meals. If you are drinking alcohol, try to drink one glass of water in between each alcoholic drink. Your liver will thank you.
Rhythm & Self Care
Tend to your rhythm.
Our digestive systems are *highly* emotional and need rhythm, structure and routine – like puppies and babies – so they don’t act up. One of the best ways to attend to digestive rhythm is by keeping up with your regular morning and evening rituals, say like a short meditation practice, stretching, and walks. This will help your body reorient in time and space, and put your system at ease for increased vitality and optimal function.
Tea and walk after meals.
It’s very Old World isn’t it? And what a fine ancestral tradition indeed. After meals enjoy some tea as a digestive aid and encourage your travel partners and hosts to join you for walks move things along. And see the sights and sounds. And kindle the connection.
Gathering & Connection
As a traveler, I’ll never, ever, ever turn down the offer of a homecooked meal. It’s the truest offering of hospitality and generosity. And food made with love has a nourishing energetic quality to it that simply cannot be replicated outside of the home. Be flexible and try dishes outside of your comfort zone. Make exceptions for food made with love. That said…
Speak up! Communicate your dietary needs.
I certainly have eating restrictions. I don’t eat pork, perhaps one of the more significant ways I identify as a Muslim. That’s a non-negotiable. I have sensitivies to sesame- not a full blown allergy, but enough to itch and scratch in my throat and make things unpleasant. If you have similar dietary restrictions due to allegies or religious observance, speak up so your hosts can accommodate you and provide options. And they will. So don’t apologize or shrink. Be gracious, but don;t people pleasing at your expense.
Fill up on conversation, not indulgences.
Food and libations are powerful vehicles to gather people in intentional community. Savor it. And while people tend to gather over booze and comfort food, remember that you are there to connect with community. Keeping mindful connection at the forefront will help you avoid the pitfalls of mindless eating. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy vino, a good cheese platter, and desserts like anyone else. I’ll stick to one small plate of cheese and other apps before a meal. After a meal, typically stick to one dessert. And otherwise, I’ll do my tend to the soul nourishing human connection.