If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, or “Like” me on Facebook, you know that I just got back from vacation. What you may not know, is that this was my first vacation in nearly 5 years. Apart from touring back in my acting days, I haven’t left the Greater Toronto Area for more than 24 hours in that long, either. It was time for a holiday.
One of the things that struck me the most about travelling this time around, is how much easier it is to travel without an eating disorder. I remember taking trips panicking about whether the hotel gym would still be open by the time we got there, and whether I could get to a Starbucks easily, and how I was supposed to eat without my own kitchen!?
No matter what your fears are, or what issues you have with food, here are some of my best tips for making vacation eating easier for you:
1. Breathe. You can do this. It’s just a vacation: you don’t have to do this forever. I know it isn’t easy, but you’ll have so much more fun if you relax.
2. Talk about it. If you can get your anxieties out there on the table with a trusted travel buddy, it’ll be easier to make a plan of attack and not feel as alone when the fears creep up. Chances are, other people you’re travelling with have some food insecurities of their own that they’d like to chat about, and you can help each other to deal.
3. Pack a few favorites. While you should DEFINITELY try new things while you’re in a strange land, it helps to ease the anxiety knowing that you’ve got a favorite snack bar or cereal or whatever tucked away for emergencies.
4. Try new things. Don’t go to Italy and make a beeline for the nearest MacDonald’s. There are SO many great food options out there! Give a new city a chance before you run for the familiar. Try something ethnic, try something new, just try something! Sometimes the small places have the best, freshest, most “home-made” foods out there. Besides, it’s good for your body to learn how to process a variety of foods. Give it a challenge!
5. Find a market. Fresh fruit and veg aren’t always abundant in restaurant meals. Find a market where you can grab some fruit and nuts, or hummus and veg for a snack, or some fresh berries to make a breakfast smoothie (everyone travels with a small blender, yes? No? Just me?). Often, there are vendors selling AMAZING meals that you can grab and go.
6. Be flexible. If you spend all your time trying to find the perfect thing to eat, you’re going to miss everything else that’s going on. Find a place to dine, and jump on in! You may have to relax some rules to make it work: my body isn’t super fond of dairy, but sometimes it was the only protein available, and I enjoyed every bite.
7. Probiotics. Travelling can really mess with your digestive system. Probiotics can help keep things moving naturally. Choose foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, and kombucha for a hit of the good stuff, or buy temperature-stable probiotic pills to travel with.
8. Balance – as best you can. Try to get enough fruit and veg, protein, whole grains, and good fats as you can while you’re away, but don’t stress if it isn’t always possible. One vacation isn’t going to make or break you – it’s okay!
It’s hard to relax sometimes, but it’s SO worth it! If you can learn to relax a bit around food, you’ll be able to relax a whole lot more on your vacation. That’s what a vacation is for, yes?
What are your biggest food fears when travelling, and what are your best (healthy) ways of coping?