It’s summer time. The sun shines a little brighter, work chatter turns into dreaming up your next vacation, and before you know it that Vitamin D is sinking in a little more. Cue all the smiles. BUT how many times have these warm, sunshine-y vibes turned quickly into that familiar, diet cycle dread?
This May I was lucky enough to start the season off with a pre-summer vacation. I spent one incredible week among thirty other women in the jungles of Costa Rica. From ages 22 to 76, we spent our time moving our bodies, finding peace in our minds, and enjoying each other and ourselves. I mean, I can’t explain it, but at one point I was somehow convinced to be covered from head to toe in coffee and chocolate. [Self care and body trust at its finest, people].
Now picture this: within 12 hours of being back in Massachusetts I’m off again, but this time to Portland, Maine for a dear friend’s Bachelorette party [several cases of booze in tow]. No more banana-tree-outside-my-window vibes. No more get-a-massage-in-the-jungle vibes. Instead we were carrying more of a dance-‘til-2am vibe. Don’t get me wrong, there’s absolutely nothing like being surrounded by childhood friends, tearing up and feeling nostalgic, or laughing ‘til your abs are sore. Four days later I returned home, sleep deprived but fully content.
Back to reality, right? Time to detox, start making salads for lunch every day? WRONG. I was so satisfied, refueled, and rejuvenated after my vacation that it got me thinking – not everyone feels that way upon their return home. So often I hear, “ugh, time to start over this week,” or “this calls for extra time at the gym – gotta burn off that vacation food.” In lieu of ever considering this an option, I decided to think of my top five suggestions when it comes to eating on vacation this summer, and share them of course!
- Remember the basics
Food and nutrition can be simple. Knowing the basics around food groups – carbs, protein, fat, and fiber – can easily find its way into any dining situation. Want to still feel your best energetically while away from your normal routine? Try being mindful of basic food balance and you are sure to feel ‘right at home.’
2. Balance WILL happen
Speaking of balance, there is no mandatory requirement for getting your food groups into every meal, or every day for that matter. Maybe you had mostly carbs today? That’s fine! Haven’t seen a veggie since last week? You’ll live! Balance will happen. It. Is. Okay. If we are listening, we’ll find that our bodies have magical ways of guiding us toward balance again. After nights of Doritos and Mozzarella sticks, I had a hankering for some fresh produce. And after consuming more alcohol than usual, I had a thirst for water like none other [yes, hydration is important].
3. Try new things
Trying new things is unfamiliar – scary even! But just like saying ‘yes’ to that new spa treatment [guys, chocolate and coffee, I’m telling you] you’ll never know how good it can get. A lot of the foods in Costa Rica were assumed staple items – fish, chicken, rice, beans – but some of it was totally unheard of for some people. Ask me about the women who tried fresh plantain chips for the first time! Well worth it. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, explore, and take opportunities to learn more about yourself and your preferences.
4. Allow it to be different
So often people identify their eating habits while on vacation as different than their norm. As we frequently use vacation as an excuse to finally practice some self care [cough, poor excuse], this leads us right into the mindset of vacation and everything involved being special or unexpected. So? You have two choices, find a routine within your time off – something predictable and comfortable – OR allow it to be different. Know that different does not mean bad, and as mentioned, balance will come.
5. Eat with emotion!
Guess what? JOY is an emotion. Vacation feels great for so many reasons. Let one of those reasons be that you are enjoying yourself! Whether that means finding a quiet space to be mindful over a fresh Costa Rican smoothie, testing a bit of everything on the buffet, carrying M&M’s to the bar mid-day [because, I mean, chocolate], or crying tears of laughter over a beer and a pretzel, never be scared to bring emotions to the table.
Last but not least, a word to the wise on vacation eating [and drinking]: Pedialyte and Pizza Rolls. You’re welcome.