Eating Right on the Road…Literally On the Road

This morning, as Chris, my husband, and I, packed up and left our charming little villa in Venice where we’d spent the last three nights to make the journey first to the main land, then by car to Austria, I wondered what was in store for us in terms of dining options along the way.

Being that we’re both preparing for the race, and rather fat adapted already, it wasn’t that we were in need of large amounts of food all day long. 

Rather, we simply wanted to ensure that sometime during the leisurely journey by boat, then car, we’d have some sort of combination of fresh, local veg and protein to keep us fueled and focused.

We began the day as we do any day, whether training or not, with a few tall glasses of lemon water and later, a black coffee which, by the way, in Italy, is quite divine.

Once we picked up the rental car from the airport, we figured we’d hit the road for a stretch and once we happened upon something interesting, pull over for a nice lunch and a roadside cafe.

Around 1130 or so, we pulled off to what appeared to be the Italian equivalent of a roadside rest stop.  

I completely expected something along the lines of what I’m familiar with at home, which anyone who’s done a road trip in the US would identify with: greasy, fried food on conveyor belts, loads of candy, cookie and chip items and every and any sugary soft drink you could imagine.

Was I in for a surprise!

While all of the above was present, so, too was a fresh salad bar, and a selection of hot entrees including roast chicken, grilled peppers doused in olive oil, escarole prepared in garlic and more olive oil and a wide range of fresh, local fruit for those who may have wanted something a tad sweet with having to resort to candy.

Together, we paid a total of less than €35 and it was delicious, delectable and gave us the perfect amount of fat, protein and plenty of veg to make us feel right at home, as if we were eating food I’d prepared in my own kitchen.

And although I was very excited about our find, at the same time, it saddened me to think of the poor quality of our ‘food’ system in the US.

How it’s an industry focused on the bottom line, more than anything else.

How the overriding thought is that it’s got to be a choice between eating food that tastes good and is satisfying or healthy, and that the same food cannot be one and the same and how much of a role all this plays in what people eat while they are on vacation.

So many people find themselves on that awful diet roller coaster and one main reason at this time of year is to prepare for vacation.  

The Huffington Post reports that 36 percent of Americans try to lose weight before they go on vacation and a third of all travelers find they have to start a diet when they return from their trip.

Further, 29 percent of those surveyed say they always or often gain weight while traveling1.

Imagine if all these people knew that if they just ate the right foods in the first place, they’d lose weight that would stay off, not compromising their metabolism in the process and enjoying delicious cuisine all the while?

Over the years, I change my approach to working with clients as well as how I write and approach nutrition in general and while I don’t feel as black and white about things as I did before (only inasmuch as I know see how coming across as too in-your-face Paleo can frighten people), I still feel there are some things that apply to everyone, across the board:

  • Most of us would be better off not relying on carbohydrate as our primary fuel source, and becoming better fat adapted regardless of age, gender and status of being an athlete or not2.
  • We can probably all do with upping the fresh veggies.
  • We can all completely ditch the white sugar.
  • Gluten isn’t good for anyone3.
  • Most of us can do with moving a bit more.
  • Eating more good fat and less carbohydrates can help with better energy level, weight loss, sleep, exercise performance and many other health benefits.

Yes, I do still believe a Paleo approach would behoove most of us, but even if you’re someone who opts to have some grass fed butter in their coffee or eat hummus with carrots, I still think you’re way ahead of the game than both someone who follows the Standard American Special as well as a Faux Paleo approach where you’re eating ‘Paleo’ bars, cookies, pancakes and pasta each day (psst- that’s not Paleo).

Ah, I’ve gone and done it again…gone off on a tangent about eating and the state of food in the US, but going back to the point:

Keep it simple: when you travel, just as when you’re at home, go with fresh, local veggies, humanely sourced proteins and ample amounts of the right fats and see if you don’t find yourself naturally more satiated with that annoying number on the scale creeping downward without all the stress of weighing, measuring and counting.

And imagine the day when you go on vacation already at the weight you want to be at because it’s what you’re at all year round, knowing you won’t go off track while you’re away because you simply feel too great eating well and moving.

And there is no reason not to let any of that go, no matter where your travels may take you.

  1. Bratskeir, Kate. “Worried About Vacation Weight Gain? You’re Not Alone.” The Huffington Post., n.d. Web. 26 Aug. 2015.
  2. Volek, Jeff, Stephen D. Phinney, Eric Kossoff, Jacqueline A. Eberstein, and Jimmy Moore. The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living: An Expert Guide to Making the Life-saving Benefits of Carbohydrate Restriction Sustainable and Enjoyable. Lexington, KY: Beyond Obesity, 2011. Print.
  3. Cordain, Loren. The Paleo Diet: Lose Weight and Get Healthy by Eating the Foods You Were Designed to Eat. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2011. Prin