Clean Eating on Vacation

On the way to enjoy a weekend getaway and thinking in order to enjoy yourself, you’ve got to throw caution to the wind with your healthy eating habits?

Say goodbye to diet and deprivation and hello to enjoyable eating.

Even those of us who consider ourselves to be foodies ( and yes, I’m included in this group ) can take advantage of local cuisine when traveling, even internationally, if we just incorporate a tad of mindfulness into our choices.

Below are my top five tips to keep on point when you’re traveling to ensure you’re not missing out on anything while simultaneously not running the risk of returning home with any extra pounds.


If you don’t know what’s on the menu, it’s pretty hard to order.   Even more so when you’re in a foreign country with flavors that may be completely new to you.   Taking a mere thirty minutes before you take off to learn a little about what authentic dishes you’ll be privy to, once you arrive at your destination is all you need to be able to determine what your personal best options will be.   If you’re like me and gluten-free is a must do, it’s easy to learn which items on a typical menu at the country you’re visiting are going to be no-gos.   Why risk GI discomfort and a migraine after getting accidentally glutened because you didn’t realize that fattoush was a salad made from bread?  Do your homework and go for the dishes that are naturally free of inflammatory foods.   Psst- it’s easier than you might think in many places; sadly, here in the US, we have a lot more to dig into in terms of finding hidden junk in our foods versus countries who are still eating real, fresh food as their mainstay!


Once you’ve learned a little about the cuisine you’re about to enjoy, dig a little deeper and see what some of the signature dishes are that you can plan to sink your teeth into.    You’d be surprised at how easy it is to eat a meal comprised of local, in season veggies, fats and proteins when traveling.    How about grilled wild branzino with sautéed, garlicky spinach when you’re traveling in Sicily?  Or one of my favorites, ceviche prepared with locally caught whitefish in coastal Mexico?  Doesn’t sound like a diet to me!


One of the things I find most helpful when working with clients is to encourage them to test out what foods they may want to enjoy on occasion which will not cause undue stress in the aftermath.    Then, simply balance it into your macro nutrients for a failsafe plan allowing you to enjoy without repercussion.    If you already know that dairy makes you feel congested and causes a break out, why choose hand churned ice cream?   Go for sorbet instead.    After a meal rich in nutrient dense veggies and fat, the sugar from the sorbet will have a far less impact on the glycemic load.  Simply omit fruit earlier in the day to factor into the sugar you would have gotten and you’ll be right on point.  Better yet, add a piece of 100% chocolate, rich in antioxidants  and voila – you’ve got a decadent dessert planned.


Even if you’re staying at an all inclusive, it’s sometimes worth the trek to head into the surrounding local villages to try out some seriously authentic meals, prepared by the locals.   One client mentioned his favorite meal of all during his trip to Mexico was one prepared in an ad-hoc food stand on a farm he visited, using a wheelbarrow as a fire, preparing grilled veggies and pork from that very farm.   Talk about a low carbon footprint! 


There’s room for coffee, there’s room for chocolate and yes, there is room for alcohol.   While it might not rank on the top five list of things to consume each day, having a drink can be a part of a ritual, a ceremony or simply the compliment to a meal to end a long day.  The key is to choose wisely.  While a glass of wine may be the choice for some, a neat spirit can also be the way to go.   For years, I enjoyed a glass of Cab with dinner several nights per week, but over the past few years, have grown to enjoy a neat, grain free vodka or mezcal in its proxy.   Just remember what your mom told you; two glasses of water for every drink.  That, plus a delicious meal with ample fat and veg will create a lovely meal without worry of waking with a college-type hangover.

One must-have item to take with you for just in case: activated charcoal.   It could save the day if you accidentally ingest a mouthful of tap water when brushing your teeth, if you’re staying in an area where drinking local water isn’t recommended!

A small amount of planning in advance can be all it takes to have a fully immersed vacation without coming back from vacation feeling like you need a detox.

If you don’t add inflammatory, gut-busters into the mix in the first place, there’s nothing to detox!