Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Vacation Food Dilemma

Ohdeedoh is featuring the sweetest little guide on how to make a "budget" vacation special, and I normally wouldn't think to share something like this, but this little gem of advice caught my eye:
Splurge on food. You might think a good way to save is to eat hotdogs and Fritos for the whole trip. Don't do that. You should come home from a vacation feeling physically better than when you left. If your kids are picky eaters, this is a great time to introduce new foods as part of the adventure. If your kids are pretty good eaters, then now is the time to push the envelope. At the cabin where we stayed last summer, a gourmet 4 course dinner was included with the lodging. Holy Walleye en Papillote, I told you it was heavenly. A year later and my kids still talk about the palate cleansing sorbet like it was magical elf food from Lord of the Rings. Plus, if you're doing dishes each night, what kind of vacation is that?

This is the line that hit me, and it's amazing to me that it's something I've never really considered before. "You should come home from a vacation feeling physically better than when you left." My mind is blown.

I'm still at the point in my venture into healthy eating that "vacation" for me also means a vacation from having to work hard to figure out fresh, low carb, balanced meals everywhere I go and a chance to go crazy and eat whatever the hell I want. And even though I sort of philosophically agree with the notion that "vacation calories don't count", I don't think I have ever come back from a vacation feeling physically better than when I left. I usually come home feeling in need of recovery.

So my question is this. What's the best way to negotiate that in-the-moment desire to eat something delicious-but-really-bad-for-you while on vacation with the knowledge that it will make you feel crappy, thus keeping you from truly enjoying the non-food aspects of your trip? While this question might sound like a no-brainer to people who don't care much about food, for me, the food wins out nine times out of ten. It's easier at home, but when I'm out enjoying myself, I still haven't shaken that feeling that sugary, starchy food in mass quantities is a crucial component of my good time. When I scrapbook my vacations, pictures of the food and of my friends and me eating usually take center stage. And scrapbooking healthy food does NOT excite me. I mean, if you replaced my fried cheese with a celery stick, would it look as cool?



plumpdumpling said...

The answer here is obviously moving to NYC. When I visit you in Ohio, even when we decide to eat mostly low-carb, as we did for the 4th of July, you have such a diverse set of tools available to you that everything is new and exciting to me. Even the chicken marsala at Olive Garden is a treat because while we do have two Olive Gardens in Manhattan, of course everyone is too against chain restaurants here to actually go with me. I still think about that peanut butter pie you made for us . . . and the orange cheesecake . . . and the muffins . . . and the pizzas . . . and everything else.

I know it's stupid, but I really wish we could remember that manta "a moment on the lips; a lifetime on the hips", because it really is true. When I come back to NYC, it's not all of the bad things I've eaten while visiting you that I remember; it's the cool stuff we did together, the relaxing time we had together, and the cool low-carb treats you introduced me to.

Tracey said...

If I moved to NYC, who would cook us low carb treats when we came home?

Maybe the answer is that I need you to come home more often. It's hard to get excited about trying new low carb recipes when I'm the only one eating the food. And as long as I'm not excited about cooking, I'm more likely to just give up and eat junk.

Maybe I just need a mindset change when it comes to the cool factor of healthy food versus junk. Right now, something just feels way more exciting about eating a DQ Frozen Hot Chocolate every day that you're here, while everything about unbreaded chicken and broccoli at restaurants seems super boring.