I can’t remember how many blog articles and magazine pieces I have read on how easy it is to eat healthily whilst travelling these days. Time after time a shiny-healthy eating guru will preach about how simple it is to pick up some fruit and veg at the local market and whip it up into a fresh and nutritious dinner for you and all your friends.
But I think that it’s about time that we all called bullshit on this whole charade. Of course…it is possible to eat healthily and it’s probably easier for me, than when my parents went on holiday in their 20’s, to pick up a smoothie or salad from a local supermarket. But keeping to a good food routine on holiday is still fraught with difficulties and I think we should just be honest about it.
“nothing can prepare you for the amount of alcohol your friends, family and work colleagues want to drink when they aren’t sleeping in their own house”
Every holiday is different, from the solo gap year trips to the family holidays, where you can’t even agree what time to wake up, let alone what food you’re eating. So I’ve compiled some of the key areas of tension that have popped up when I’m away from home.
- Group travelling. Nobody wants to be the difficult one right? The one who makes the whole group carry on walking when you’ve already perused and rejected the menus of 20 restaurants which each looked as disgusting as the last. Your friends, and your dad no doubt, have no idea why you are craving something green and aren’t really interested in the beige nourishment on offer in so many eateries in the centre of European biggest cities. So you say – ‘it’s fine’, I can find something on the menu, even if it’s just one ingredient off the plate that I am presented. And don’t even get me started on trying to explain vegetarian or gluten free to an Italian waiter!
- “Don’t eat out” I hear you saying. Sure…you try pleasing a group of people with random food tastes and different ideas about what is an appropriate amount of money to spend on food and then throw in foreign supermarkets. And let’s be honest, when you’re trying to eat healthily, flavour and seasoning is KEY. But surprisingly, unless you didn’t bring ay clothes, there isn’t room in your suitcase for cumin, paprika, your pestle and mortar and a juicer. So plain spaghetti and beer it is…again…might as well have eaten out.
- Snacking. Now this is where it should get easier right? You have some amount of control over the little packets of things which you can consume between the meals that you can’t/don’t really want to eat. I set out for a 2 week work trip a while back thinking ‘It’s ok…I’ll just skip the cake and pastry and chips and I’ll sit in the corner and eat brazil nuts.’ It was a sweet idea. It lasted 2 days. Maybe Miranda Kerr can survive on greens powder and goji berries BUT I DAMN WELL CAN’T.
- Alcohol. Even if you manage, by some grace of God, to navigate the food situation, nothing can prepare you for the amount of alcohol your friends, family and work colleagues want to drink when they aren’t sleeping in their own house. There are the shared bottles of wine, and the bulk beer buying – which you’re paying for anyway – so if the temptation of a glass of vino doesn’t get you the necessity of getting your money’s worth will. And once you’ve had one glass, what’s one more right…
But in the end, when it comes down to it, when you’re on holiday or away on a work trip and everyone else is indulging themselves, spaghetti carbonara and ice cream just look too yummy. It doesn’t matter how much water you drink and meditating you do, when the food around you looks delicious and everyone else is enjoying it, it is just too difficult to choose the sad looking salad on the menu. It might not be the best for you, but travelling is frankly pretty difficult without arguments about food. So take your tablets and vitamins, drink plenty of water and just do your best. And when you land you can go back to your own kitchen and you can down the nearest smoothie and super food salad available.