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Healthy Vacation Tips

August 6, 2010 Written by JP       [Font too small?]

Traveling can be be a lot of fun but it can also be challenging if you’re on a prescribed diet or wellness routine. Mrs. Healthy Fellow and I were reminded of this when we spent this past July in Martha’s Vineyard. Today I’m going tell you about a few of the strategies we personally employed and also give you an idea about what kinds of foods we ate while away from home. If we can manage to stay true to our health objectives while on the road, so can you.

In preparation for our trip, we purchased some unique food items that are often hard to find in more remote areas and smaller towns. On our short list were a few loaves of Julian Bakery low carbohydrate bread, Nature’s Hollow sugar-free fruit preserves and a package of almond flour. The almond flour may sound like an odd choice. But we had the luxury of staying at a friend’s home which allowed us access to a full kitchen where baking and cooking was possible. All of these supplies and a few others were placed in a carefully packaged box and sent ahead of our arrival. They were waiting for us upon landing in our home away from home on the island of Chappaquiddick.

Unlike some vacationers, we had the added advantage of having visited Martha’s Vineyard in the past. So we knew that one of the first stops we wanted to make was to a local farm and market by the name of Morning Glory Farm – a 50 acre, family-owned oasis that’s been a vital part of Edgartown for over 35 years. There we could pick up plenty of fresh produce and a variety of wholesome foods and snacks of a perishable nature. On the top of my list was organic cottage cheese, raw pecans and walnuts. Why? Because I knew that these ingredients, along with the sugar-free fruit preserves would make for a nutritious, quick and satisfying breakfast on the go. Organic cottage cheese is an abundant source of health-enhancing probiotics and protein. Pecans and walnuts provide essential nutrients such as magnesium, potassium and zinc. They’re also an excellent tool for helping to manage appetite. When these super foods are combined with the fruit preserves, it creates a crunchy, sweet-and-sour one bowl breakfast. It’s one of my favorites. (1,2,3,4)

In the daytime we spent much of our time on the road. One of our more memorable stops was lunch at State Road Restaurant in Vineyard Haven. The entrance to this warm establishment leads you through a lovely herb and vegetable garden. This sets the scene for what you’ll find inside – a warm and inviting eatery with unpretentious food of the highest caliber for a reasonable price. Both Mrs. Healthy Fellow and I chose the local rainbow trout which came with fresh greens from the outdoor garden, a light vinaigrette and preserved lemon rind. To be honest, we selected this dish because we thought it would be “good for us”. We were pleasantly surprised by how this seemingly simple meal was able to pack so much flavor and satisfaction. To drink, I chose a sun-brewed iced tea. This was a calculated choice. Unsweetened black tea can be a best friend for travelers the world ’round. Recent studies show that black tea consumption is capable of lowering exercise-induced inflammation, systemic oxidative damage and may even help manage weight by limiting the amount of fat that is digested from meals. (5,6,7,8)

Black Tea May Improve Exercise Recovery
Source: J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2010; 7: 11. (link)

Toward the end of our trip we ventured up to Oak Bluffs for a parting dinner at a friend’s restaurant, The Sidecar Cafe and Bar. Unlike Chappaquiddick and Vineyard Haven, Oak’s Bluff tends to be a busier, more rollicking area of Martha’s Vineyard. But there are pockets of calm and culinary delight to be found. One of the first things we noticed upon walking in The Sidecar was a blackboard list of featured local farms and their respective products – calendula & vidalia onions from Old Town Farm; dragon and kaleidoscope carrots from Breezy Pine Farm and nasturtiums from Big House Farms among others. We enjoyed a hearty, low-carb meal that started out with a fresh mozzarella, basil and baby heirloom tomato salad. Our main course was deliciously tender braised short ribs, accompanied by sweet potato puree and rainbow chard. We requested extra chard in place of the sweet potatoes, more in line with our dietary plan, which doesn’t include starchy vegetables. The chef had no problem making the substitution at all. This is a strategy we frequently call upon with great success when dining out. As a special treat, our server brought us a side-order of a locally grown vegetable known as dragon tongue beans, as well as a sample of a fresh, chilled cucumber soup. These were unexpected and flavorful additions to the meal which was rounded out with a glass of red wine.

Before moving on, I want give proper respect to the delectable but under utilized rainbow chard that we both enjoyed immensely. This green leafy vegetable is a real prize in terms of its nutrient density. It’s extremely low in calories, but uncommonly rich in valuable nutrients including pro-vitamin A (beta carotene) and Vitamin K. The deep, rich colors associated with it also harbor potent carotenoids and flavonoids which may protect the body from a number of health risks ranging for breast cancer to memory loss. I highly recommend that virtually everyone eat more of these green leafy superstars. (9,10,11,12)

After reading all of this, you might assume that we traveled back home lugging a few extra pounds. The reality is that we ended up losing about 10 pounds combined while eating amazingly flavorful food, but sticking to our low-carb plan. The weight loss just happened as a natural consequence of eating healthfully while increasing our physical activity. You see, our trip was a combination of business and pleasure. Both of which entailed a fair share of hiking, swimming and walking while in the accompany of a very active 5 year old. This significant shift in activity made a substantive difference in our weight. It also reminded us of the importance of staying active and enjoying more of the natural beauty that surrounds us. Even while at home, it’s possible to eat more locally-grown food and make the most of the natural habitat. That’s what we plan to do now that we’re back home, thousands of miles away from our beloved “Chappy”.

Be well!

JP

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9 Comments & Updates to “Healthy Vacation Tips”

  1. Nina K. Says:

    Good morning, JP :-)

    i sea you both had a very good time :-) . i hope, that we can stick on our low carb plan too on our summer holiday. i think it will be a challenge ;-)

    wish you both a wonderful funny and relaxing weekend, read us ..after a weekendbreak ;-)

    Nina K.

  2. JP Says:

    Good day, Nina!

    Vacations can be challenging indeed. It’s a balancing act and a question of personal choice, IMO.

    An example: Several years ago we visited Italy. At that time, we couldn’t imagine not sampling some of the delectable baked goods and pastas there. So we did. That was our mind set at that time.

    A more recent example: My wife was on a business trip in Paris last year. She stuck to her LC program 100% – even with all the culinary temptations that France has to offer!

    Specific goals + mind set = action. That’s the lesson we’ve learned.

    But even if you decide to enjoy some special treats, just make sure to have a plan to get back to your healthier lifestyle soon thereafter. Upping your activity level helps compensate for less than ideal food choice in the short term as well. :)

    Most important of all … have lots of fun and be safe in your travels! Food is only one part of life! ;)

    Be well!

    JP

  3. Mark S Says:

    Wonderful effort and the vacation sounded delightful. Our cruise in September will be a challenge, but our last cruise resulted in maybe a pound of extra weight brought back home. I made intense use of the ship’s exercise facilities and plan to do the same this time around. The food choices on a cruise are crazy.

    I keep reading on the extra goodness of chard and I’m always in for anything of the leafy variety. I need to get some seed for the garden.

  4. Nina K. Says:

    Good Morning, JP :-)

    you are so right! My “problem” is that im a very slim person (i weigh actually 44kg and im 161 cm tall) so i don’t need low carb for weigh controlling and thats tricky ;-)

    i told you about my way of carb counting and that works wonderfull. if i eat a big carb meal (baked goods etc. ..) i really get a bad mood beacause of the sugarload an my skin reacts with pimples. my hubby experienced that too, independantly from me. after a long time on low carb you can feel that difference.

    i swore myself that this time in vacation i eat a few carbs but i will combine the foods that way that i eat not more than 6 carb units a day, thats more than enough. But the carbs alone are not the problem, i tend to overeat from other foods too ;-) i like choosing from the buffet and i also hate it ;-) but hey im a little bit older and wiser since the last vaccation there so there is a little hope :-)

    Greetings from the far side ☼
    Nina K.

  5. JP Says:

    Mark,

    The only thing better than chard is garden fresh chard. You’re a lucky fellow. :)

    We took a cruise last year, smack-dab in the middle of my weight loss journey, and I was able to stick to my low carb program no problem. I know my approach isn’t for everyone but it just shows that we can all make the rules (for the most part) no matter where we go. And as you noted, the exercise helps a lot too. :)

    I hope you and yours have a great time on the cruise! It’s pretty incredible to be in the middle of the ocean like that. I’d stare off into the mighty blue and just marvel. Truly awe inspiring.

    Be well!

    JP

  6. JP Says:

    I have the feeling you’re going to do “a-okay” on this trip, Nina. This life is all about learning experiences. The more we understand, the more likely we are to improve. That’s my plan at least. :)

    I’ll look forward to hearing about your trip and culinary choices upon your return. Perhaps you can even post a photo or two on Twitter?

    Be well!

    JP

  7. Nina K. Says:

    Good morning, JP :-)

    yep, i will do. i love taking pics from everything ;-) , but for now i just have to learn how to post a pic on twitter ;-)

    Stay healthy and happy ☼
    Nina K.

  8. Iggy Dalrymple Says:

    Tip #1- Don’t drink the water.

    Tip #2- Stay hydrated.

  9. JP Says:

    Sage advice as usual, Iggy. Ha! :)

    That reminds me of some of the teachings in the Tao Te Ching.

    Be well!

    JP

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