The Vacation Effect

I am getting back to reality after a fantastic vacation in the Pacific Northwest, where I went to a wedding, traveled down the coast, celebrated and enjoyed time with old and new friends, and family.

I also ate paleo-style. Mostly!

Paleo is new for me, so I am still learning how to find balance when I am not able to control my routine 100%. At home and work, I plan ahead with grocery shopping, and/or I am familiar with the restaurants I choose to visit and know there are good paleo options there.

On vacation, part of the fun is seeing new things, trying new restaurants, visiting friends who serve dinner “their” way (which is not necessarily the paleo way.  My style of being a guest is NOT to impose my dietary preferences.  I might suggest preferences, ONLY if specifically asked.  Luckily for me, I don’t suffer from celiac disease, or diabetes, etc., so a little wheat or sugar is not life threatening for me, it’s only temporarily uncomfortable (now that I have experienced how healthy I can feel without that stuff).

If, like me, you find yourself in Portland, Oregon, at VooDoo Donuts, it’s nigh impossible to avoid at least TRYING the maple bacon donut-bar.  So, I did try it. But, I did not eat the whole thing.

Mostly, I tried to mitigate what I call “The Vacation Effect” as much as possible.

In the past, vacations have meant no-holds-barred eating.  It’s part of a basic travel philosophy:  if you travel in a bubble and don’t sample the local fare, you’re not really getting everything you can out of the travel experience.  You’re short-changing yourself.  This trip (my first post-paleo vacation), I found a little bit of balance eating everything in sight versus carrying all of my own food in a cooler.  I didn’t stay strictly paleo, but I didn’t go crazy either.  Here’s how it went down:

The plane trip:   Planes are not known for gourmet fare, but in the past I would take what was offered. Peanuts? Pretzels? Bring it on. I want my free in flight snack!   This time, I did plan ahead.  I boiled the last of the eggs in my fridge, and brought leftover fruit (that would otherwise go bad while we were away).   I apologize to the folks on the plane if the eggs smelled eggy when being peeled in-flight, but those eggs were completely delicious, and got me through the 6 hour flight happily.  For in-flight beverages, I passed on my old favorite — spicy bloody-mary-mix (without the vodka)  — because it contains high fructose corn syrup. Instead, I went with straight tomato juice and lemon, and water (also no vodka).  Not entirely paleo, but another compromise choice.

Restaurants:   Most restaurants have some offerings that are at least semi paleo-friendly.  I made choices that were, if not 100% paleo, more toward the paleo template.  A protein-and-veg plate (ordering extra vegetables in place of the offered starch), rather than using travel to justify a big plate of pasta, or the side of mashed potatoes.  At restaurants that had standard issue bread, I skipped it 100%. For others that had amazing artisan bread, I tasted it.  Any other foods I wanted to taste, I didn’t stop myself.

Hotel:  Like most, our hotel room had a little fridge. I used this to my advantage. We sought out the great local markets and brought back fresh local produce to enjoy in the morning. Also, since it was the Pacific Northwest, we got delicious dried/smoked salmon. Fatty wild salmon and golden raspberries for breakfast? Delicious!

Roadtrips:  At those markets, I picked up food for our planned road trips, including the salmon snacks, dried seaweed, nitrate-free jerky, and fruit. Although the jerky contained salt, and the salmon also had some sugar, I did the best I could without spending hours reading labels.

When someone else controls the menu:  The wedding we attended was a beautiful event – the union of  two funny, wonderful, kind people.  These people also happen to be vegetarian. Ahhh!  In my past lives of trying to find the best way to eat, I would have loved this.  As a person who has grown accustomed to 30% of my daily macro-nutrients in the form of protein, this was tough.  For the wedding events, I just did the best I could.  I ate cheese, I ate other stuff that would usually avoid, but I tried to stick to the fruits and veggies and avoid the worst (for me) stuff like macaroni & cheese, and cake.

So, all in all, I am happy with how it all went. I am ready for the next paleo vacation challenge!

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