Eighty Nutrition’s Summer Survival Guide Part 2: Surviving Vacations and Summer Travel
By Ali Kucich Brady, MSc, FNLP, FNTP, BCHHC, CHSC, Owner of Eighty Nutrition, Functional Medicine Nutritionist
In this installment, Ali Brady of Eighty Nutrition, shares her tips on how to navigate a vacation full of potential indulgences and the ever-dreaded, nutritional wasteland, The Road Trip. You’ll learn what to steer clear of, when to and how to cut yourself a little slack, and ways to prepare ahead so you don’t blow your nutritional game plan.
Surviving Summer (or anytime) Vacations
Blowing up your entire healthy eating plan on vacation is not necessary! You’ll feel so much better during your trip and when you get home if you can moderate your choices. Try to keep breakfast and lunch as healthy as possible to save room for mid-afternoon cocktails and savory snacks or dessert at restaurants.
Skip the breakfast pastries, muffins, and glasses of juice. They are sugar bombs and rarely worth the splurge. Be prepared with some healthier breakfast or snack options. If you are somewhere with a local grocery or convenience store, pop in and pick up some fruit, pre-cut veggies, jerky sticks, or raw nuts. Or bring along some protein bars, jerky sticks, individual servings of protein or collagen powders, and a shaker bottle you can rinse out. It’s a bonus if your vacation locale has a fridge or kitchen.
If ordering from a poolside menu, opt for a a simple “clean” lunch of protein and veggies to save room for cocktails and special dinners or indulgences. This is the perfect time for grilled proteins on a salad with fresh lemon or vinaigrette. Skip items like quesadillas, nachos and fried foods. Not only are they calorie dense, but no one wants to feel bloated in a bathing suit.
Look at the menus in advance and determine if there is something special you want to eat. Build the rest of your meal around that. Choose your appetizers, cocktails, dessert, and bread options based on the high value item. There will be some restaurants where the local cuisine is full of fresh, grilled veggies and protein and often those will suffice.
Beware of the buffet! Too much choice – and too frequent choice – can lead to overeating. You only need to eat 3-4 times a day, total. If it is not meal or snack time, you don’t need the food.
Have one plate of food. You don’t need to make several trips just because the food is there.
Decide in advance how much alcohol you want to drink. Maybe you want forego alcohol and hydrate until dinner. Alcohol removes inhibition, so once you start, you are much more likely to overeat and overdrink. Fun vacation drinks, like frozen daiquiris, sound light and refreshing, but their nutritional profile is big and bloated. An 8-ounce strawberry daiquiri packs more calories than a double-patty hamburger and is loaded with sugar! Limit your intake of these drinks to one a day.
Even if you don’t go to the gym on vacation, there are ample opportunities to move your body each day. Walking is a perfect exercise that you can do almost anywhere. Swim! Or do a YouTube or streamed workout video in your hotel room for 20-30 minutes each morning.
Skip the boardwalk fried food with a cooler of these packaged and fresh foods for your beach day!
Fresh deli meat
Sliced Swiss cheese, goat cheese, or feta cheese
Raw nuts and seeds
Guacamole and baby carrots
Fresh clementines, cherries, frozen grapes
Chomps Beef Jerky Sticks
Simple Mills Almond Crackers
Marys Gone Crackers Super Seed Crackers
Ithaca Hummus (or single serve hummus containers)
Louisville Vegan Jerky Snacks
Siggi’s Lowfat Yogurt tubes (freeze ahead of time)
Justin’s single serve nut butter and celery or apples
Sea Snax Roasted Nori Strips
Bare Baked Crunchy Fruit Chips
Good Pop Organic Freezer Pops
Lesser Evil Paleo Crisps
Kettle Chips in Avocado Oil
Hippie Snacks Avocado Crisps
Oloves Olive Packs
Surviving a Summer Road Trip
There can be quite a few obstacles to healthy eating when you’re on the road. Minimal opportunity to move and fast-food-only dining options can throw anyone off track. When confined in just a few cubic feet in a car, whatever foods lie within arm’s reach are the ones you’ll grab. Shop before you leave, and bring a bag with healthier choices, so you can skip the gas station mini mart chip and candy options.
The more food you have access to, the more likely you are to snack. Don’t bring too many snack options for a short car trip. For a longer trip, keep your snack bag in the trunk and replenish items up front when you stop for gas or a restroom. Remember, you don’t need to eat unless it’s an actual meal or snack time.
For a longer road trip, pack a cooler with ice packs and healthier meal options like cut veggies, lean meats, hard boiled eggs, raw nuts, and Greek yogurt. If you want to skip the highway fast-food options, map out your route and look for some better restaurant options close to the exits. And if you’re somewhere with enough population for a restaurant, there’s likely a grocery store in the vicinity, too. Putting together a meal on your own that includes fresh produce or even deli-made salads will most assuredly be healthier for you than anything a McBurger joint has to offer.
Don’t forget to hydrate! Even mild dehydration has been shown to cause nearly as many errors on the road as drunk driving.
Eating on-the-go can be a challenge, especially when trying to get your protein, good fat and fiber in. Sometimes, the stress of it causes you to go off plan and later regret that indulgence. Here are some convenience items that are “better” for you than fast food or a bag of Doritos. Mix and match these foods, as needed, to get all your nutrients in.
Food to Pack
Avocados or guacamole cups; great with sweet potato chips
Raw veggies; carrots, celery, peppers, broccoli, etc
Fresh fruit*; apples, pears, bananas, citrus, etc or dried fruit (*beware of high sugar content!)
Nuts & seeds*; almonds, pepitas, pistachios, etc. (*trail mix-buy or make your own)
Clean energy bars
Granola; eat dry or with applesauce or yogurt
Instant oatmeal (add hot water from gas station or hotel)
Rice cakes; with nut butter or hummus
Crackers & salty snacks*; ideally with olive or avocado oil
Seaweed snacks with hummus
Jerky* (watch for gluten if GF)
Canned tuna; great with crackers or chips
Olives in closable jar
Hummus; savory or chocolate (2 TBSP serving)
Clean deli meat; ham, turkey, roast beef, etc
Cheese sticks or slices*
Greek yogurt cups; freeze or keep cool
Hard-boiled eggs (buy or cook yourself)
Protein smoothie; make ahead and/or freeze
Other General Tips:
Grab silverware, napkins, condiments, salt & pepper before you leave home.
Pack tea bags + brew with hot water if staying in a hotel.
Seek out a grocery store at your stops or destination; it’s an easy Google.
Only eat during meal times!!! Don’t graze just because everyone else is snacking.
Ali is a board-certified functional medicine nutritionist and health coach, who helps clients optimize their hormonal health, restore their gut microbiome, and reduce inflammation with nutrition and lifestyle interventions. Her private practice, Eighty Nutrition, has helped hundreds of people achieve their peak state of awesome… mind, body, and soul.
Ali’s journey into the world of functional nutrition began twenty years ago when she was battling chronic health challenges that left her fatigued, sick, and in pain. In recovering her health, Ali came to understand that food and lifestyle interventions were at the core of optimal health and were the key to enhanced energy, healthy body composition, and overall wellness.
Ali holds degrees from Franklin & Marshall College, The London School of Economics, and Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. She has certifications from The Functional Nutrition Alliance, The Nutritional Therapy Institute, The Institute for Functional Medicine, and The Natural Gourmet Institute of Health and Culinary Arts. Ali has specialized training in functional hormonal health, autoimmune protocols, therapeutic nutritional supplementation, and functional blood chemistry analysis.
Ali supports clients across the country with science-based, 1:1 concierge-style nutrition protocols, as well as her seasonal group programs, the Real Food Reset and the 6-week bootcamp to break through bad habits and fad diets.