It’s hard enough to follow a strict diet when you are at home.
At least at home you are in charge of preparing most of your meals, you have access to your favorite grocery stores and you know what restaurants are around that will allow you to stay the course.
But how can you stay on your diet when you are in a new location, and forced to eat out for the majority of the time?
I was faced with this on my family’s trip to Walt Disney World this summer.
Previous to May, I was a generally healthy eater, but I also was willing to indulge when the mood struck me, some fried food here, a burger there.
But in May, everything changed when I was diagnosed with an auto-immune condition. I have never been the type of person to let an opportunity for improvement pass me by, and so I started researching things I could do to help my condition.
Over and over again, I started reading about the AIP or Auto Immune Protocol Diet, and how it could reduce the symptoms of auto-immune conditions. Considering that I am in my 30’s and I was experiencing inflammatory arthritis, I decided it couldn’t hurt to try.
The good news is that for me, it does seem to help, and there have been times that I break diet, and I pay for that cheat in pain in my joints.
This, in turn, made me highly motivated to stay on diet during our vacation.
To have a chance of success with your diet on your trip, you need to have the willpower to do so.
My willpower came from the knowledge that deviating from my diet would result in pain. It is relatively easy to stay on a strict diet if you know firsthand just how uncomfortable it will make you if you stray.
If you don’t have pain from a donut, then you need to find another source of strength to make it through the trip. Perhaps it is fitting into that dress hanging in your closet, or knowing that you have a special occasion coming up that makes you determined to look your best.
Whatever it is, it is essential to have a firm commitment if you want to put up with the inconveniences of staying on diet in an unknown environment- and make no mistake, it is inconvenient.
Don’t go on your trip blind.
With the internet at your side, there is no reason to go to your vacation spot completely unaware. Almost every restaurant has a website these days, at least in popular areas, and their website has a menu. It doesn’t take that much effort to look before you travel for some places that have meals that fit your guidelines.
For me, I knew a few restaurants that had options for me at every one of the Disney Parks, and I knew which ones I would literally be unable to eat any of the items on their highly fried and white bready menu. There were many times that I found myself eating salads… as the only option. But I knew that the alternate wasn’t worth it, so I ate my salad in peace.
For the record, I knew ahead of time I wanted to check out Satu’li Canteen in Animal Kingdom, and I was not disappointed. My family actually ended up eating here more than once as its bowls matched my diet needs perfectly, and I even had choices of what I wanted to eat there- such luxury!
As a family, we also incorporated a lot of buffets, knowing that the rest of the group could eat as they pleased, and I could focus on the veggies and meat that were again, in diet.
Pack your own snacks.
Restaurants are one thing, snacks are another.
It is easy to plan your day so that you end up at one of the “approved” restaurants on your list, but making sure that you have a healthy snack when you need one is much more difficult.
Now, if I wanted a churro or a frozen dessert, it felt like I could find one every forty feet. But finding a snack that met my strict guidelines was not going to be quite as easy.
So again, planning ahead, I bought a number of snacks for myself before leaving, and put them in my suitcase.
For me, this was primarily bags of popcorn, my seed bars, and packages of nuts . Every day, I would unpack a set from my luggage and put them in my backpack for the day, and whenever the family stopped to eat, I had a snack ready, and didn’t have to buy one or break diet.
Remember why you are there.
I would be lying if I said that I never got jealous of food that my family ate, and mourned the time when I could have eaten it all too.
But then I would remember why I was on this vacation. I was spending time with the people that I loved, and seeing my kids’ faces sparkle with excitement.
When I remembered that, the food passed into the background, and it wasn’t as important to me anymore, and I was able to focus again on the things that mattered.