Easy and fun tips for eating healthy while on vacation! Life is all about balance. At least, that’s what we are told ever since we were kids.
But if you are anything like us here in the AMI Locals office, we tend to eat whatever we please while we are on vacation… figuring we will just go on a diet when we get back home. However, swimsuit season is all year round in Florida! So we asked our friend and expert Personal Chef Sarah Subrize of Cook.Bake.Nourish for some advice.
Q: We tend to go overboard and eat whatever we like, instead of eating healthy while on vacation. Can you share some tips on making better choices at restaurants?
Tip #1: Before you go out to eat, if you are feeling incredibly hungry, be sure to have a healthy snack that’s rich in fiber, healthy fats, or protein and it’s ideal if you can snack on a combination of the three. You know the saying of do not go grocery shopping while you’re hungry? Well, the same applies to you when you go out to eat, go to a party, or any social gathering around food. It is so easy to entertain the “eat everything in sight” mentality when you’re incredibly hungry and when we usually do this it ends up not even being that enjoyable and we never tend to feel satisfied.
Tip #2: Look at your day as a whole and pick where you want your indulgences. If you want a few cocktails poolside during the day but know you are going out to a restaurant later, perhaps choose a veggie loaded balanced meal at the restaurant, or if you’ve eaten well during the day get that meal you’ve really been wanting on the menu.
Tip #3: Aim for 1 veggie heavy meal per day when eating out. When I am away on vacation, I look at my day and try to aim for at least 1 veggie heavy meal per day. This could be a produce-packed omelet, a big loaded salad with a protein like grilled chicken, or a plate full of grilled veggies with a protein.
Tip #4: Think in terms of adding in the good vs cutting out the bad. When eating out try ordering a side of veggies with your meal or adding in a salad (only if that’s what you enjoy – never force yourself just because its considered “healthier”.) Eating additional vegetables can help you get in the fiber your digestive system needs to help with fullness, which helps keep your blood sugars stable. This helps you not overindulge later.
Tip #5: Opt for cooking methods that include steaming, broiling, baking, roasting, over frying.
Tip #6: Talk to your server. Ask your server about how the food is prepared, sometimes a simple dish such as chicken and vegetables can have many hidden oils, salt, and sauces. Restaurants in general tend to use more of all of those to boost flavor. Most of the time in amounts you would not expect/don’t know about. Having this simple conversation and knowledge will allow you to ask for adjustments about how you want the meal to be prepared. You’ll be able to ask for some items on the side, so you have more control over your meal.
Tip #7: Have a ‘when in Rome’ mentality when on vacation. Seek out what the locals eat. Ask around to what the best places are and if you are looking for a more health focused restaurants ask your neighbors or whoever around if they have any good suggestions. People are so friendly in this area, they will for sure share their go to spots. I always gravitate towards restaurants I know get their foods from local farms and have freshly caught local fish coming in, too and the locals will know those details better than anyone.
Tip #8: Eat what you want but be mindful of your portions. It is easy to overeat at restaurants especially when we are out with a group. It adds up with an app, entrée, drinks, and desserts. Overstuffing never feels good. Eat until you’re full but not stuffed. Ask for a box when they bring out your meal. Once we feel full and ask for a box, its easy to eat a bunch more bites just because it is sitting in front of us before the server gets a chance to bring back the box. Getting your box first allows you to box up your meal when you are ready, so you do not feel overstuffed.
Tip #9: Savor what you are eating and slow down to enjoy it. Overall, my biggest tip and this might be the most important – when it comes to vacation it is important to enjoy yourself and not put too much stress on anything—go ahead, indulge, and enjoy. Just remember to SAVOR what you are eating by slowing down and remember that portion size counts. Take the guilt out of your choices. Because if we allow ourselves to fully enjoy something, we will more likely be fully satisfied and not go back for something else. I think in general if you try and take away the packaged, processed foods in your house and fill your meals with colorful veggies and real ingredients for most of your meals you are doing well even if you indulge at restaurants.
Q: Can you share some ideas for healthy travel snacks to throw in the car/travel bag?
It is easy to go for something greasy or extra sweet when you are super hungry. Avoid making quick choices by being prepared and packing some healthy, filling snacks for the journey. This will help you make nutritious choices when you’re in a pinch.
There are a couple of key things I look for when packing my travel snack bag including foods that are portable, require no refrigeration, going to keep me hydrated, and are satisfying.
This can be as easy as a handful of almonds/trail mix, fruit like an apple and nut butter, or a bag of raw veggies and hummus.
· Packing hummus and veg is a classic snack combo for good reason. Crisp raw veggies are loaded with filling fiber, hydrating water, healthy nutrients phytochemicals, while hummus provides more fiber, satiating protein, and fat. All particularly important things so you aren’t starving once you get to your destination or stop at a rest stop/airport shop and then reach for anything you can get your hands on. Although most stops nowadays have great choices.
· I like to pack some fruit and a nut butter packet. I always pack the heartier fruits like apples they can still last even if they are thrown around in my bag. And nut butter packets make it so easy to keep the snacks less messy which is essential with traveling.
· I also try to plan and make a homemade snack. Something like a chia pudding, bliss balls, or vegetable fritters if I can pack an ice pack with them in my bag. I like to keep these in a sealed glass container to keep them fresh and avoid them getting crushed in my bag. If you have time to prep a bit before traveling, there are a ton of great recipes that are loaded with nutrients to keep you fueled while you’re in the car or on the plane.
· And as always making sure you drink water and staying hydrated is always important!
Q: What sort of meals are you able to provide at our AMI Locals beach houses? What are some of your customer favorites?
This all depends on what each client wants and how much they want. It also depends if I am doing a meal prep situation which involves me preparing a much of meals/ items for them to enjoy later or if I am cooking in home and serving the meals. I customize the menus to fit each individual/ family or friend group. A bachelorette weekend will look different than a family vacay full of kids.
Overall, for breakfasts my meal prep clients love having a frittata on hand, individual chia puddings and/or I also set up yogurt parfait bars with homemade granola and fresh fruit. My sweet potato and veggie hash bowls that they can heat up with some fresh eggs on top is always a hit too. Breakfast items are also great for snacks, but my clients also love all sorts of things they can take to the beach with them or snack on poolside especially dips with crudité, vegetable fritters with spreads and delicious bliss balls (strawberry shortcake is probably my most requested flavor).
For lunch and dinner, it all depends on what each individual wants and likes and is looking for during their vacation stay. I make everything from starters, salads, pastas, grains & hearty veg mains, pure proteins. My meal service is focused on local, seasonal and health supportive cooking, but still cook classic dishes as well as sweats/treats. Everything is just as delicious as it is nutritious. My clients love when I set up a taco bar with all the delicious toppings. It is something pretty much everyone loves and stocking the fridge with plenty of options makes it easier for everyone so they can pick and choose what they want. Grilled lemon, herb and garlic chicken and/ or shrimp skewers, chimichurri steak and my citrus salsa verde salmon are also always big hits. I love to include different sauces and dressings to the meals I provide, as well because meals can be repurposed and customized for the whole family. I have a sample menu here that shows a few options, but all menus look different. Oh, and homemade ice cream (dairy free or dairy full) in the freezer is always loved, as well. And the kids always love an ice cream sundae bar.
Q: What is your favorite Florida seafood dish?
I love to take advantage of Florida’s local seafood. One of my favorite seafood dishes to make (and eat) is blackened local snapper with a mango salsa. A little bit of heat and a little bit of sweet. In season, Florida mangoes are one of my favorite things. Mixed with a little jalapeno, lime zest and a spritz of lime juice is so good! Honestly, when foods are eaten as local and seasonal as possible, not much needs to be done to it to make it delicious!
Thank you for sharing your expert tips & tricks for eating healthy while on vacation with AMI Locals and our guests, Sarah!
We appreciate your taking the time to chat with us, and we definitely will keep these in mind on our next vacation (or even our next trip to Publix!)
Check out our AMI Locals luxury vacation home listings for availability, and of course, to check out all the amazing kitchens you could be enjoying this Thanksgiving and Christmas season with your family!
>> Check out Cook.Bake.Nourish for recipes and more information about Chef Sarah Subrize