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Healthy Eating on Vacation

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I was asked by a reader:

Hey Katie,
It would be great if you could do a post on eating healthy on vacation, especially how you deal with when you first arrive and haven’t had time to go grocery shopping yet. I always struggle with that! And working out too. Love your blog by the way!

I’m really lucky because the beach house where we’re staying is equipped with a full kitchen (oven, microwave, fridge and freezer). And—as I mentioned in my previous post—my parents drove down a week before me, taking dangerous “Katie things” I couldn’t bring on an airplane. They also bought a few staples, during the week, to save me from having to go grocery shopping first thing.

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Breakfast was an old favorite: Blended Oatmeal Pudding.

I cooked the oatmeal in Texas and took it on the airplane in a small Magic Bullet cup. Thankfully, no one tried to stop me.


The above was my breakfast backdrop.

For lunch, on the first day, I utilized some of the items my parents bought. My meal was close to the ugly meal from yesterday’s post—with the monster salad, Artisana coconut butter, and Chee-fu. The only difference was that I had a bowl of corn instead of the zucchini fries. And now that I have had time to go grocery shopping, I’m eating very similarly to the way I always eat.

There’s just one exception: Since I’m on vacation, I want to enjoy the scenery, the town, the beach, etc. I don’t want to be stuck in the kitchen all day. So I’m keeping things simple—less cooking, more “thrown together” meals, with lotsa salads and fresh fruits and veggies (taking advantage of those side-of-the-road farmers’ markets we don’t have in Texas). Plus, being out shopping or hanging in the town requires portable snacks, so I’ll often exchange my beloved blended pudding or Vita-Mix ice cream snacks for Jocalat bars, fudge baby bars, raw nuts, or especially fresh farmer’s-market fruits. Yesterday afternoon, for example, I feasted on this:

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Juiciest box of raspberries ever. In the words of Usher: OMG! These berries hail from the cutest little farmer’s-market stand. Honestly, I want to box up the entire stand and transport it with me back to Texas. Why don’t we have places like this? Almost everything is organic, everything is local, and the stand boasts the ripest and juiciest fruit/veg. Berries, peppers, asparagus, salad greens, apples, peaches, tomatoes…

Question of the Day:

How do you eat healthily on vacation? And in the summertime, do you tend to stick to the same type of routine, or do you completely deviate from how you live during the rest of the year?

Personally, I love the freedom of not having to be at a specific place at a specific time (unlike in college– *blah*). However, as far as eating is concerned, I still pretty much eat around the same times because that’s when my body is conditioned to feel hungry. Same thing with sleeping: For the most part, I still fall asleep around 11ish and wake up naturally around 6:30 or so. If I mess with my sleep routine too much, my body feels it the next day. (All rules go out the window on dancing nights, though. Sometimes, feeling icky later is soooo worth it!) But the rest of my family—and some of my friends—follow a completely different lifestyle during the summer months, eating dinner at 10PM, sleeping til noon, and having pizza for breakfast.

Thanks, Gisela, for the question. I’ll try to get to the second part of your question (about working out) later this week.

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Katie is the baker, photographer, and author of the popular blog Chocolate-Covered Katie. Her favorite food is chocolate, and she believes in eating a balanced diet that includes dessert every single day. More about Katie—> 

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  1. Those berries do look delicious!!
    It used to be so simple for us. We’d just eat whatever, whenever on vacations, hitting up local markets or restaurants and such as we went. NOW there’s a mini-us in the picture and his tummy doesn’t understand “vacation schedule” vs. normal life schedule. (And no, we’re not stopping for the fast food window. Ever!) So we travel with food! I always have a giant bag of produce with me when we venture away from home. I even drag it along on the little 3 hour drives to my mom’s because a hungry toddler breaks my heart! We haven’t flown yet though, but we’re more of a road trip type of family anyway. 😉

  2. This is always a huge, and the FIRST concern of mine when I go somewhere else! It can be so uncomfortable being vegan in a new place. When I just go with my husband its easy cause we grocery shop, but if we are visiting someone or family it can get so difficult! Due to it being difficult in the beginning though I know realize that I just need to plan ahead and I think eventually itll become second nature!

  3. Katie says:

    Gorgeous beach. Gorgeous raspberries.

    My schedule changes dramatically in the summertime. My sleeping/eating schedule SUCKS when I work (up at 4:30…lunch at 11am…dinner at 6pm…bed by 9pm) – and that is NOT how my body functions naturally – so I relish the summer days when I can stay up a little later and sleep in a little later. It’s “recharge” time for me, and I just listen to what my body wants to do – it’s glorious really.

  4. Gabby says:

    Thanks for doing this post. I am taking down some of your snack ideas and also will be reading the comments to see what others write!!!

  5. Mo says:

    Eating well away from home always gets me in a sort of mini panic attack because people seem to think I’m a huuuge snob for, *gasp*, wanting to take care of my body and/or the environment. So I always pack at least one thing that I can fall back on (read: eat alone after meals) if I had to turn down food served to me away from home (away from home usually means at my grandparents haha). Like, a couple weekends ago it was homemade granola packed with almonds and pepitas. I ate more granola in a weekend that I thought I’d really have to… Thankfully there’s usually fresh produce around but otherwise I’m kind of on my own. :\
    I plan on being super prepared when I go to Maine next month! 😛

    It looks like you’re having fun! 🙂

  6. Abby says:

    Great post! I am working on being more comfy on vacation. It is hard for me to do anything out of my routine

  7. Jennifer - jcd says:

    Sounds like you are having fun in New York. Your breakfast backdrop is gorgeous! We have wee duckies in our neighbourhood pond too – sooo cute!

    Eating on holidays? Great ideas, Katie! We like to bring some things from home to get us through the first day or two, lots of snacks, and sometimes breakfasts for the first four days. We will bring muffins, homemade energy or granola bars, dried fruit, nuts, oatmeal, etc. It’s all easy to pack and bring on a plane or bus. After that, what we eat is up in the air. We usually eat around the same time of day as at home because our bodies need the fuel. Finding healthy vegan food in foreign territory can be a bit of an adventure, as can finding a supermarket. When in doubt, ask a random local/shop employee where the best food is. Or, find the restaurant with the longest line and stand in it – the food must be good! (In that case, it always is.) Local eateries and roadside stands are usually the best places and even if they don’t have vegan fare, most places will make you something.

    1. JCD,
      It’s so true; some of my favorite restaurant meals have come from asking for a “special” meal and being surprised! I just went to a wedding and got the most amazing platter ever! It’s good to be adventurous :).

  8. Rick says:

    great post, but what a shame about your friends who eat dinner at 10pm, wake at noon, and eat pizza for breakfast. those are three of the most horrible habits to have, i feel sorry for them. it really stinks when we watch those around us, especially those we love, disregard our health advice and choose the low road. life is so much more special when you live it to the fullest, at least in my opinion.

    for our vacation this year we’re skipping Aruba (don’t trust weather in the Caribbean come October – hurricanes + oil spill = nasty weather being predicted for the rest of the year) and going to a small lake, staying in a cottage. we’ll most likely just eat fresh fruits and veggies all week; no time for being in a kitchen when we’re on vacation.

    we’ll also bring some Wild Bars, Raw Revolution bars, and most likely the Blend-Tec to make smoothies from all the fruits and veggies we’ll buy from farmers on the side of the road on the way to the lake 😀

  9. Sarah says:

    That oatmeal pudding looks heavenly!

  10. Stefanie says:

    When I go on vacation I make sure I bring my breakfasts and some bread/PB. Also, I bring snacks and bars to munch on. When I get to where I am going I hit the store and buy fresh fruits and veggies. If I know there is a whole foods market I will stop there for luch/dinner until I get stocked up. Making meals in advance also helps keep hunger at bay and eating helathier. My meals are mostly the same time as when I am not on vacation.

    That is a lovly back drop to eat breakfast by. I hope you are enjoying your vacation (it sounds like you are). 🙂

  11. So glad you’re enjoying yourself! You have quite the beautiful backdrop for eating meals, that’s for sure.

    I always pack food when I go on trips. I’m traveling this weekend and will spend 12 hours in the car each way (in the middle of nowhere, mind you) so I really have to be prepared. I’ll chop up fresh veggies like carrots and bell pepper, then bring cherry tomatoes, grapes, apples, and a few clementines – all food that is portable and easy to eat on the road. I’ll also pack some PB & banana sammies and several CLIF/Lara bars.

  12. Looks like a lovely place, where you are!
    I haven’t been on holiday for over 3years now, so I hardly remember how I eat! But I can imagine I’d stick to roughly the same routine, cos that’s what my body is set to, like yours. Food wise – lots of fresh stuff! No need to eat badly on holiday 🙂

  13. katie says:

    thank u so much. im going to spain for ten days in july and im starting to panic over the whole food situation? any suggestions? also, i never got an emial from ya! no worries. ur probably busy!hows long island treating u! lol xoxoxxo

    1. Katie,
      Ack! I DID email you :(. Did you check your junk box? My emails to people sometimes end up there. What part of Long Island are you on? I’d love to meet up :).

  14. Jenny says:

    It’s harder to eat better on vacation, so I make sure I eat reasonable portion sizes!

  15. Meg says:

    Fresh berries are a MUST in summer, no matter where life takes me 🙂 I also stock up on Larabars 😀 Raw food on the go is where it’s AT!

    Aww duckies! 🙂

  16. Most of my travel is to go to conferences for work, and no matter how much advance notice I give them, I don’t rely on vegan food being readily available. I pack a lot of food in my carry-ons (and checked bag if I can afford it). I take larabars, clif bars, trail mix, nuts, “hardier” fruit like apples and oranges, and ramen noodles to cook at the hotel (if it comes down to that). I also pack food for the travel day and sometimes the next day, like sandwiches, crackers, etc. I probably travel with as much food as clothes. If I’m lucky, it all comes back home with me, but I definitely prefer to be prepared.

  17. mapledreams says:

    OH MY GOSH!!!! THOSE RASPBERRIES. MY MOUTH IS ACTUALLY WATERING. they are my FAVOURITE fruit and thsoe look absolutely delicious and so bright and fresh and colourful! yum, good choice of snack Katie! now that my raspberry excitement is over..

    i tend to stick to the same times of eating all year round! but my brothers….they tend to sleep all day and are awake at night munching through chinese takeaways and pick and mix sweeties!xx

  18. I’m getting ready to go on vacation this weekend, too! I plan on stocking up on Larabars, raw almonds, and fresh fruit for portable snacks– then seeing how it goes! We’re going to be camping a couple of nights, so fresh produce might be hard to come by… and a blender is out of the question!

    But I never worry TOO much about vacation eating. We’re going to be active and enjoy the company of our friends, so if I have a few splurges here and there, that’s okay with me!

    I’m so jealous of your breakfast view! That beach looks so relaxing!

  19. I always bring snacks onto the airplane. I find that fresh fruit is the most filling. Although, sadly, I often have tummy issues when I travel. I totally recommend drinking more water! . . . I think I’m going to go make some fudge babies. 🙂

  20. I typically eat out more on vacation, for obvious reasons, but I usually eat the same types of foods, even if I eat out. I still try to squeeze in my fruits and veggies and limit desserts to when absolutely necessary 😉

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