Thursday, July 25, 2013

My Vacation Diet

Just yesterday I was asked this question,

"How do you stay off sugar?"

The answer is deceptively simple.  "You eat something else."  Eat something else?  But what?  What indeed.

Today after Zumba Gold Van, Colin, and I are off to Universal Studios in Southern California to enjoy three days and nights of thrill rides, entertainment, and yes, food.  For Van and Colin, my husband and son respectively, who have never had a weight problem- other than being too skinny, there are hardly any limits to what foods they can enjoy on vacation.

For example, Colin is excited about eating at the sushi restaurant at City Walk, and then crossing the pedestrian street to shop at "It's Sugar," an entire store dedicated to candy.

Will I restrict his choices because of my issues with sugar?  Not too much, because his natural appetite is balanced.  Colin has the gift of being able to follow the inclinations of his appetite without overeating.  Would I like him to eat even more vegetables and fruit?  Yes, I would, but he does eat and enjoy them, so I'm content most of the time.

So what will I be doing on this vacation when I will be surrounded by "fun food" temptation?

 I will go in with a plan.  

Enjoy the Ride:  Not the Sugar Roller-Coaster
For the past several years, as I have spent more time living free from the call of sugar, and the foods that turn to sugar shortly after eating them, like grains and starches, I have found that when I stick to my eating strategy, travel is delightful.

You might think that I feel deprived when everyone else is eating ice cream and funnel cakes at the amusement park, and I bring in an apple and almonds, but the opposite is true.  My energy and sense of well-being are boosted by eating satisfying foods, and so my enjoyment of the vacation experience is boosted too.

Another key to enjoying food on vacation is the fact that I do expand my menu to include foods that I don't eat every day.  For example, I usually have to be careful about the amount and variety of fruit that I eat.  Bananas and grapes at home are common triggers for my bouts of overeating, (yes, I still have these episodes from time to time) but I like to bring apples with me when I travel, because they hold up well, and they don't seem to stimulate my appetite the way sweeter fruits do.

I also include more cheese and nuts to add variety, and once again, raw almonds are wonderfully easy to carry on me so that I have something to eat when I'm surrounded by burgers, fries, or desserts masquerading as breakfast.  By the way, one positive note is that many fine restaurants are offering unique cheeses for dessert these days, so if dairy isn't an issue for you, you still get a treat after the main meal.

Another piece of good news is that whole foods like fruit, nuts, hard boiled eggs, and cheese are becoming available pretty much everywhere.  From AM/PM, to 7-11, to Circle K, I am regularly seeing these foods offered in abundance, and it is a big help to someone like me who doesn't want to choose between chips, sweets, and hunger.  Add in the fact that when I leave sugar and grains out of my diet, I don't ever feel the grinding, ravenous hunger that hits me when I'm on the sugar wheel, and things are really looking up!

One of the best things about an amusement park vacation is the amount of walking we will be doing.  I have a Fitbit activity tracker, and  it shows that we walk at least 8 miles a day on these trips.  This kind of "low and slow" activity is an excellent fat burner, so I can eat my fruit, cheese, and organic jerky, and still wake up feeling lean and spunky the next day.

It's  been five years since I lost 50 pounds and reached my goal weight, and the truth is that when I've flirted with too much sugar and middle intensity cardio, my weight has gone right back up.  The physical and emotional distress that re-gain causes me is simply not worth the brief pleasure of consuming foods that hurt.

When I stick to my sugar and grain free eating plan on vacation, I usually come back with a leaner body, and next to wonderful memories and great family photos, I can't think of a nicer souvenir.

So there's my answer to the "How do you stay off sugar?" question.  Eat something else.  You, Dear Reader, need to find your personal something else.  It could be fruit, nuts, cheese, greek yogurt, more vegetables, jerky, but your super foods are out there.  I wish you success in finding and enjoying them.