Eating Healthy When Traveling With a Group

It’s summertime, and that means lots of family vacations, family reunions, camping trips, etc.  If you are gone for multiple weekends throughout the summer, and don’t plan ahead of time to make sure you are eating healthy, the s’mores, potato salad, and hamburgers can really catch up with you, and maybe add on a few extra unwanted pounds.  That doesn’t mean you should stay home, or forget about eating healthily while on vacation (just to worry about it once summer is over), it just means you need to be a little bit organized (remember this post – organization is a necessity to maintaining a healthy lifestyle)…so how does that work when you are traveling with a large group, and don’t have as much control over the food as you would like?  Here are some ideas.  I will provide a couple of scenarios, and give examples of how you can mitigate the healthy eating “roadblocks.”

Scenario 1

You are going with your in-laws to stay in a family cabin over a long weekend.  Your mother-in-law is super organized and plans out a menu ahead of time, and has said she would like to provide all of the food (she wants the trip to be low key for you and your family).  Although, you really appreciate all of her work and effort, and she is a great cook, she may not have a menu that includes your eating preferences.  You want to eat with everyone else, and you don’t want to offend your mother-in-law…but you also want to stay on track with your healthy lifestyle goals.

Mitigation Strategy

This exact scenario happened to me, and this is what I did.  Luckily, I have an understanding mother-in-law that doesn’t get offended if I eat some of my own things sometimes.  I asked her for a copy of the menu, which she gladly emailed over to me…see part of it below.

Thurs. dinner:  BLT’s, carrots, celery, fruit, chips, s’mores reg.

Fri. Breakfast:  Waffles, fruit

Fri. lunch:  Deli meat sandwich, carrots,  applesauce, pudding cups, chips

Fri. dinner:  Grilled chicken, corn on cob, cucumber, tomato salad, potato salad, s’mores in a cone

Sat. Breakfast:  Scrambled eggs, hash browns, sausage,  fruit, cinnamon roll

It all sounded delicious, and I really didn’t have to change much.  Here is what I did…

Thurs dinner:  I didn’t want a BLT, so I brought a pre-chopped salad, some grilled chicken, and some homemade dressing.  I ate the salad and some of her carrots, celery, and fruit for dinner.

Friday Breakfast:  I brought ingredients with me for overnight oats, and had those with a side of fruit while my kids enjoyed the waffles

Friday Lunch:  I had another salad with grilled chicken (that I brought from home)

Friday dinner:  I didn’t change anything, except opting out of the potato salad and s’mores

Saturday Breakfast: More overnight oats and fruit

I had to make very little changes to my mother-in-law’s menu.  She brought a ton of fruit, which I was able to eat with every meal, and snack on throughout the day.  I also brought snacks to share with everyone.  I brought a new treat recipe I was experimenting with, some apples, and almonds.  Overall it worked out really well for me and my needs/preferences.  If you don’t think bringing your own separate salad and breakfast would work for your situation, here are a few other suggestions (based off the example menu)…

  • Volunteer to bring some of the ingredients (i.e. you could bring ingredients for Coconut Flour Pancakes and make those to share with everyone)
  • Volunteer to make a salad for dinner each night, and include a huge helping for yourself (I recommend making Mango Berry Salad)
  • Bring your own healthier bread for sandwiches (if white bread is sure to be the bread of choice)
  • Bring extra veggies to pile onto your sandwich (i.e. avocado, cucumber, peppers, etc)

Scenario 2

You are meeting a few families for a long weekend at a cabin.  Everyone wants to make it low key, so they suggest bringing your own breakfast and lunch items, and want to implement the following for dinner…

Friday: Grill hamburgers and everyone bring a side

Saturday: Go out to dinner

Sunday:  Enchiladas, everyone bring a side

Mitigation Strategy

This is another scenario that I came across this summer.  This one was a little bit easier because we all just did our own things for breakfast, lunch, and snacks (once again I had overnight oats for breakfast, salads for lunch, and fruit and nuts for snacks).  Below is what I did for dinner

Friday:  I brought some turkey burgers to grill up (I also grilled up extra so I could add them to my salads for the rest of the weekend).  I had plenty of turkey burgers, so whoever wanted one could have one as well (note:  I am not against beef, but I am extremely picky about the quality of my beef…and I knew it would be best for me to bring an alternative for myself – turkey was the easiest).  I also brought a ton of zucchini to grill up, and some Ezekiel English muffins to replace the buns.  I ended up with a very hardy dinner of turkey burger with Ezekiel English muffin bun, grilled zucchini, and cut up fruit (courtesy of my grandma and cousin).  It was delicious

Saturday:  We went out to eat and I ordered a fabulous salad – easy

Sunday:  I brought a salad and some fruit to share with everyone.  I had a small helping of the enchiladas and a large serving of salad and fruit.

These are two fairly simple examples, but hopefully it gets the wheels turning, and gives you some ideas.  Once again, if you want to eat healthy, especially while on vacation, you have to do a little bit of planning.  This is by no means the only way to do it, and if you don’t have the time or the resources to bring your own food – don’t stress about it…it happens and it is not worth worrying about.  Simply make the best choices with the options you have available.  That’s how life goes sometimes :).

 

What do you do to make sure you eat healthy when you don’t have control of the menu?

What are some of your favorite meals to take with you on vacation?

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