Eating While Travelling: Making Smart Food Choices Abroad

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As you’ll [hopefully] have read in my last post – Training While Travelling: Keeping Fit On My Honeymoon – I had the privilege of being able to spend part of my Christmas holidays soaking up rays and getting my sweat on in the Caribbean.

While I was determined to get in a workout at least every other day, I knew that making smart food choices was going to be essential every single day, multiple times per day! See, we had paid for “All Inclusive” (which was an awesome decision!), and we heard there was a buffet… 🙊 Yes, I said it – the “B-word”… 🙉

More often than not, this is a “Diet Death Trap” for people, but if you’re savvy about a) food selection, and b) portion control, then actually, you’ll be just fine!

Dom. Rep. Food (1)

These are some of the meals I ate while in the Dominican Republic – they’re all plates that I loaded up at the buffet, and in all the dishes you’ll see a massive variety of *natural* foods that were simply delicious!

In these photos you’ll find the following ingredients: chicken, cucumber, tomato, red beans, tayota (most commonly known as ‘chayote’, but in the Deep South ⚜ they call it ‘mirliton’, and Down Under 🇦🇺 it’s called ‘choko’), okra, zucchini, pork, bell peppers, scrambled eggs, potatoes, papaya, cantaloupe, banana, passion fruit, white beans, beef, pineapple, black beans, rice and more.

‘… there’s nothing wrong with having a little treat – all in moderation!’

All natural. All cooked beautifully, and healthfully – boiled and baked (or roasted) for the most part. Nothing ‘hydrogenated’. Nothing with sh*tty chemicals that no-one can pronounce. No E numbers. Just REAL food that is absolutely loaded with micronutrients, probiotics and healthy enzymes!

Here are a few more examples…

Dom. Rep. Food (2)

And again, you’ll see tons of super-healthy foods like: plantain, aubergine (eggplant), purple cabbage, yucca, brussels sprouts, watermelon, onion, and then some.

Now, obviously you can see a couple of dishes with *pasta* (even a cheeky bit of chow mein)… shock horror! 🙈 But firstly, they’re very modest portions; secondly, I was working out plenty, as well as getting in an average of 10,000 steps a day, and even doing some watersports (i.e. burning well in excess of 1000kcal each day just through Thermic Effect of Activity); and thirdly, there’s nothing wrong with having a little treat – all in moderation!

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So… what are some of the key things to extrapolate from this?

Well, firstly is that “slapping together” a dish that is packed with healthy macros, teeming with micros, and flavourful AF, is in fact, very simple; and as you’ll see in some of the pics – you can even achieve this with as few as just a handful of ingredients!

‘… this simplicity can so readily be replicated at HOME!!’

Just check out the main one from the first picture: boiled rice, boiled black beans, boiled okra, freshly chopped cucumber and tomato, freshly sliced cantaloupe/pineapple/passion fruit, a lovely li’l meatball (hiding behind the cucumber), and two gorgeously seasoned boiled [then flash-fried] potatoes.

The most “complex” parts of that dish are the potatoes and the meatball; but everything else… I mean, it doesn’t get much easier – ‘chopped/sliced/boiled’! And more than your ‘Five-a-Day’ on that single plate alone!

My point here is two-fold: first (in alignment with the namesake of this post) is that eating while travelling involves making smart food choices, which are – in fact – easy to make. But second, that this simplicity can so readily be replicated at HOME!!

Granted, you may struggle to find chayote or yucca or papaya at your local store, but how many other ingredients did I list? (24, in case you’re wondering). Plenty to “mix & match” into equally yummy, filling and healthy dishes!

‘… I was famished and had burned a f*cking ton of calories already…’

Oh, and btw… I can’t even tell you exactly what time of day I had these – breakfast, lunch, dinner – I ate this kind of thing for EVERY meal while I was there!

Screw the stereotypical ‘Continental Breakfast’ – that’s possibly the unhealthiest thing you can eat in the morning anyways! And f*ck the cereal and whatnot…

REAL food! It’s available in abundance – abroad annnnd at home……..

But okay, look I’m not saying you can’t eat the “naughty” stuff ever, ever again! And if you’re on vacation, this would be ridiculous! While I was eating very healthy food for each of my three meals of the day, occasionally I would go ahead and pig out a little on some of the not-as-healthy stuff…

Dom. Rep. Food (3)

This was my dinner on the day of my first workout – I was famished and had burned a f*cking ton of calories already, so frankly, I was more than justified in loading up! The Beef & Garlic Oil Pasta was easily around 800kcal (that breaks even with my workout); and those Steak & Bell Pepper Skewers were probably sitting at a huge, yet sumptuous and juicy 300kcal a piece…

‘… ensure that 80% of what you’re shoving in your face is healthy…’

So yeah, I wolfed down a hefty 1,400kcal in one sitting… However, I burned about FOUR thousand 🔥 throughout the course of the day, and knowing that my other two meals came in at under 1000kcal each, I was golden! 👌😎

Other bouts of naughtiness included:

Dom. Rep. Drinks

Over the course of six days, a fair number of these cheeky little cocktails got thrown down the hatch! But hey, come on – it was my Honeymoon!

And again, I know I was breaking even with the ol’ “Calories In / Calories Out” because I was 190lbs when I left Oregon, and when I got back – before my first workout back at my local gym – I weighed in and lo-and-behold, I was still 190lbs! Perfect – didn’t pile on the pounds, and I wasn’t trying to lose weight either, so… Win! 🤟😛

So, it comes down to this: eating while travelling is not some kinda of Mensa-level conundrum that can’t be solved; the best way to approach it is with the “80/20” Rule – ensure that 80% of what you’re shoving in your face is healthy, then you can allow yourself to indulge a little with that 20% of wiggle-room.

‘Instead, earn those yummy treats!’

I thoroughly recommend that you TRY to stay active though while you’re travelling! If you’re more the “cultural type” (i.e. love visiting parts of the world where you just wander the city on foot), you’ll probably find you notch up a good number of miles without realizing it. I remember exploring San Francisco on foot – I was yomping a solid 9+ miles per day!

Even if the goal is nothing more than “Sun, Sea & Sand”, that’s fine. You can still go for a walk along the beach, swim a little, surf (if you can), maybe even kayak (?).

But food-wise, just don’t binge from start to finish! You’ll only be cheating yourself. Instead, earn those yummy treats! Hike, walk, ruck, workout – whatever! Just move yo’ a$$ a little – even if you are [like I was] on a vacation designed to unwind.

Folks, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this post! Hopefully, it’s given you some ideas for what kind of food to enjoy on your next vacation. Go somewhere fantastic, soak up the culture (or the sun), eat some amazing food, and raise a glass to celebrate living a blessed life!

Remember to Eat Healthy, and Eat Smart!

Yours in Training,


Chris Atkinson | Master Personal Trainer, SDO

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