These past couple of weeks, I was traveling around Europe, visiting Amsterdam (where I used to live), Cinque Terre, Italy, Cannes, and Nice, France.
While I’ve posted a food log of a typical day’s food intake before, I thought it might be interesting for some of you that travel often to see an example of what I might eat when away from home.
Keep in mind that though I do try and eat healthy as often as possible, I thoroughly believe in following the 80/20 rule in order to stay sane, especially while doing something extra special like visiting another country.
Because while it’s great to choose healthy choices whenever possible (lots of salads, veggies, protein-filled breakfasts, etc.), it really just isn’t always possible to eat 100% healthy when you’re away from your usual routine. But you know what? That’s perfectly OK. Life is meant to be enjoyed, and there’s zero point on missing out on delicious food when you’re someplace new or extra special.
In the long run, you’ll regret not eating the croissant, the fresh pesto pasta, the macaroon (or whatever the local specialty is) more than you’ll ever regret eating it.
Because as long as you’re still active, make it a priority to work out consistently, and try and walk as much as possible, you probably won’t even put on much extra body fat (unless, of course, it’s over a long period of time). Life is meant to be enjoyed, after all.
The following day’s food log was recorded on a day when I started out the morning in Cinque Terre then took a train to Cannes, France. Keep in mind that I am a vegetarian, so that definitely limits my food choices (and to be honest, it would be way easier to eat healthy if I wasn’t one).
Here is my travel food log for Thursday, October 2nd:
Meal #1: Pre-workout
- Pre-workout drink
- Small plum
Though I normally prefer to wait an hour or two after I wake up to work out, whenever I travel I usually get it over with first thing so I don’t have to think about it the rest of the day.
Since I can’t really work out on a full stomach, I still make a point of eating something beforehand so I don’t totally crash in the middle of all my burpees and push ups. Normally I’d try to keep a few bananas in my hotel room since they’re a great source of quick energy, but in this case all I had available was a small plum and a pre-workout drink I packed with me.
It worked OK (meaning I was able to finish my workout without getting dizzy), but ideally I’d have had a little more food beforehand (a banana or a little oatmeal plus some protein) to give me more energy to crush my workout.
Total calories: 70
Meal #2: Post-workout
- Protein shake (Cellucor chocolate whey protein)
Whenever I travel, I make a special point of packing enough protein powder with me so that I can have a simple shake after my workouts.
Not only is it cheaper to being your own than to have to buy a big tub of it wherever you’re going (and then have to throw the rest away when you leave), a lot of places outside of the U.S. don’t even have protein powder available, so by bringing it with me I always know I’ll have some.
Plus, as a vegetarian, it ends up being a crucial source of my daily protein and also helps my muscles recover after my workouts.
Total calories: 120
Meal #3: Breakfast
- 2 hard boiled eggs
- 1/2 cup chopped strawberries, cantaloupe and apples
- 1/4 cup unsweetened muesli
- 3 Tbsp yogurt
- 1 small cappuccino
The place we were staying in Cinque Terre came with breakfast, so I did my best to get enough healthy food each morning with what they offered.
Luckily, unlike most standard American breakfasts, Europeans don’t eat a bunch of sugary crap each morning, so I was able to get hard boiled eggs (a great source of protein), fresh fruit, and a small amount of unsweetened muesli (close enough to oatmeal and better than sugary cereal options.)
While I would have preferred Greek yogurt (for the extra protein) or at least unsweetened yogurt, all that was available was fruit yogurt, so I kept my serving size to just a couple of tablespoons in my fruit and muesli. I also had a small cappuccino, because, well, it’s Italy!
Total calories: 360
Meal #4: Mid-morning snack
Along with my protein powder and pre-workout drink, I usually try and bring both some greens powder as well as some protein bars with me whenever I travel.
The greens powder ensures I get enough good green nutrition even when there aren’t a lot of veggies available, and the protein bars help keep me from snacking on too many unhealthy snacks like pastries and chips.
Total calories: 165
Meal #5: Lunch
- 2 slices whole wheat sourdough bread
- 3 ounces crumbled tofu (approximate)
- Cooked leaks
- 3/4 ounce fresh mozzarella (approximate)
- 1 1/2 cups baby greens
- Shredded carrot
- 1 Tbsp olive oil and vinegar mix
- A small pinch of flor de sal (aka sea salt)
- 1/2 cup fresh strawberries
We were headed to France mid-morning but had to change trains in Genoa, Italy, and had only about an hour to get lunch.
Worse case scenario I probably would have gotten a simple cheese and tomato sandwich and a salad if possible—but we found this great little place full of organic food and pretty healthy options not too far from the train station so I was happy.
Total calories: 430
Meal #6: Mid-afternoon snack
- 1/2 Quest bar
- 10 almonds
When I was in Amsterdam, I picked up these natural almonds at my favorite Dutch grocery store—a great option for snacking any time of the day. Combined with a little protein, they helped keep me satisfied until dinner (although ideally I would have added a piece of fruit as well).
Total calories: 165
Meal #7: Dinner
- 1 vegetarian samosa
- 3/4 cup Indian Dahl (approximate)
- 1/2 Aloo Gobi (approximate)
- 1/4 cup Basmati rice
I wouldn’t normally choose Indian food for dinner because it tends to be very high in carbs and depending on the restaurant, can be pretty greasy, but my options in Cannes were pretty limited.
It was either that or pizza or pasta (and I’d already had plenty of those on my trip), so I opted for the Indian food and tried to get as many veggies in as possible as well as limit the amount of rice I had. Overall not the best choice, but not the worst either.
Total calories: 660
Meal #8: Late night snack
- 1 chocolate chip Quest bar
- 1/2 ounce 85% Dark chocolate
I pretty much have to eat at night or else I wake up starving at 3 a.m. And since I was working out first thing in the morning, my body really needed the extra fuel each night, and this night was no exception.
I was pretty happy about this snack because not only did it satisfy my sweet tooth, the Quest bar (which I warmed in the microwave to make it taste a million times better) actually filled me up, unlike so many snacky foods.
Total calories: 270
So how did I do?
Here were my total macros for the whole day:
Total calories: 2,240
Overall, I was definitely higher in carbs and lower in protein than I would have liked, but I was happy that I got some good vegetables in throughout the day and also that the hotel offered a fairly healthy breakfast.
I did my best based on what was available, and also knew going into the trip that my nutrition would not be perfect (and that’s OK!).
Because while I did come back from my trip definitely feeling like I had indulged a little bit, indulging while on vacation really isn’t that big of a deal—as long as you’ll naturally go back to eating healthier again when you get back to your usual routine.
Also eaten on this trip:
- Thin crust pizza
- Lots of salads
- Qwark (similar to Greek yogurt)
- Trofie pasta with fresh pesto
- A chocolate croissant
- Assorted veggies whenever possible
- Dutch cheese (my favorite is Oud (aka old) Gouda
- And lots more!