Chicken nuggets, pizza, and spaghetti.
That’s just a few of the items seen all too commonly on the ‘kid’s’ section of a menu at eateries ranging from upscale to the local hole in the wall.
While many parents are becoming more and more aware of how important it is to be conscientious of what their children are eating at home and at school, all too often even the best eating strategies can go out the window when it comes to dining on vacation.
If the parents’ mindset is such that eating on vacation necessitates making less than ideal food choices, there’s little hope that seven-year-old Michael or three-year-old Katie will, on their own volition, ask the waiter for a crisp salad with wild salmon rather than the default mac and cheese.
In actuality, eating well on vacation really begins with eating well at home.
Below are my top five tips for getting your whole family on a healthier eating system now, even before you leave for summer vacation. By keeping consistent from the get go, you’ll be able to make a much more seamless transition into eating clean while lounging at the beach or camping in the wilderness.
- Don’t be too strict. Yes, cut out white sugar and get rid of anything with gluten. But don’t also add to that an unrealistic ideal of eating too few calories and too little fat. Even though you might not be parlaying the current diet you read about on this week’s top mommy blog, if your little ones see you ‘dieting’, they’re going to start picking up on cues. Instead, up the fat, up the flavor, eschew the sugar for the whole family, and don’t even mention that you’re doing it. Just watch them clean their plates of the duck fat roasted cauliflower far more quickly than they’ve ever eaten their steamed broccoli!
- Pack well for the plane. Studies show that fasting on the plane makes far more sense than eating while you fly (References 1,2,3,4), but for little ones, this may be an issue depending on how old they are. For you, it can be as simple as bringing along a bottle of MCT oil you can whiz into a cup of tea or coffee and for the kids, keep it simple and sugar-free by carrying balanced snacks such as an Epic Bar (choose the varieties without dried fruit), coconut butter packets or raw, sprouted nuts with a tart Granny Smith apple. No need to bring the whole fridge with you!
- Research in advance. Wherever you’re traveling, do a little homework in advance to see what your dining options will be. Often, venturing outside the confines of your hotel can prove to land you in a place where you can experience local, fresh cuisine, allowing you to not only have healthier options, but to support the local community you’re visiting.
- Choose mindfully ahead of time with splurges the whole family will enjoy. If you’re a gluten free family, planning in advance to visit a mom and pop sorbet shop one afternoon in Nantucket after a picnic lunch makes far more sense than not having a plan and ending up eating pretzels and cotton candy because everyone was starving and there was nothing else around. The consequence of eating a mega dose of sugar and gluten is never worth it and won’t even be enjoyed as much as a well thought out, special occasion.
- Keep everyone engaged. Kids want to be heard, so give them a choice; but make it a choice between two options. Rather than having a kid-centric menu with those aforementioned low bar choices, simply scan your own menu and find what the best choices might be. Look for simply prepared proteins as well as veggies and then ask the little ones if they’d rather have grilled chicken on a salad or a beef burger with a lettuce wrap and side of veggies.
If you can keep your mindset as healthy and balanced as possible from the get go, you won’t end up setting yourselves up for that same-old attitude of feeling like there’s good reason to choose poorly on vacation.
The kids will follow suit, regardless of whether what mom and dad do is healthy… or not!
The choice is yours!
 “Science Reveals Why Airplane Food Tastes So Bad – Slashdot.” Science Reveals Why Airplane Food Tastes So Bad – Slashdot. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Sept. 2015
 “Short-term Fasting Induces Profound Neuronal Autophagy.” National Library of Medicine. National Institutes of Health, Aug. 2010. Web.
 Wu, Suzanne. “Fasting Triggers Stem Cell Regeneration of Damaged, Old Immune System.” USC News. University of Southern California, 5 June 2014. Web.
 Virgin, JJ. “5 Reasons Intermittent Fasting Could Become a Bad Idea.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 9 July 2014. Web. 01 Sept. 2015