I just got back from 2 weeks visiting family & friends in Florida. I’m going to share what I ate and some tips for traveling that’ll keep you eating well & staying lean whether you are visiting family, on vacation or a business trip.
Keep in mind, when your health (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual) is high on your priorities, you can find a way to eat well no matter what the circumstances. If it’s not truly high on your priorities, then you will find all sorts of challenges, distractions and excuses.
#1 Rule of Healthy Travel – Plan Ahead
First thing I do is Google my destination and these key words:
‘health food store’
‘cafe or coffee shop’ (often times, small local shops have healthy, organic snacks)
For example, ‘Miami Whole Foods’ or ‘Tampa farmer’s market.’
If you like, you can mail order high quality organic & grass fed foods to your destination. You can mail order organic foods & grass fed meats throughout the USA, simply plan ahead and CLICK HERE for mail order.
I also find local ‘real food’ sources with these sites:
Before I leave town, I know where to find good food in Miami and Tampa. Map Quest it or punch it into your GPS and your good to go.
Does Healthy Eating require more work than Unhealthy Eating?
The truth about the ‘more work’ excuse is you’re already working. There is always work involved. So what is your work producing? Look in the mirror and answer that question. You may have to learn a few new things, but nothing is ‘more work’ when you understand and appreciate your body.
Those who don’t care about their health now will have to work much harder and pay more money in the long run … and thats because MOST people aren’t thinking long term health & wellness. So, remember this…
Short term gratification costs. Long term vision pays.
I always have a massive breakfast before I travel. This is what I had:
Veggies (squash, peppers, tomato, onion, garlic, carrots, celery, chives,, olive oil, sea salt)
3 eggs – pastured hens, from farmer’s market, fried in butter
Bacon – biodynamic & organic, from the farmers market
Preventing Unecessary Stress
Success when traveling means ‘as efficient and smooth as possible’ – that’s my definition. Keep in mind you will be taking off your shoes + belts for security, so dress appropriately to reduce the inevitable stress in advance.
I know its a 3 hr flight with at least another hour of security & checking in. It will take another 30+ minutes to get to Whole Foods. So now I’m looking at 5 hours before my next meal? No way.
I usually bring Navel oranges, bananas, avocado, nuts, energy bars and for longer flights and bring my own prepared meal in a glass container. You can use plastic if you want, but the food I eat often I only store in glass.
Keep in mind that citrus does not work for everybody.
You can eat a big meal before you leave home and bring a snack for the flight or not (depending on how long the flight). I had a fat + protein based meal that I know will give me good energy until I arrive.
Lara bars are all food. Nothing processed and gluten free.
You can also eat at the airport and get a snack at airport. If the flight is shorter than 3 hrs you may not need a snack. This option is more expensive and less healthy. The Jet Blue terminal actually has some impressive food options and if your caught in a bind, JFK is not so bad. Can’t say the same for most other airports though. But as I always say – ‘don’t get caught in a bind.’ Plan ahead and you’ll win.
Remember you can bring your own food on the flight, but you can’t bring water. So don’t pack up water and expect to purchase overpriced waters once you get passed security. The best brands I saw at JFK were Fiji, Volvic & Evian. The worst brands available are Dasani and Aquafina. For a 3 hr flight, I’ll usually bring 1.5 liters of water.
As soon as I get my rental car, I crank up some Cuban music and hit the Causeway for Miami Beach! First stop is Whole Foods and stocked up on Organic Food bars, almond butter, fruit and raw food treats, before I do anything else. I also ask the kids working about other cool, organic or natural food spots. Getting to know locals is key, no matter where you go.
Clean Eating & Dining Out
Remember that most people don’t care about food, their health or bodies as much as we do, so you have to take charge, plan ahead and not be afraid to speak your mind – ever. And yes, people will misunderstand you, make fun of you, freak out or even attack you. This is natural, it is supposed to happen. Accept the fact that you will always have BOTH support and challenge in every endeavor and have a plan and you will significantly reduce stress in your trip/life.
I always let people know that I love Mexican & Italian restaurants. I have found two basic types of Italian restaurants: Tacky, fast food types like you find in small towns or tourist spots. The other type is super nice and has a menu loaded with real food, cooked in butter, olive oil and you can easily order clean meat & veggie dishes.
Friday evening after I settled in, I went out to a Mexican restaurant with my sister, her husband, their 2 boys and my other sisters’ 2 daughters.
Behind these cute smiles, mischievous masterminds are at work!
Most international cuisine and high quality American restaurants have clean food. Small, local stores & restaurants have great food as well.
I typically order guacamole, salsa, 1 or 2 vegetable dishes and an entree of grilled (or pulled) chicken, beef or a seafood. I order red meat medium rare. I keep the veggies raw, steamed or sauteed in olive oil, butter or ghee only.
Is it organic and grass fed? No. This is my 10%. I actually follow the 90/10 rule, but many people can do good with 80/20.
If there is salmon on the menu, you can assume its farmed raised and I don’t eat it. Restaurateurs who are smart enough to know, label their fish as ‘wild’ if it is.
Its easy to get fresh fish in Florida.
I’ll eat food when traveling that’s not organic or grass fed, but I wont eat farmed fish.
Just remember my 80/20 Rule and do your best.
Ultimately, you have to come up with your own guidelines for the 80/20 rule.
There are certain things I never do: gluten & dairy (other than butter) is never on my list. Certain things I always do: drink water, carry snacks with me, eat a lot of good food and get sunshine – without spf – everyday and scout out the best food in town, no mater what.
Chips & Salsa Anyone?
Anyone who eats with me knows I devour the guac, but leave a pile of uneaten chips. So yeah, I’ll use the chips to dip in the guac, but since they are GMO, non-organic corn and fried in a crappy man made ‘vegetable’ oil, I don’t eat them.
Margaritas! Ay Ay Ay !!!!!
The trick to drinking alcohol is:
#1, Don’t have it on an empty stomach.
#2) Have it with fat & protein, ceviche, guac, nuts, etc are a perfect pairing to lessen the harmful effects of alcohol
#3) Respect your limits
#4) How much sugar do you want? If you get a margarita, avoid the margarita mix. Ask for fresh squeezed lime juice instead and if they don’t have that, get some regular juice (orange, pineapple) with your tequila. Same thing for other mixed drinks, choose your poison carefully.
Tequila is gluten free, in case you’re wondering.
There is a lot of false teachings surrounding drinking alcohol. I wrote about hidden ingredients in fine wines HERE.
There are, however, responsible ways to manage your total alcohol intake so as to keep total volume low and reduce the negative effects of it. This is where you apply your 80/20.
Keep in mind, regardless of your metabolic type, alcohol is potent sugar and if you don’t plan your meal accordingly, you will end up with more sugar (Carbs) than expected and feel awful.
There is a lot of confusion about what ‘clean eating’ is. The most important thing to remember when eating clean – is to avoid the poisonous vegetable oils that restaurants use. Also avoid dressings, sauces and anything breaded as they contain allergens, anti-nutrients and damaged oils. No, I don’t eat bread or croutons.
Most places have salads, grilled meat (chicken, beef, fish) and appetizers. Choose your protein first and always ask – make sure your food is not breaded, deep fried or crusted (i.e. almond crusted fish) or sauces. Ask for sauce or salad dressing on the side. For salad dressings, order olive oil & vinegar or lemon. I often order 2 more more vegetable appetizers and skip the salads.
Remember, when eating grass fed meats, you should eat the fat. When eating non organic, conventional meat – don’t eat the fat.
Another great Meal Timing rule is to not eat 1-2 hrs before sleep.
This way you wont go to bed on a full stomach, but you will wake up feeling good and ready to eat breakfast.
Also keep in mind that most people don’t live by the same values, so breakfast may not be a priority if your staying with people or it may not live up to your standards. So planning ahead is key.
Saturday I went with my family to the Indy Car Race Championships. As expected and planned for, there was practically nothing for me to eat there. So I met my family for a massive breakfast and brought snacks with me.
Cuban breakfast in Miami Lakes.
The good looking couple is my Dad and his lovely wife, Tere .
The only water available was my least favorite Dasani and Aquafina. So I drank a few bottles of these glorified toilet waters and noted that that was probably the second time in 2 or 3 years that I had to drink those brands.
After a long weekend in Miami, visiting family and a few nights of dining out, I headed up to Tampa to see my mom…
First stop in Tampa: Whole Foods.
I hit up Whole Foods and stocked up on groceries. This is what I got:
4 lbs Grass fed beef
2 dozen organic eggs
Veggies – broccoli, spinach, kale, onions, garlic, ginger
Bacon – I don’t eat bacon unless I purchase it or know its source
Butter, fruits (apples, bananas, mango) and more energy bars
Everything was organic.
Again, keep in mind that these particular fruits don’t work well for everyone, but tehy work for me, especially when traveling.
Often times in health food stores, you can find locally produced raw food vegan treats. They are delicious, energy dense and HEALTHY. They are usually made with nuts and coconut oil – which I love, so I grab a few of these treats, yes they are expensive but worth it. I would tell you the brand names, but I didn’t save the packaging.
I also found a large styrofoam cooler and filled it with ice. You can get these at liquor stores, gas stations and grocery stores.
All set and ready to go.
I drove out into the wild, undeveloped wilderness of Florida…
I spent the week on a river which is bursting with wildlife including exotic birds, reptiles running all over the place, deer, wild boar, manatees and a massive 10 foot alligator – photos coming soon!!!
My cousins from New Zealand and my 10 yr old nephew Zane visiting as well, so I was super excited! I got quality time with my family and taught my nephew how to handstand and we practiced jiu Jitsu.
I also realized that there is an abundance of gourmet, healthy foods all over NYC. But in Florida, you need to know about Publix. Publix is a regular grocery store. You will notice a lot of people are LARGE and really unhealthy people in this country. it can be sad, disturbing at times, so the take home message from this experience is…
Count Your Blessings.
Publix is everywhere down south and they have an impressive organic foods section.
After two weeks in Florida, I was ready to get home to NYC and watch the Yankees beat the Angels. But i had one more night, cool places to go & friends to meet up with.The Sunday evening, I watched the Buccaneers football game with Becka, a beautiful, healthy, fit mother of 2 who looks like she just stepped off a Kill Bill movie set! No surgery or make up required – she works out and it shows.
FYI – I have a pre/post natal training & nutrition program soon to be released. Please comment below if you would like to see more food & nutrition posts related to this area of women’s health.
I then went out to dinner with my good friend and fellow Nutrition & Lifestyle Coach, Alexandra. Alex looks like she stepped out of The Matrix movie set…Alex, like me, has an edge. She is brilliant and is one of the leading experts in the state of Florida in fitness & nutrition. She scooped me up and we went to a cool little spot called Ceviche.
The place was chill, the music not too loud (unlike many hot spots in NYC), the patrons were cool and the food was slammin’. Tampa and St. Pete are great places to live and visit.
The food was amazing. It was a protein type’s delight!
Before I tell you what we ate, keep in mind that for MOST PEOPLE, the initial reaction when hearing of this dinner can be a tell-tale sign of your metabolic type and your mental conditioning.
Here’s what we ate:
Fresh greens with avocado, hearts of
palm, artichokes, Serrano ham and Manchego
cheese in lemon vinaigrette – Ordered with NO CHEESE
CEVICHE DE ATUN – raw tuna marinated in lemon, lime,
cilantro, jalapeno and sweet onion
ALBONDIGAS – Veal, chorizo and pork meatballs in
a piquant tomato sauce
CARACOLES CON POLLO
Imported escargot wrapped in chicken,
sautéed in a tangy tomato sherry sauce
CODILLO DE CORDERO
Braised lamb shank in Rioja red wine
CODORNIZ DE GRILLADORE
Marinated and grilled quail served over
sautéed spinach, dressed with honey,
garlic and figs
TRILOGIA DE CHOCOLATES
Trilogy of white, milk and dark
chocolate mousse with white
chocolate rum sauce
My vegetarian friends are freaking out right now. If you are veg, don’t sweat it, there are plenty of good veggie options as well.
Yes I checked…everything we ate was gluten free.
Since I cant tolerate dairy, I didn’t touch the desert – but it did look awesome!
If you responded to that dinner by saying how much you would ‘love’ to eat like this – you are most likely a protein type.
If you thought there was too much meat, then most likely your a carb type.
If you could take it or leave it, or it sounds interesting – your most likely a mixed type.
Now don’t get your philosophies all tied up in a bundle – those are rough ideas about peoples’ responses, but yes, your response to food can give you a good indication what your metabolic type is. We are all unique and have biological requirements for optimal health. We also have unique biochemistries and we all respond differently to food.
Often when I talk about healthy eating when dining out, I get some pre-packged knee-jerk response, like ‘too many calories‘ or ‘I’d be bloated for weeks‘ or the ever so annoying ‘thats not healthy.’ But if your response was ‘oh thats gonna clog your arteries’ or you think I’ll get a heart attack, please post a comment and tell me what you think. I’m happy to clear up common misconceptions about ‘healthy eating.’
On the way back to the airport, I found a gluten free energy bar that I believe I only ate once before. Its awesome that its gluten free, but its far from being one of my favorites. Although there are much better bars on the market than this, I’ll give credit where its due.
Kind Bars, thanks for being gluten free and easily accessible at some random Florida gas station where nothing but Planter’s nuts and Gatorade was available. BTW, Planter’s nuts are crap – don’t eat them.
Florida has some beautiful areas but it does present a little more of a challenge to find real food than here in NYC, but remember WHY you eat good food. When you keep your ‘eye on the why’ you will value it more and find a way to get it done.
Florida’s natural wilderness is beautiful. Many people do appreciate its beauty, but not everyone appreciates our natural, symbiotic relationship with nature. Remember this: The further you get from nature, the worse your health gets.
‘Life in all its fullness is Mother Nature obeyed.’
Weston A Price
I easily stuck to my regular ‘diet’ of clean, organic & grass fed food (for the most part). Some places I stuck to a vegetarian (or semi-vegetarian) foods, depending on the quality of meats. The entire trip I only ate meat, eggs, fruit & veggies, drank nothing but water and did yoga every morning in the sun – I lost 4% body fat.
Note – I saw more obese people in 12 hours of being in Florida than I did in the previous 12 months in NYC.
I planned ahead. I bought local organic & grass fed foods. I ate clean, worked out and got lean. I also took some supplements (whole food based) to reduce the physical stress from traveling.
I think its a good idea to have some kind of real food based anti-oxidant or Vitamin C when dealing with extra stress of traveling.
I also fasted for a half day once I got to my wilderness retreat.
I went out to eat several times over the two weeks and not only had a great time with friends & family, but also supported the local farms, economies and most important – our health.
Even on my travels, I support true healthcare at its most critical level, I live what I teach and show how anyone can do the same. Health & nutrition sits high on my core values list. I value my health, my body & energy so I make the right choices. If you want to look and feel as BEST as you can, reduce & prevent ill health, then remember this:
Living a healthy lifestyle, taking charge of your food, your health and being lean is a CHOICE. Choose wisely…
Peace. Talk soon