9 June 2008, 12:32
The essentials. Yes, fabulous shoes are an essential!
Going away on holiday is fabulous. There are hundreds of things to see, great food to eat, intense shop-a-thons, amazing parties, delicious food, mind-blowing art galleries, little streets to explore, fabulous food…
Yes. Like it or lump it, eating is a huge part of the travelling experience. We all need food to live, but we’re never so aware of this fact as when we’re on holiday. Usually you just eat at your desk or make some toast & watch television, & don’t give it a lot of thought. But when we’re trawling the streets for treasures, walking miles a day & staying in a hotel room, it seems like we need constant nourishment. Stopping off at every pizza joint, bakery, ice-cream shop & hot dog stand in your destination is expensive, not to mention unhealthy.
So what about those of us who have experienced the glee of raw food? How are we supposed to eat while we travel? What can we do to make our travels less of a trip to the bloat buffet & more energising, fulfilling & fun?
I hate to say this, but a lot of it comes down to your level of self-control & how you view food. Do you see it as the enemy, or just something your body requires? For me, if I see a cupcake, I’ll buy it & eat it. I don’t believe in dieting, & I had such a restricted view of food for years that these days, I’m pretty chilled out about what I eat. I don’t do guilt over cupcakes, ice-cream, cookies, whatever. I think that if you want it, you should eat it. Being on holiday is pretty much the extreme end of the scale, presenting thoughts such as, ‘Oooh, world famous cake? I better have a slice, since I might never come back…’
However, I also know that if I gorge myself on pizza, bread, pasta, whatever, I don’t feel very good afterwards. My energy slumps. I feel sluggish. My skin performs its own ugly little dance. I get grouchy & I think, “Ugh, I need to eat more raw food”.
Because being on holiday (or “vacation” as you Americans call it!) is so taxing, & because there’s always so much to do at any given moment, the key is to making eating raw as easy as possible. It needs to be even more easy than at home, because odds are good that you’re not going to have your usual things with you. The items in my kitchen that I took for granted, like balsamic vinegar, a blender, salad bowls & sunflower seeds, are going to be in short supply in a hotel room or a sublet apartment. (My kitchen in New York has tools but nothing else.)
The first & best thing you can do is to hunt out a juice bar in your local area. Use Google, ask locals or if you’re in the United States, utilise the power of Yelp! (I love Yelp.) Don’t be tempted to order juice from the hotel — it will be something like $6 for orange juice. Not very economical & you can get one that’s much larger & better for you for about the same price. Find the juice place, & decide to make it your morning routine. When you wake up, maybe even before you do anything else, chuck on some clothes (& dark sunglasses if you don’t look too fabulous first thing in the morning), make your way down there & order yourself a mammoth green juice. It doesn’t need to be all greens but at least ask them to throw some spinach in there. You can’t taste it, it will give you a huge energy kick & your body will soak it up lovingly.
if you have a big ol’ juice in the morning, you’ll find that it will keep you going for quite a long time. Most raw foodists who have been “in the game” for a while find that a decent green juice in the morning means they don’t even think about eating again until late in the afternoon — somewhere around 3 or 4 o’ clock. Though of course, your body may work differently, & you should always eat if you’re hungry!
The second thing I would recommend is hitting up your closest health food store for some vitamins. If you don’t normally take them, now might be a good time to start. Holidays, while typically considered relaxing, can be anything but. People to meet, places to go, lots of walking to get there… it can be exhausting! Couple that with the fact that it may be warmer or cooler than you’re used to, you’re probably drinking less water than usual, & your eating habits are a bit unsettled, & it’s a recipe for feeling run-down. A lot of raw foodists believe that if you’re eating raw you don’t need any supplements, but I’m not sure I agree. I have been taking a women’s multi-vitamin & three Omega 3 tablets every day for a couple of years now, & it has made a huge difference to how I feel day-to-day. I often feel like my brain doesn’t operate at full power until I’ve had my Omega 3 capsules.
Omega 3 capsules don’t need to be fish oil. They can be, if you really really want, but it’s not compulsory. I buy flaxseed oil ones & they work just as well. You may not be able to buy your regular multi-vitamin brand, but speak to someone in the shop & see what they recommend. The other day I bought vitamins that are made wholly from raw food, which is amazing to me, & they’re great.
While you’re in the health food store, you might like to pick up any superfoods or other supplements that you like to have on hand. Then you can just throw them in your juice or whatever works for you. I recommend buying it all when you arrive, not before. Trying to import food into a foreign country can be a nightmare, & if you’re trying to get it into somewhere like Australia or New Zealand, you’re going to be upset when they biff it all in the bin.
I am a huge snack lover & I much prefer to snack on small things throughout the day than have occasional big meals. You’ll make things much easier on yourself if you have bits & pieces scattered throughout your room/apartment/suitcase to eat. As well as saving time — I mean, going out in hunt of breakfast every morning? What a time-suck! — you’ll be less inclined to buy a slice of the incredibly tasty & tempting pizza next door.
What makes a good snack? Well, fruit is the best thing. It’s small, cheap, portable & easy to get your hands on. Pre-chopped vegetables are great too — you can buy them in the fresh section of any supermarket, & they’re trivial to throw in your purse & eat during the day. Other than that, you’ll be surprised by what your nearest health food store carries. I have been amazed to find all manner of packaged raw food snacks, like chocolate/coconut/almond bites, chocolate, crackers & nuts. Even more incredibly, a lot of those things I discovered in a supermarket in Gainesville, Florida — so it can be done!
Stock up. Keep a bag of raw nuts on you at all times. They’re good for you & will help tide you over when you get peckish.
Remember to make an effort to drink lots of water. It keeps you feeling energised & fresh, & helps your brain stay alert. It can be easy to forget to drink water, especially when you’re walking for miles & miles & don’t want to lug a huge bottle around with you. Unfortunately, if you leave it at home, by the time you return at the end of the day, you’ll probably be grumpy & dehydrated with a headache. Not the most fun thing!
Buy yourself a water bottle & start toting it around with you. Glass bottles are the best, though they also tend to be the heaviest & have the highest pain-in-the-ass factor, since they can break quite easily. Stainless steel bottles are probably the next best thing, & companies like Sigg make really cool ones that come in a multitude of sizes & patterns. After that would be plastic, which is best avoided.
Find some places that serve the kind of nosh you’re into. Soystache has a list of raw food restaurants around the world, but We Like It Raw trumps all with a Google map of raw food restaurants in America, a New York-specific map, & a raw food restaurants section on their site with constant updates on new joints to check out worldwide. Woo!
Decide to eat a real raw meal out at one of these places two or three times a week. You will have some incredible meals this way. There will be some misses, too, but it’s all part of the experience. Sit down, savour the food, enjoy yourself. Sometimes raw food restaurants are expensive, that’s true. But honestly, you’re on holiday, food is pretty much always going to be one of your biggest expenses, & you might as well spend the dough on food that is going to make you feel GOOD rather than awful. Make the right choice for your body!
When you’re not out wining & dining, assess your neighbourhood to see what you can use to make yourself meals. If there’s a greengrocer, you might like to start making yourself salads. This can be a little labour intensive though, & there’s nothing to say you shouldn’t just eat a cucumber & a bunch of grapes. You may also choose to up your juice intake & just have one solid meal a day.
Being prepared & flexible
It’s really up to you, but I think the key is to be prepared. Imagine yourself as a girl or boy scout, & think ahead of time. If you only ever leave your house to buy a meal, eat it & then go back home, next time you’re hungry you’re going to be in the exact same situation. Do some shopping, stock up on things you like & know you can eat, & then you’ll never be in that desperate, frenzied, slightly rabid stage of hunger where you could eat anything as long as it might fill the gap!
It might also help to regard your holiday as just that — a holiday. Not an opportunity to prove yourself to the Raw Police! Of course, when you find something that works for you, it makes sense to stick to it, but if you’re stressing out about finding bee pollen when you could be meeting new people, dancing & swooning over architecture, then you might as well have just stayed at home. Allow yourself exceptions. My exception will always & forever be cupcakes. I just love them. This is not to mention the times that you’ll go out to dinner or lunch with a friend & the only thing that looks slightly raw is a salad that consists of some limp lettuce leaves, two pieces of tomato, an olive, an enormous pile of cheese & a litre of creamy dressing. Eep!
Just chill out. Having a sandwich won’t kill you. I always feel like if raw isn’t on the menu, something vegan is my next best bet, followed by something vegetarian, & then ye olde normal food. But hey, you don’t have to be a saint, & you don’t have to prove yourself. I say, if you want to eat something, eat it. Pepperoni pizza, a chicken sandwich, macaroni & cheese… what the hell, why not? Life’s too short to give yourself an ulcer over what you’re eating. Just enjoy it, & remember to focus on the brilliance of what’s really happening: you’re travelling!
Note: Obviously, if you’re staying in a rural area, you might need to cover your bases early. You’ll probably need to be more self-sufficient, & stock up before you go! Really though, just remember to be flexible. When I was in Norway a couple of years ago, I stayed in a cabin in the middle of nowhere with someone else’s family. They served whale for dinner. I really didn’t want to eat it, but I also didn’t want to be rude & there was no other food in the house, so my options were pretty limited. I ate some of it, fought off the impulse to gag, devoured the vegetables they served alongside it, & tried to fill up on soft drink. Situations like this are going to present themselves sometimes, & we just have to do our best.
Extra For Experts:
Raw On The Road by raw model, Anthony.
How To Travel In The Raw, a check-list.
Juicing On The Road — tips from the Juice Feasting Prince!
Airport Musing From Sarma, the owner of Pure Food & Wine in NYC.