Eating Well When on Vacation

It’s very challenging for most people to stay on the healthy eating track when vacationing. As the author of Clean Plates Manhattan 2011, a healthy and sustainable eating restaurant guide, I often encounter the question, “What should I do if I am not at a ‘Clean Plates-approved’ restaurant?”

Clean Plates guidelines are a great set of tools to aid in choosing a restaurant, but as we all know, it’s not always possible to dine in an ideal setting. Your best tool is to be prepared: prior to leaving for your destination, become familiar with restaurants in the area that serve high-quality and delicious food. Travel guides and the internet are great resources for finding such establishments.

However, life isn’t perfect, and the best-laid plans occasionally fail. No matter how prepared and mindful you are, you may sometimes end up at a restaurant that doesn’t offer the best food options in terms of health and sustainability. So what do you do when the situation arises?

Try to avoid meat if you can. If you eat animal products, choose grass-fed, pasture-raised animals over ones conventionally raised with antibiotics and growth hormones. If you are unsure about how the restaurant’s meats were raised, ask your server—restaurants that serve organic meat products are often happy to tell you about their sources (if your server is unsure or vague, it’s a safe bet that the meats are conventionally raised and should be avoided). If you do decide to order the conventional steak or chicken, balance it with lots of veggies, especially delicious green leafy ones like kale and spinach that are packed with antioxidants to help counteract some of the potential harmful effects of farm-raised meat. Your body—and the planet—will thank you.

Be creative. Many restaurants will gladly accommodate special requests and guests with dietary restrictions—no need to be shy or feel uncomfortable. Look for dishes that feature beans (your protein), a whole grain (think brown rice or quinoa) and/or veggies. You can even ask if they would add any of these components to another existing dish to create an appropriate entrée. Many delicious appetizers, salads or side dishes can also be made into entrée-sized portions or even combined to make up a meal with tasty variety.

A cozy pasta dish (preferably cooked al dente to limit the spike in blood sugar levels) with a salad and side of veggies often makes for a great and satisfying meal. Since most restaurants use a lot of refined salt and sugar in their sauces (not to mention poor-quality oils), it is always wise to ask the chef to go light on the sauce—you could even ask for it on the side so you control how much of it you use.

Most importantly, don’t stress. Follow the 80/20 rule. Simply put, if you eat well a significant majority of the time (think high-quality whole foods), your body will be better equipped to process less healthy foods once in a while. And most importantly, whatever you do decide to eat, enjoy it and then forget about it. Stress and guilt about what you eat is a lot more detrimental to your health than an occasional piece of pie.

-Image from

Jared Koch, Founder of Clean Plates, graduated from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition with certification by Columbia University, Teachers College in 2005 and graduated from the Global Institute for Alternative Medicine in 2004. He is a health coach, nutritional consultant, and certified yoga instructor with expertise in meditation, and he speaks frequently on the topic of nutrition and has spoken at such organizations as Google, Sony, Merrill Lynch, Bank of America, MTV and Time Warner.

Jared graduated from the University of Michigan where he completed a pre-medical program while majoring in economics. With an entrepreneurial spirit, he delayed enrollment in Albert Einstein Medical School to launch an entertainment company with his brother. The company grossed $10 million in annual sales within ten years. Despite corporate success, Jared still felt a strong need to attend to the wellness of others. Upon selling his stake in the entertainment business, he began ten years of wellness study with the likes of Dr. Andrew Weil, Deepak Chopra, raw food guru David Wolfe, and Walter Willett, Chair of Harvard’s Department of Nutrition.

Jared believes in offering individuals and groups that are committed to living a more conscious, healthier lifestyle the education, inspiration, resources, and support to be able to do so.

Melissa Meyers’ passion is to share her best-kept lifestyle secrets and to help people to improve their lives. She began sharing her passions by emailing friends about her discoveries, including her favorite products and services. What started as a hobby soon became a business, and she launched her first lifestyle web site,, the predecessor to

Melissa curates lifestyle content through the PageDaily web site, via articles, blogs and videos as well as social media and television. The information is filled with celebrity and expert tips, tricks and product picks that are available for click to purchase.

Melissa makes appearances as a lifestyle expert on NBC, LXTV, Better.TV, and ABC News Now, among others. She also conducts one-on-one and red carpet interviews, and is a frequent contributor to several publications.

GIRL TALK TIME: Are you going on vacation soon? How do you plan to eat healthy? What do you think of these tips?


Post a Comment
  • Christina:

    This is so hard for me!

  • devonlucille:

    It’s hard for me to eat well, even at home. I’ll do great for a week or so and then have (and give in to) insane cravings for ramen noodles, beef jerky, pringles, steak ‘n shake…..

  • tsw84:

    Vacation is a time to relax and eat what you want. Its only a couple of days and a break from everyday life.

  • teemonayy:

    true… too much of a good thing … huh

  • jane14:

    great tips!!!

  • avatar

    I dont think I could follow those rules… lol. I love food too much!

  • beccahunt:

    I dont think about food on vacation…it’s my break from work, healthy eating and everything else.

  • frugalecook1216:

    I am always watching what I eat so when I’m on vacation I cheat a little. I do work out through out the vaction so that helps. But these are great tips. thanks.

  • melomissy:

    awesome tips :)

  • lumeih:

    I usually do alot of walking on vacation so I never gain weight.

  • smitaarun:

    I wouldn’t worry too much about eating healthy when I’m on vacation , that’s just too much thinking when one should be relaxing and having fun so I would work out a lot before i go on vacation and eat healthy when I’m home and when i get back I will again start eating healthy, one week of eating fattening food probably won’t harm me if I have led a healthy life style most of my life.

  • MsSuperDiva:

    Great tips. I normally go on a diet before going on vaca so if I eat like a pig it won’t be so bad. lol

    1. avatar

      me too!!

  • mwilson11:

    you’re on vacation, why not choose anything you want! just get up in the mornings to run or workout.

  • roxkells:

    This can become quite difficult/challenging when vacationing in all-inclusive resorts (which are common in the carribean). Will power & discipline are absolutely necessary while on vacay.

  • Loveinu "Ree Ree" Simmons:

    good reading i eat lots of seafood while on vacay

  • e2prince:

    Great tips! Definitely hard to stay healthy on vacay!

  • maechell:

    Great tips, I always try to keep the food choices very healthy.

  • toryd:

    Great story and pointers. So many over indulge while on vacation and tend to forget that Vacation is for relaxation and fun and how can you enjoy those if you are going to gorge on foods that are bad for you? You can eat healthy on vacation and it is okay to have something savory once in awhile.

  • williamsmel88:

    thanks for the pointers. I always tend to get sucked into some not so healthy food choices when away from home and it’s starting to show.

  • Joy:

    I usually have the fish dish, I don’t like to cook that at home because it smells up the place so I choose that when I’m out. It’s a healthy choice.


Give Us Your Opinion!

Post a comment as a guest or join now for great rewards!