Home Tools For Weight Loss BGG2WL In NYC: How Do You Eat While On Vacation?

BGG2WL In NYC: How Do You Eat While On Vacation?

by Erika Nicole Kendall

In yesterday’s post, I wrote about working out while away from home. And, while I’m sure there are plenty of people who quite frankly don’t want to think about all that while on vacation, the really big thing, for me, is that I don’t carry that “I don’t want to think about working out” mentality back home with me. I know myself. I’d start losing like it’s nobody’s business if I did that.

That leads me to my next part of the series, and that’s how to eat when on vacation.

In my mind, vacation should be a time where you’re able to enjoy the different flavorings and offerings around you. If you’re simply vacationing back home with your family? It’s an opportunity to grab a nice home cooked meal from someone who loves you. If you’re in a new city? Oh, it’s time to go exploring. Yes, yes it is.

Two awesome turkey burgers from Bareburger, an organic burger joint in Brooklyn, NY.

Now, as a person who rarely – and I mean rarely – dines out at restaurants, it was quite the change to dine out every single night for dinner, sometimes twice a night, because we’d be meeting up with other friends. I loved being able to dine at a restaurant and not be able to say “I could’ve cooked that better myself and saved my money!” Finding little hidden spots all over NYC – literally all over NYC… and I’ve got the legs and worn down high heels to prove it – that were actually inspiring enough for me to scribble down what I ate and snap photos, because I wanted to try the dishes at home.

So how do you balance when you’re out? How do you ensure that you can enjoy the good stuff, while not overdoing it? Here are my tips:

Be a food snob. I’m serious. Set standards… and abide by them. I hate to say something so cliche, but the vacation dining experience is precious and shouldn’t be wasted on crappy food, or food from restaurants that you can find at home. Nothing is more frustrating than walking down Ocean Drive in South Beach and seeing a certain super-franchise restaurant be completely full, while much better quality restaurants sit virtually empty. Don’t be afraid to try something new. Avocado stuffed with crab and shrimp? Go for it. Korean-fried chicken (which I spent days trying to figure out the “secret”?) Try it. Heaven forbid you fall in love with it!

Prioritize one meal for the day, and let that be the only meal where you “dive in nose first.” For me, dinner was the end all, be all. An apple around breakfast time, a sandwich a little later and half the menu for dinner. I’m kidding… sort of.

The Creme Brulee trio, from Alta Restaurant in Greenwich Village, NY.

Raw foods are your friend. For something quick, light and able to be eaten on the go, raw food is absolutely your best bet. I won’t even harp on the fiber, energy and nutritive benefits that come from raw foods (I’m a big raw foodie, so I couldn’t help but mention them, though.) If you’re always on the move, grab a couple pears or peaches and head out the door.

Eat only when you’re hungry. Spend that precious time enjoying yourself, not trying to get in “six small meals a day” every day. It’s one thing to cling to that lifestyle at home, but on vacation you’ve got plenty of things to do… don’t waste that time trying to stick to an old regimen in a new environment. And when you do eat, don’t overdo it. Dine on dishes that are flavorful, so that it takes you some time to enjoy what it has to offer… and allows you the time to fill up without simply stuffing yourself.

If you’re in a situation where you’re dealing with someone’s home cooking (and the quality of the ingredients is in question), eat before you eat. You might decide that you’ve “got it like that” where you can turn down anything that doesn’t meet your standards, which is the ideal, but not everyone is that far along in their journey. I’m serious – if you know that you’re at Mama’s house, and she’s gonna fry up some chicken just the way you love (loved?) it, complete with flours and strange frankenstein-ish oils, then creep to the store and grab a small bowl of pre-cut and pre-chopped pineapple or watermelon and eat those before dinner. You might lose your appetite entirely, or you may very well decide to taste those familiar tastes and see if they have the same effect on you as they did before.

The funny thing about these tips is that, really, you can – and should – live this way at home. The reason so many of us don’t has more to do with converting out of our previously unhealthy lifestyles, and the habits we’re battling and learning to compromise with. You never know – you very well might be able to use your vacation to jump start a few changes at home!

What did I leave out? How do you eat healthily while on vacation?

You may also like


seejanesweat August 16, 2011 - 1:03 PM

I try to eat healthy while on vacation but I don’t always suceed. This year however I was very careful not to get crazy.

Joyce August 16, 2011 - 2:19 PM

I don’t know about the Korean fried chicken you had, but I can tell you the secret of my Auntie’s korean fried chicken wings–and it’s the best I’ve ever had. She actually removes all the skin and fat from the wings (takes forever!). Marinates them overnight with a bunch of garlic, and a touch of soy sauce and toasted sesame oil and ginger. Then, when she fries them, its a corn-starch based batter (I haven’t figured out the exact recipe–I think she dips it in corn starch, then in milk, then back in corn strach). And she (and I know a lot of Koreans do this), fries them 2X. Then after they are super crispy and delicious, she does a quick toss of them in a saute pan with her sauce (that I also haven’t perfected–definitely a bit more soy sauce, sesame oil, honey, hot pepper, and a touch of wine).

Erika Nicole Kendall August 16, 2011 - 3:26 PM

You’re exactly right – it’s the cornstarch and double-frying. Went to a place that explained the double-frying technique, but wouldn’t budge on the recipe. Figured THAT part out on my own. LOL

MP August 16, 2011 - 3:31 PM

I don’t want to be too off-topic, but who better to ask? Would you drop a quick comment on restaurants that you recommend in South Beach/Miami? I’ll be vacationing there later this month.

Erika Nicole Kendall August 16, 2011 - 3:41 PM

LOL! I’ll see what I can do.

Jennifer August 16, 2011 - 4:05 PM

Make and take your own snacks. This comes in handy if you, like me, drive to a lot of (not so) far off destinations. I recently came back from the beach where kept myself on track with homemade organic trail mix , peaches, and a few organic peanut butter bars. I’d chomp the trail mix in the car instead of pulling over and getting something. I also took the mix and the peaches to the beach so I wasn’t tempting to go in search of the really tasty smelling hot dogs the boardwalk vendors had.

Liz August 16, 2011 - 4:21 PM

Just got back from a week in San Juan, and I actually lost a pound, so I consider myself an expert on this topic! Best idea EVER (maybe I got it from you or one of your readers): when ordering from a menu in a restaurant, get a “to go” box when you place your order. That way, you can divide your meal, put half in the box, and eat the smaller portion on your plate. It works! In some instances, I had lunch and dinner the next day from my leftovers! (I had a small fridge in my hotel room, which was ideal.) Faced with a daily breakfast buffet included in my vacation package, I filled up on fresh fruit–papayas, mangoes, grapefruit–and stayed away from breads, juices, and waffles. One day I had an egg white omelet with spinach and tomatoes, but then I found Greek yogurt, and I was in heaven. I also drank lots of WATER instead of beer or fancy umbrella drinks. Best of all, I took advantage of the fitness center at my hotel, and treated my body to steam baths and saunas after a morning workout. I came home feeling relaxed and wonderful, and lost weight in the deal. Sweet!!!

Kait August 16, 2011 - 4:25 PM

This is the thing I struggle with the most on vacation because being a vegetarian + clean eater is pretty difficult in some parts of the country (after all you can only eat so many garden salads full of limp lettuce and two tomatoes before that veggie burger and fries looks MIGHTY fine). I’m a big fan of hotels with kitchenettes so I can always cook if we are stranded in the middle of nowhere, cities where there are plenty of amazing options, and stopping at local grocery stores for fresh fruit, nuts, etc (or grabbing them before I go). I tend to travel with a LOT of food (a recent trip to Vegas included a loaf of cornbread, a jar of almond butter, and a bag of apples…it made breakfast cheap, fast, healthy, and DELISH) so that my mid-day hunger pains are solved by something wholesome .

CJM August 17, 2011 - 9:18 AM

Buy a ton of fruit as soon as I get there. This serves two purposes for me. I can munch on it throughout the day and at night when I want dessert to “close the day” I eat a piece of fruit. This is not a low carb or good for a diabetic option but it works for me. I’ve also found that I am much more attuned to my hunger signals when I am away from work and guess what my body only wants a full meal twice a day (breakfast and generally again around 4). In between it’s the fruit and my trusty can of almonds (the ginger lime and wasabi soy are addictive). I tend not to count anything but I’m cognizant of what I’m putting in and how my body feels.

CJM August 17, 2011 - 9:19 AM

Oh and I forgot…I tend to try my best to eat what the local people recommend that I eat. Most memorable meals of my life have been in some iffy places.

Cassandre October 30, 2011 - 10:22 AM

One strategy that works for me to eat healthy while on vacation is to leave healthy snacks in my bag.. so that as I’m walking i’ll munch on some dried fruits, granola, etc.. just so that i won’t over do it when i do finally eat.. also, drinking a lot of water..

korean fried chicken, take it you had the pleasure of going to k-town… did you check out Kyochon restaurant? best korean wings in NYC

Erika Nicole Kendall October 30, 2011 - 10:16 PM

No, buuuuut since I’m on a mission to try all the wings in NYC… *scribbles this down on my list*

Elle October 9, 2013 - 5:16 PM

Great article! I agree with all of your advice.

Just to add in, I spent 3 months traveling through Southeast Asia recently and I only gained about 5 pounds. So I would say it really depends on what you’re doing on vacation (I spent some time hiking / bike riding), how long you’re going (how long can you splurge), and where you’re going (what kind of foods do you have available).

I pretty much ate a lot things I have never had before and a lot of food. But when you’re literally walking around attractions all day, it’s not so bad. Also, at least Asia, there’s the opportunity to eat a lot of curried or sautéed vegetables which really helps when trying to make a choice eating out in Asia. Chinese broccoli in oyster sauce with garlic is my friend…

And I definitely agree w/ buying fruit- sometimes it is worth going to an “international” store to get some non-exotic fruits that you actually like and fruit&nut bars to eat while traveling around. If you can find a Starbucks in an asian airport, they always have bananas and apples for sale which is so helpful when you’re in a rush to catch a flight or just getting in somewhere and you’re starving.

Danielle October 11, 2013 - 4:05 PM

To comment on Korean Fried Chicken, in Queens we have UFC in Elmhurst http://www.yelp.com/biz/ufc-unidentified-flying-chickens-jackson-heights-2, but THE PLACE to hit up Korean Fried Chicken, or anything Korean is in Flushing, Queens. Kyedong is damn tasty! http://www.yelp.com/biz/kyedong-fried-chicken-flushing and there’s http://www.yelp.com/biz/kyochon-flushing but my understanding is it’s more talk than walk. Don’t bother with fries, beer is not special but is a good accompaniment, and their picked daikon is really tasty, but super simple to make. I will be making some soon!

Erika Nicole Kendall October 13, 2013 - 11:05 AM

Now that I actually LIVE out here, I know well enough how Flushing is Legend. Not “legendary,” but “Legend.” Capital letters and alladat. LOL!

It’s nice to have some recommendations, though! I know a couple of places in the city that make fantastic Korean fried chicken, but I’ve never made it out to Queens for any.

Comments are closed.