For over 2 weeks, I had most of my meals prepared by Karel's mom.
And we only ate out five times in the 3.5 weeks throughout our time in Austria and Czech.
I can't tell you how many new foods I tried or how many times I yummed.
It's very common that eating outside of your home environment, whether for a work conference, an event, vacation or celebration, can make you feel a lack of control, thus making you think you are doing something wrong.
I also hear individuals talking about how they feel after eating when traveling, using words like gross, fat, heavy, bloated and uncomfortable.
After extended periods of eating outside of the home environment, it's common that individuals will say things like "I need to cleanse" or "I need to get back on track" or "I'm going to be really good for the next 4 weeks" or "I need to diet".
There can be an immediate need to gain control and in the mind, the "best" option is to be extreme and restrictive with eating choices in order to feel better again.
I understand that sometimes we have great eating intentions and try to make good eating decisions in certain situations but hunger, wanting to please others, peer pressure, lack of variety or minimal available food options can lead to eating choices that are not nutritious, performance enhancing or comfortable in the belly.
Life will still go on, you'll digest the food and you'll be ok.
I can't speak for every situation but I will encourage you to think about your eating choices when you travel.
First off, I don't believe that you should ever eat something that makes you feel physically bad inside.
This extends beyond clinical issues or a food intolerance or allergy.
You do not have to eat something just to please someone else.
You do not have to eat something just because everyone else is eating it.
You do not have to eat something just because you feel you need to clean your plate.
You do not have to eat something just because you are on vacation or traveling.
You are allowed to say no to food.
However, sometimes, it is good to say yes.
Broaden your taste buds, try new things, indulge yourself and get inspired by new creations.
If "healthy" eating takes up way too much space in your life, meaningful life experiences will be missed because of extreme thoughts about food and the body.
As I return home from 3.5 weeks of eating a lot of bread (every day), eating dessert at least once a day, having lunch as my biggest meal every day and trying a lot of new creations, I feel just as healthy now, as when I left for Europe.
As I mentioned, not every traveling experience is the same but I feel that sometimes, we all need these eating experiences to break out of the normal routine and appreciate (or at least try), a new style of eating.
My biggest take away during my 3.5 weeks in Europe was not thinking about food as being only healthy or performance enhancing. While I feel these are two important reasons as to why we should select the foods that we eat, I also felt a tremendous amount of joy by just eating.....for pleasure and not just for "nutrition".
It's so easy to make food/meals quick, easy and tasteless or feel uninspired by food, stuck in a food rut.
While there is nothing wrong with the foods I mentioned, I was so inspired by my trip to Europe that I really want to continue to try new things when it comes to food and eating.
Even though nothing was wrong with my previous eating habits, my eating in Europe was such a pleasurable experience and it reminded me how much I love to yum over food.
It also showed me that even as a board certified sport dietitian who spends every day helping athletes with body composition goals, health and performance, I spend a lot of time talking about health, nutrition and performance but not nearly enough time encouraging athletes to simply eat for pleasure.
Sadly, in our body obsessed society, I believe that our culture has lost the need to eat for pleasure as it's easy to assume that only those who eat for pleasure will eat "too much" or eat "unhealthy or will not lose weight or will gain too much weight.
Is it not possible to eat for pleasure and still reach and maintain health and performance goals?
I believe it is possible.
Not only was this meal super scrumptious, but it prompted me to write this blog.
You can't ask for a better meal to practice your "eating for pleasure" skills.
I believe this meal is healthy and performance enhancing but I have no doubt that you will yum over every bite, thus feeling great pleasure when eating it.
And no, you do not have to wait for your next long ride or run to "deserve" to eat this meal after your workout is complete.
You are allowed to eat this meal for breakfast, any day of the week.
Blueberry and Cream Cheese Stuffed French Toast
1/4 cup 1% milk
1/4 tsp sugar
Butter (about 1 tbsp for skillet)
4 slices bread
Cream cheese (to your liking)
Maple Syrup (to your liking)
(I didn't have the ingredient list, only the steps for prep, so I reached out to Joey so that I could share this creation with you)
1. Whisk together eggs, milk and sugar.
3. Heat skillet to medium heat and then add butter to coat pan.