Why is it so hard to eat well on holidays?!!!!

Recently we went on holiday, within Australia, to explore country we had not seen before. While we did have a great time and got to see some amazing country, think dairy farms, vineyards, orchards, beaches & Australian bush, we did find it a challenge to find & eat good healthy food. Whilst the area I was visiting, (Margaret River, WA) prides itself on sustainable agricultural practices, tourism etc, I was dumb founded that my food choices were limited.

Nearly every meal came with hot chips(fries), white bread, very basic salad or vegetable choices, grain fed meat, lots of deep fried food & burgers, burgers & more burgers. The vegetarian options were basic & usually uninteresting. Now we were travelling with others & they don’t have the same tastes that I or my wife have, so we did compromise I guess & ended up eating more crap than we normally would. So when we got home, we were craving “our food” & it took a few days to come good. My digestion was shot & I felt tired, emotional & out of sorts. I did pack our vitamins & green smoothie powder but that just wasn’t enough.

Why is there such a disconnect between what we should be eating & what is available? It seems that food establishments just want turnover, get em in ,get em out & feed em fast. I don’t like it. Sure we were in a new place, didn’t know the lay of the land but it shouldn’t be so hard. Do you have similar experiences or am I a whinger or my expectations too high?


  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,358 admin

    @JodieDownUnder When we went south, I guess now 5 years ago or so, we found the same issues. Good food was very difficult to find (impossible) in restaurants, which we did few of, & even grocery stores. Of course, no raw milk was available anywhere either and that is a staple for us at home.

    We avoid all sorts of synthetic additives. We made that change over many years, 20 years ago and don't want to go back. We have found that food tastes better, & sleep & moods are also much better. Our digestion is better as well.

    With certain artificial ingredients, it will give me an otherwise unexplainable inner rage or vivid, realistic and violent dreams. Certain things that I know affect me, I avoid like the plague. I just hope when we eat out somewhere, that the same additives in those things don't somehow show up in the food.

    When we go visiting friends, it's much the same. I know that we will all have a "nothing day" for a minimum of one day afterward, where everyone is on edge, tired, etc., etc. That stuff has to work its way out of our bodies. I plan nothing for those downtime days. There is no point until we are back into our normal again. Thankfully, since these additives are non-existent in our home, our bodies work through it much faster than if it was a regular part of our diet.

  • annbeck62
    annbeck62 Posts: 994 ✭✭✭✭

    I also find it very difficult. I have to search on the internet for places to eat before I go &/or bring my own food.

  • JodieDownUnder
    JodieDownUnder Posts: 1,482 admin

    @LaurieLovesLearning interesting you say about artificial ingredients & how some make you feel, the inner rage! That is also something that I can relate to. I am normally fairly grounded, calm, mostly unflappable & happy. BUT a few times most recently, I have felt this bubbling up of venom & thought “where the heck is that coming from” So I do my best not to take it out on anyone. I thought it may have been hormonal but I think you’re right, artificial food additives. Do you know which ones to avoid?

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,358 admin
    edited July 2022

    @JodieDownUnder The one that did that in particular was most wieners (which you probably don't eat anyway). MSG (Spice(s)/spice extractives...there are so many forms of MSG), Sodium nitrite is possibly one additive, and sodium erythorbate, sodium diacetate, sodium phosphate. Obviously, the "sodium" is not the same as salt and is an overload of whatever it truly is anyway. It might be the combination instead of just the one thing. Oddly enough, I don't get that feeling from real hams (that still have some of these), and some deli meats like on the odd bought pizza. We prefer homemade, so that is very rare.

    I can eat wieners with cultured celery extract with no issues.

    Sodium nitrite will often cause anger issues in people. One other reaction it also gives is a blank looking through you stare.

    The vivid dream trigger was one of my favorite Christmas mints, Misty Mints. They have lots of colors. I no longer remember the other ingredients.

    To know for sure once I reacted & recognized it after tracking what I ate in the past 24 hours, I tried eating the trigger food again after a couple of days. If it did the same, I never ate it again.

    I've never regretted dropping these things. The reaction was so uncomfortable that I never wanted to experience it again. If these things are at someone's house, I politely refuse, and depending on who it is, I may explain my reaction to that food so they understand. Most are confused about something of that sort, so the explanation doesn't happen very often.

    In the UK & Australia, often these additives are listed with an "e" and a number immediately following. If you find a specific food triggers you, look into the ingredients and try the test.

  • nicksamanda11
    nicksamanda11 Posts: 721 ✭✭✭✭

    I totally get having a "nothing day" after eating a bunch of crap.

  • SuperC
    SuperC Posts: 916 ✭✭✭✭

    @JodieDownUnder I apply the one plate rule at all holidays and events. It’s better to not be full than to be so full that it’s harder to move after eating delicious food arrangements.

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,505 admin

    It is tough when your diet at home is a clean one. But its not just the "crap" food. Sometimes the food can be really good but its not what you would normally eat. Different spices, different meats, different cooking methods. That is enough to upset my digestion. I get tempted to taste really yummy things but when its not what is usual for me, it tends to upset the digestion a bit. I still remember one spectacular meal that included an awesome ceviche dish that caused extreme discomfort later that evening.

    Travelling with others is often challenging because it seems that we are in the minority when it comes to food choices. Other travelling companions usually want something quick when on the road so for them that means fast food. Deep fried foods are one of the triggers for digestive upsets for me. Some of the fast food places now have salads on the menu but then you are faced with the "crap" dressings that they offer. I also find that chlorinated water upsets my tummy. So that means bringing water from home or buying bottled water.

    Not eating regularly has an effect as well. Its difficult if distances make it longer or shorter than normal between meals. I often don't get the same amount of exercise when we are travelling cause it means sitting in vehicles for long periods. That certainly can affect digestion.

    One of the things that we try to do when travelling is find out where local farmers markets are and on which days. Then we can plan our stops and prospective meals around that. You can also find other niche market items at road side stands, fromageries, bakeries, cider mills, fish mongers, etc. But then you need accommodations that allow cooking.

  • JodieDownUnder
    JodieDownUnder Posts: 1,482 admin

    @torey love your last paragraph above. That’s exactly what I did when we ended up in an Airbnb with a good kitchen. I went to the local farmers market & that night cooked up a mushroom & asparagus risotto + salad. Our travelling companions loved the risotto & are going to make it at home. Chlorinated water tastes disgusting and even tea tastes bad. Yes choosing accommodation that suits your needs & budget is definitely something to consider when travelling. I am looking forward to traditional food in the Middle East next year(Egypt, Turkey, Jordan & Israel) so it will be interesting to compare holidays with eastern & western cuisine!

  • VermontCathy
    VermontCathy Posts: 1,920 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I don't think it has anything to do with holidays. It's just the nature of restaurants. Most restaurants serve what most people want to eat, and unfortunately that tends toward processed stuff.

    This is especially true at affordable mid-range and cheaper restaurants. Really expensive ones are more likely to serve fresh food, even if it had to be flown 3,000 miles to get to the restaurant.

    I don't think there's any good alternative to making your own food at home, either from your own garden or from fresh foods grown and purchased locally. There has been a strong rise of interest in healthy, fresh, natural food, but the people going down this path are still a small minority of all eaters.

  • craftycat72
    craftycat72 Posts: 4 ✭✭✭

    Wow, I'm in Gippsland, in Australia's East, we have lots of organics and grassfed meat. We're between mountains and beaches. We also have vegan pods and the local restaurants are happy to cook what we can eat, being dairy intolerant. Nom, Nom....

  • jowitt.europe
    jowitt.europe Posts: 1,411 admin

    @JodieDownUnder that is exactly our problem where er we travel. Thus we never stay in hotels. We look for accommodation with a proper kitchen and then search for place having local farmers markets or big supermarkets with a proper variety. Exactly what @torey suggests. When we travel for a longer time, we do even take our organic whole meal flour for making bread, as healthy bread is not easy to get.

    even here in Austrian Tirol full of mountain huts and Alms where they keep cows in summer the quality of the meals went down. When hiking, we prefer taking our own food for a snack rather going for a meal. Sad. I loved hikes ending with a delicious food up a mountain.

    we eat out from time to time, but I also feel that I need a detoxification afterwards.

    however, as @craftycat72 mentions good places in Australia’s East, we do find excellent places also in our Alps. When we find one, we share information with other hikers.

  • JodieDownUnder
    JodieDownUnder Posts: 1,482 admin

    @craftycat72 & @jowitt.europe exactly my point. If you know an area or have friends that give good recommendations, then food choices are not such a big deal. If you travel interstate or overseas, it’s hard to know what to expect. I know my local area & if I want to eat out, then I know where to go. When travelling, then a slightly different story, you can luck in or luck out. Even using technology & googling reviews on eating establishments can be dodgy.

    We do try to use accommodation with a kitchen, so we can be a bit self sufficient but that’s what holidays are all about, having time off from the usual, exploring new things & taste sensations. I just think that the average cafe/restaurant do not realise what healthy food is or what is tastes like, there is a real disconnect between what the body requires & what is served up. Certainly something to plan for on future travels.

    @craftycat72 welcome to the forums. It’s great to see another Aussie here. I’m up on the mid north coast NSW, near Coffs Harbour.

  • water2world
    water2world Posts: 1,088 ✭✭✭✭

    @JodieDownUnder I think it's a combination of all of the things mentioned above! We have been guilty in the past of using some of the same reasonings--no longer. I have favorite stores where I can usually find healthy food, but I really like @torey idea about locating a farmers market!