Cheats & Treats: When Being “Bad” is Good (or at least acceptable)

This past week I was lucky enough to be on vacation with my family in Hawaii.  On the way there I spent time writing what I was planning on posting as my Vacation Edition Blog.  I wrote about how horrified I was at the way those around me on the plane were eating, before even having arrived at their vacation destination (I kept thinking, “Why would you waste the calories and fat on airplane food?!?!”); I listed all the healthy foods I brought along knowing there would be little for us to eat on the 5.5 hour flight (PB&J, carrots, bananas, dried fruit, Lara bars, healthy whole-gran, homemade muffins); and I wrote that I would be documenting everything I ate while away to prove the point that eating right while on vacation could be done.

The documentation didn’t happen.  I started it, honestly I did.  But after day 3, I just didn’t feel like it anymore.  And ya know what?  I “cheated” more times than I was willing to admit and still call it healthy.  I went into the trip with the plan to eat super healthy, knowing I’d treat myself here and there, no big deal.  Ok, so I treated myself probably more than here and there, and I did feel some guilt about it.  But then I realized, my bad is better than a lot of people’s best, not to toot my own horn.  My good: oatmeal with fruit every morning; veggie burger or wrap for lunch; fruit for snack; lots of water; plenty of veggies and a salad each day.  My bad: I had an average of 2 cocktails a day (one at the pool, one with dinner – as I watched fellow vacationers drinking from sunup to sundown!); I had coffee every morning; I ate way more fruit and juice than I should have (fruit is healthy but a lot can be too many calories); I had a few onion rings and some French fries; I ate some Maui onion potato chips (God, I love those); I had single meals made with more oil than I’d consume in a week (since I normally consume very little oil, if at all, and only while dining out.  Mind you I asked for no/light oil each meal but apparently most of the chefs didn’t get the memo); I had several servings of sugary sorbet; and I worked out more than half the time but not as often/hard as I normally would.

Know what else I realized?  So what!  I was on vacation.  Granted, that shouldn’t give anyone the excuse to be gluttonous.  However, in my mind, some “treating & cheating” is warranted, as long as there is an understanding between you and your plate that it’s temporary, and that a balance is still necessary, even while on vacation. Many people have difficulty finding this balance, on vacation or day-to-day, I get that.  It takes awareness – in order to avoid mindless eating; willingness – to stay away from things you ‘feel’ like for the greater good (i.e. health), and consistency – sticking with it the majority of the time.  What matters the most, and I can’t stress this enough, is the every day habits.  Day-to-day, the foods we consume need to be nourishing to our bodies, leaving little to no room at the table for the bad. I ate plenty of really healthy food while on vacation, but I included some bad.  That’s one of the defining differences between vacation and everyday life…that and being served by cabana boys, no chores or work, and somebody making your bed and straightening up your house every day.

Take home point: Do your best most of the time – the payoff is huge and totally worth the effort.  The rest of the time, enjoy the little treats here and there.  As an added bonus, you may realize they don’t taste as good as you once thought, or that it takes a very small amount to “hit the spot”.  Be good to yourself, your body, and others each and every day.  Mahalo and Aloha!  Smile