Five pounds, ten days. That’s what happened to me on a trip to Puerto Rico. I couldn’t help it. The food and I were both there, and we met, in tropical environments, under moonlit skies, with balmy breezes, fluttering palm trees and no scale in sight. The food was offered, and I consumed. Shamelessly. Often.
Rather than launching into a cautionary tale about what can happen to roving foodies, let me reference Puerto Rico as an example: devouring yucca and malanga chips that are placed in the middle of the table with tomato and mango-laced salsa; eating mofongo (roasted and mashed plantains topped with anything from chicken to lobster), duck breast with daikon radish, Caribbean paella, or a slice of 26-layer chocolate cake. Still not convinced? How about vanilla sour cream sorbet, sweet yucca corn bread or multiple servings of a seasonal pistachio coquito cocktail made with rum, coconut cream, cinnamon and milk?
So what is a hungry human with a normal waistline to do? The answer is: say “yes” to most things, consume other things in moderation, and just say “no” to those things that push you over the top. You know what the “yes” foods are—reasonable amounts of protein and fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and all those other comestibles on the food pyramid or the food plate or whatever is the latest icon of foods that are good for you.
What can you consume in moderation? Grains (whole, preferably), dairy, a little wine, a sorbet here and a chocolate treat there. What should cause you to shake your head from side to side? More than one drink, bread and butter that are served while you wait for your meal, deep-fried foods, anything cooked and served in its own body fat, heaps of rice, mounds of potatoes, clumps of cheese, breakfast pastries, and more than an occasional dessert. In fact, the best strategy is to decline the dessert menu or, better yet, excuse yourself and leave the table before desserts come.
And when you come home, your scale will thank you for your restraint. You’ll be proud of your ability to travel, really enjoy food, and respect your body enough to be the gatekeeper for whatever enters it. But if you have tried to practice moderate consuming on the road and failed, if your trips are movable feasts with increasing girth, then come home, cut the carbs, savor your salads, drink a lot of water, omit sweets, and soon you will be ready to hit the road and practice restraint again.