How is it that you can go on a trip around the world, enjoy incredible foods and a relaxed lifestyle, and still manage to lose weight? Well, the secret is not in the travel; it is in the habit that long-term travel creates. You can easily learn how to eat like a traveler and lose weight without ever leaving home. Hey, you can even drink the water!
Over the last 11 months of travel, we have each lost about 20 pounds. We wrote before about how much easier it was to eat sensibly when living your dream (no more need to stuff that unquenched desire down your gullet!), but there are also some habits that contribute to these healthier, “sveltier” bodies. After several requests for more info on how we got our skinnier butts and guts, here is our top 5.
Live life in the slow lane
Long-term travelers live in the slow lane, enjoying the world around them because they have nothing else on the agenda, and this kind of appreciation of eating and food preparation comes naturally. When you live in the slow lane, you do everything at a more measured pace. There is no need for fast food when you don’t need to eat fast.
By learning to appreciate your food – in the planning, preparation and consumption of it – you will feel satisfied more quickly, actually enjoy eating it, and think about the food going into your body – the flavors! the textures! – instead of answering email, driving, or watching television.
You will gladly spend time planning your lunch for work the next day, the breakfast you’ll have in the next morning before leaving, or the dinner you’ll enjoy when you get home from work. Once you make this switch, you’ll enjoy food far more than you do now, which makes the planning something to look forward to.
Buy only what you need
Travelers have limited space and can typically only shop for 1-2 days at a time. This seems like a drag when you consider how often you have to go to the store or market, but in practice it is actually refreshing. You can make what you want instead of what you thought you wanted last week when you went shopping. And there is no snack shelf/drawer for mindless nibbling.
We determine what we’ll be cooking and what meals will be eaten out every evening for the next day. This helps us plan our grocery shopping, makes trips to the market or store quick and painless, and keeps us from eating extra junk because there just isn’t any sitting around. If we want a treat, we buy it that day and eat it. By focusing on needs instead of planning for every possible want, we can satisfy those needs now (and the other needs later).
Walk or bike everywhere you can and buy only what you can carry back home
Long-term travelers usually don’t have cars. We buy our groceries on foot or on bicycle or with public transportation to take back to our hostels or rentals. There is no pile of junk food when you shop this way because it is simply too heavy or too bulky to carry.
Buying groceries on foot or on a bike is the perfect way to keep your purchases to a minimum. You get the exercise and the shopping challenge of buying only what you can carry back. We have a couple of sturdy fold-up shopping bags that we carry in our backpacks and we use them almost daily.
Eat what is in season
Do you know what is in season now? By buying what Mother Nature deems ready, you will always have the freshest, best-tasting food. Indulge in white asparagus in the spring, blackberries at the end of summer, corn and apples in the fall, and even kale and leeks during the winter.
Long-term travelers do not have the option of putting things in the freezer or easily hauling around cans, so they depend on what is locally available and in season, and they eat tastier, more satisfying food because of it.
Live an unprocessed life
The best part about long-term travel is the unfiltered lens through which you get to see the world. The same holds true for the food, since pre-packaged, processed food is always less interesting than what you can create yourself with natural ingredients (equally true for non-travelers, but easier to overlook for the sake of convenience).
When you choose to nourish yourself from the source, be it “real” food (foods that are in or very near to their natural state), experiences, people, and destinations, you get an unfiltered, unprocessed experience that is up to you to decode and utilize in your life. A processed life is decoded for you by someone else who determines the taste, consistency, and nutritional value you need.
Real food beats a pack of Twizzlers any day (and I used to LOVE those things).
The stay-at-home travel diet
It doesn’t take a passport, a plane ticket, or exotic foods to help you lose weight. You can take every one of these travel tips and use them in your everyday life.
- Live life in the slow lane
- Buy only what you need
- Walk or bike everywhere you can and buy only what you can carry back home
- Eat what is in season
- Live an unprocessed life