Vacation mode is a term our family uses when I get into a super silly mood during family vacations. And, while letting my guard down to that level is a very, very good thing for me it can be a little irritating to everyone else. But, for this blog post I would like to also use it to define something else entirely that is not so good – eating with abandon on vacation.
Two places where I let myself eat with No Guilt
There are two occasions where I used to allow myself to eat whatever I wanted and not feel guilty about it – holidays and vacations. I know I am not the only one. How many of you do the same thing? Of course, food should not ever be something to feel guilty about under any circumstance. However, turning off your brain and not thinking about food at all is dangerous and slippery slope. This is not to say that you cannot give yourself a break or have a treat now and then. But, eating with complete abandon is not healthy in any form and the emotional and biological damage lasts well beyond any temporary satisfaction it creates.
A word of caution
What I am cautioning against here is the complete abandon of all consideration into what you are putting into your body. Although a cheat meal isn’t too bad, a cheat day is worse and an entire cheat vacation creates a hole that is very difficult to crawl out of.
Easier said than done, right?
Not at all.
This is a worthwhile goal that is entirely plausible to attain.
Change your mindset
Like anything else it is all about a mindset shift. Instead of the defeatist mentality creating when we tell ourselves something like:
- I have been working so hard so I “deserve” to splurge and eat whatever I want.
I have found a more empowering approach:
- “I have been working so hard and deserve to continue to nourish my body while enjoying myself and living my life to the fullest.”
The latter I experienced this past week.
Vacation mode in Arkansas
I just returned from a week long hunting trip with Billy in Arkansas. This was such a magical experience that I am having difficulty finding the words to capture it but am going to try because I believe it provides a great example of the type of nourishing trip I am talking about.
What makes hunting and fishing so unique in today’s world?
Hunting and fishing are two of the few activities modern humans still have access to that allow us to come together and source some of the most incredible nutrition on the planet directly for ourselves.
What I find ironic about so many modern hunting and fishing trips is that many people spend the entire time eating junk.
I mean pure crap.
Worse food than they would be eating at home – fast food, packaged processed food, soda and energy drinks….
Our fridge looked totally different!
This trip was different. What is unique about this particular group of guys Billy and I were hunting with that in some form or another they are all of from the Keto, carnivore, ancestral diet world. As a result everything, I mean everything we ate was incredibly nutritious and everyone brought something to contribute. Nutrient density, bioavailability and low carb was the focus of ALL of the food. The fridge in the cabin was stockpiled with tons of beef, geese and bacon as well as of butter, lard, eggs (LOTS of eggs), cream, and cheeses. Everyone brought water and Robert Sikes brought a bunch of his Keto bricks which made the ideal hunting snack in the stand.
What made this trip so unique
The foundational elements of the trip were camaraderie, friendship, safety and fun. The values of the guys we hunted with was the gold standard – so much so that I greatly valued not only my time with them but also the opportunity to expose Billy to these fantastic role models. We did a lot of hunting, but we also spent a great deal of time talking about our families, telling stories, sharing personal goals, discussing the finer points of health and, of course, a ton of good spirited humor. That was the foundation of the trip that nourished all of our important “human” emotional and cultural needs. Simultaneously, all aspects of the food met our biological needs.
The entire time we ate incredibly nourishing meals that looked beautiful, tasted great and completely satiated us. We cooked exclusively in animal based fats, ate a ton of meat, eggs and cheese that we all brought and supplemented all of that with what we hunted and foraged during the trip including venison, deer offal, squirrels and wild mushrooms including fall oyster mushrooms and lions mane. We cooked together, ate together, and even butchered together. We implemented a complete nose to tail approach and as a result were able to meet nutritional and ethical standards. Because of the context that was created and the goals we all set for ourselves we never saw any of this as prohibitive or restrictive. Instead, we perceived it all as bountiful – which it was.
Take-aways from our week in Arkansas
I left this trip with great memories, new friends, and a cooler full of meat. I also left a little bit healthier than when I first arrived. So what are my takeaway lessons to anyone trying to replicate this approach:
- Surround yourself with like-minded people with similar goals.
- Set yourself up for success. Plan ahead. Make sure all the delicious nourishing and satiating foods or at least ingredients you need are on hand.
- Go in with the right mindset. Instead of thinking from my defeatist perspective that you deserve to ruin your body because of all the hard work that you put in, instead, remember you deserve to nourish your body and experience life to the fullest – especially on a trip!
- If you were going to eat something bad for the sake of meeting some sort of emotional need do so deliberately. Make sure that you fully realize the decision you’re making and do it consciously.
- Most importantly – have fun, enjoy yourself and create incredible memories.
Here are a few examples of some of our meals we enjoyed this week:
- Bacon burger with deer testicles
- Sous vide venison loin, lion’s mane, deer offal gravy (kidney, liver, spleen)
- Slow roasted venison braciole with pork lard cracklins and fresh herbs.
- Goose confit two ways, confit jelly, fall oyster mushrooms
- Squirrel rilletes, sourdough crackers