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Traveling overseas and dieting/eating well -- Please help

So here is my dilemma. In two days, I am going on a 6-week-long trip to a middle eastern country where I am originally from. I am terribly afraid that I will fall off the wagon while overseas.

Background info: I have been on PT since late May, and lost 16 lbs since I started my new eating and exercising habits about 4 months ago. When I have time to plan I make pretty good food choices. I eat mostly (but not exclusively) vegetarian and try to exercise daily. I struggle most with eating out.

All that said, here are some reasons why I think this this trip might ruin things for me::

1) I don't know how much access I'll have to internet and hence to PT. I have no idea what I am capable of eating/doing if I don't log my food and have my PTs to support me.

2) I am not familiar with the calorie content of the foods I will be eating. In my original country, unlike in the US, nutritional info is not listed on the food you buy. So there will be more guessing/estimating.

3) I will be staying at other people's homes and will have only limited control over what I am served. Also, I will not be able to cook my own food and see what goes in what I eat.

4) I will come in to contact with foods of my childhood and I miss them so much and when I get the chance I will want to eat everything.

5) I have no idea how I can travel around and exercise (but this is the least of my worries, because I figure I can always go for walks)

6) I will meet and be hosted by many old friends and relatives. Socializing ALWAYS happens around food - a lot of it, and we are not talking veggie platters

(On a positive note: My homeland has beautiful fruits and every meal is served with plenty of vegetables and most food is cooked with olive oil.)

I am so scared. Do you have any ideas? Any other expats out there who can sympathize? How can I problem solve so I am not back to square one by the time I am back mid to late August?
I am so worried that I've been dealing with the idea of this trip thru denial. I've just been refusing to think about what it will mean to go on this trip for my diet. But today I decided that I need to plan, because as a friend said recently, not taking action to succeed is taking action to fail (or something equally inspiring like that).

Please help!



Mon. Jul 13, 4:02pm

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Remember, you are in control of what you eat. I know it can be easier said than done, but overeating is a choice you make, it is not something that just happens to you. So you need to consciously decide to eat healthily. Keep your goal in mind at all times; remember, foods from your childhood might make you feel happy in the short term, but the long term effects are not worth that instant gratification. Be strong!
As for making healthy choices, try to fill up on fresh fruits and vegetables as much as possible. Allow yourself other things in moderation (if you can stick to moderation!) There's no harm in treating yourself occasionally, as long as it's the exception to the rule. Try to steer clear or creamy sauces and foods with a lot of oils. Also try to keep portions sizes sensible (when eating food that someone else has prepared, this may be be the only thing you can control). Or offer to help prepare the food, so you can see what's going into it. Let people know that you are trying to be healthier, and ask for your food to be prepared in the healthiest way, if possible.
Last but not least, keep up the exercise as much as you can. That was you can allow yourself the occasional treat without feeling guilty. And not to play devil's advocate, but even if you consumed an extra 5000 cals/week the whole time you're there, you'd probably only put on 6lbs. So don't stress too much, and enjoy your trip!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009, 6:18 AM

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You will be in your homeland and you will be served fresh, home cooked meals. Believe it or not, this can be easier than you think, especially if you decide ahead of time that you will enjoy, but you will not derail.

What I find in other countries is that meals and food is about bringing people together - not just a big food fest where everyone is eating, eating, eating.

Commit to enjoying these meals and really savoring the food and the moment and the company. When we slow down and savor - we thoroughly enjoy and we often eat less.

And if these are foods you love, maybe turn meals into a cooking lesson. Learn how to prepare the foods you love, so you know that this trip doesn't have to be your only access to them. Or, worst case, perhaps seeing how it's made will compel you to eat much less b/c all you see is a big calorie nightmare - if that's the case! lol.

You can do this! Enjoy your trip! It sounds like a wonderful opportunity!

And congrats on your progress so far!!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009, 9:01 AM

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It is very hard to (next to impossible) to stay on diets while travelling.
-Focus on the QUANTITY of food you eat and KEEP PORTIONS SMALL.
-When I travel in the Middle East, if I get sick (That happens now and then over there!) I take advantage of the associated weight loss and I don't purposefully try to gain the weight back. The weight comes back fast enough on its own.
-When I return home I immediately weigh in, put myself back on my exercise program and normal diet, and deal with weight gained without delaying.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009, 4:58 PM

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Portion control! Don't keep eating after you are full and don't eat just for the sake of eating.

Keep a small notebook or journal with you and write down what you eat. Don't worry about cals if you don't know them, just write down everything that goes into your mouth.

It's hard but you can do it!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009, 6:23 PM

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It's TOTALLY possible to stay on track while traveling!

I actually continued to lose weight on an extended trip that I took to Europe. We ate out every single meal, I drank alcohol and had chocolate every single night, but I still came home 5 pounds lighter. And it wasn't even that difficult. I did as the pp suggested - I ate, I stopped before I was full, I didn't eat for the sake of eating, and I enjoyed it all!

Never suggest it's next to impossible!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009, 8:24 PM

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Since you're there for 6 weeks, remember that you don't have to try everything at once; you'll have plenty of opportunity to have everything that you want a few times. You don't have to go crazy at every chance!

Write down everything you eat, whether it's online or in a small journal. Also, write down if you really liked it or not. That'll give you a good idea, as your stay progresses, of what to splurge on and what to pass on. The foods that are really only so-so, even though you remember them fondly from your childhood, don't need to be tried multiple times.

Take time to go for walks and explore the area, with friends and family.

At dinner parties and gatherings, make sure that you spend time talking to everyone. Make the focus the people. Then you really won't be so focused on the foods. You can always make (most of) the foods here when you get back; you can't spend time with the friends and family when you're back.

Good luck, and enjoy yourself!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009, 9:25 PM

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Thanks for starting this thread. I'm taking a four month trip to Europe and have the same fears. I'm really looking forward to the trip, so I don't want fear about gaining weight to consume me. The posters above have some great ideas. I'm definitely going to write down what I've eaten and work to keep portion sizes small.

One additional idea that I had was to use the three bite rule, not just for desserts, but for any yummy hi-cal food. Eating the local food is such an important part of travelling that I'd never want to forgo anything entirely. But do I really need more than three bites to experience it?

Monday, July 19, 2010, 6:52 PM

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