Summer is (almost) officially upon us. With the warm weather of Summer ushers in with it the thrill and excitement of vacationing with extended family. With those vacations can also come heart ache, anxiety, judgment and misunderstanding.
Makes you want to unpack the van and have family movie night instead doesn’t it?
Vacationing with extended family is a great way to catch up on the happenings in others’ lives while you’ve been apart and allow younger cousins and second-cousins to get to know each other. It can be a great time had by all.
But what happens when you are vacationing with family who are unbelievers, who don’t subscribe to your food philosophy or maybe have unlimited financial resources to your modest budget?
In this three-part series we’re going to take a closer look at these issues and ways to handle them. First we’ll tackle food, then finances and wrap up with matters of faith.
Part 1: Whole Foods in a SAD World
Maybe you take an all or nothing, hard-and-fast approach to your whole foods diet.
Maybe you take a balanced and “in moderation” approach.
Either way, if your family doesn’t subscribe to your food philosophy and doesn’t understand the benefits of following a whole foods diet there can be turbulence.
Here are some tips to keep things in perspective and practically help you along the way.
Be Respectful – first and foremost be respectful in your speech and attitude when dealing with food and family. Food, while it is not the most important thing in life, can have sentimental attachments, memories and feels associated with it. Food correlates with tradition in many families and cultures. Even if you no longer see the need to eat a particular item be respectful of those who do.
The cake Aunt Ethel made with white sugar, store bought eggs and bleached flour was probably made with love and a spirit of kindness. Please don’t say “Oh I would never put that toxic, cancer-causing cake in my body.” First, you are going to crush Aunt Ethel and secondly how open do you think she, or anyone else for that matter, is going to be to hearing why you eat the way you do.
It may seem right to lash back at someone who is judging you and mocking you but it is not. Do not fall into their negativity.
Come Prepared to Explain – Most likely you started with a Standard American Diet and have developed a different appreciation for whole food over the years. You learned from someone (personally or online) and you gleaned information from them over time. What drew you to them or their site? I’m sure it wasn’t constant criticism of what you were currently eating or not eating.
Be prepared to explain, open and honestly why you have chosen to eat the way you do. No one wants to hear “because” or “it’s healthier this way.” If someone is genuinely curious about how you’re eating be ready to give them some details. You don’t need Michael Pollan like words or Joe Salatin experience to explain why a pastured hen’s egg is better than a factory farmed egg. Just give them honest answers.
Ignore the Criticism & Draw a Boundary – Of course you may have a family member or two that just seems to enjoy stirring up trouble and tension. Know beforehand that no matter what you say or do they will find something to hassle you about. I have a very close family member who does this every chance he can get. It drives me crazy and after awhile it’s frustrating and exhausting dodging his comments and snide remarks. I’ve learned to play along for a short time and then just walk away (sometimes literally) from the conversation.
We think because we’re family we can say whatever we want and its ok. Well, it’s not ok and you do not have to be belittled or disrespected. Tell them you’re not going to argue with them nor are you going to continually justify your food choices to them. If they genuinely want to know you’ll tell them, otherwise the subject of food is off limits.
Discuss Compromise Points Ahead of Time – Are you willing to eat at McDonald’s while traveling to and from the vacation destination? Will you eat Aunt Ethel’s cake but only the day she presents it….no leftovers? I cannot say enough about you and your spouse being on the same page (we struggle with this one in our family).
If your dietary choices are not due to allergy or specific health-related reasons are you willing to makes some compromises during vacation week? What things are you absolutely not willing to budge on?
For us, I’m not willing to budge on the raw milk for my son and I prefer organic veggies and fruits if at all possible since that’s what he eats the most of. I also am not willing to compromise on our son having soda. I am willing to eat fast food so long as it is not every day and I’m willing to eat and allow our son to eat, soft serve ice cream since it’s a family tradition to go to the ice cream shop a few nights during our week-long vacation.
Take Snacks & Simple Foods– Making a batch of sourdough English Muffins or homemade Larabars is a great way to keep some healthy foods into your diet and expose some others to homemade foods.
My son loves peanuts, cashews and raisins. I buy all in these in organic form in bulk at our local natural foods store. I mix them together and make a trail mix that is great of the road. You can add chocolate or carob nibs for older children and add other dried fruits too.
Ice Cream seems to be a favorite treat for vacationers. Offer to make ice cream instead of buying it at the store or going to the local shop. My husband’s family has a recipe they love. It involves sweetened-condensed milk and white sugar. It’s not ideal but if I use raw milk and eggs from my hens it still better than store bought.
Don’t Skip the Supplements – If you take supplements be sure to take them along and don’t skip a dose. Depending on what you take you may want to beef up the amount you’re taking. As always, exercise your good judgment and consult a physician before beginning or changing medications or supplements.
Preparing Children – Our son is young so we don’t yet have to say only one piece of cake or only two cookies and no soda. If your children are older than you may have some preparation to do. If you live your food philosophy at home on a regular basis hopefully you’re explaining to your children why you eat the way you do and you’re not just pulling rank and making them follow suit.
Of course they must obey and respect what you say, they’re your children, but they also need to be equipped with knowledge so they can make wise choices when you’re not over seeing their every bite. If you are empowering them with knowledge then in most cases your children should be able to make wise decisions. Explain to them that when you’re not around and Aunt Ethel is peddling leftover cake they need to make a wise choice.
If you children are risk takers or tend to buck the system then you may need to keep a closer eye on what they are eating and put additional time into pre-vacation prep with them. Whatever personality your child has don’t further complicate things by scolding them or embarrassing them in front of a bunch of other people.
Offer to Make a Meal – Do you have a family favorite that you can try for your extended family? Maybe you can make your yummy spaghetti with homemade meat balls and spaghetti sauce. Offer to make homemade mini pizzas for an afternoon snack after a day at the beach.
If you prefer soaked pancakes or pancakes made with homemade mix , get up early and make them. Make a big stack for everyone to have. If they taste good no one will know the batter was soaked (and no one will care either.) Bring along uncured, nitrate free bacon too. Everyone loves bacon!
Break Bread Together – Literally. Bake a loaf of yummy bread to had at dinner.
“Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts.”
James Beard (1903-1985)
Smoothies – If you’re compromising or you know your kids are getting more “junk” than you prefer smoothies are an awesome treat that can add valuable nutrients you might otherwise be missing out on.
I love a strawberry-banana smoothie with coconut oil, a raw egg, yogurt, dried kale and flax oil. Yum!!
Take Healthier Alternatives– Stove-popped popcorn with real butter and sea salt or other seasoning is a treat not too many people will resist. It’s way, way better than Jiffy but it is also nonthreatening. Make or take some snacks or snack ingredients you can share with the family that you can feel good about. Homemade yogurt and English muffins are also great snacks to take.
Relax & Don’t Stress Out – You are on vacation. It is supposed to be a time of enjoyment. If you’re not following a strict diet due to allergy or disease take a moment and evaluate the situation. Is the Duncan Hines Brownie you ate today going to effect your health 10 years from now (assuming you ate one, not the whole batch and you normally avoid such things)?
Share Aunt Ethel’s Cake – Why not share a piece of that cake with your cousin you only see twice a year? Chat over that cake and some coffee. You’ll eat less (a plus all around) and you’ll also get to bond a bit with your cuz. (Hopefully another plus.)
Plan Ahead – Some of the tips above require a bit of planning before vacation and possibly during grocery shopping on vacation (assuming you’re at a house or place with a kitchen). Plan to bring items for making a meal and plan which snacks you’ll take. If you have kitchen access you may also be able to make some simple snacks while you’re there.
Also, doing research of local restaurants and grocery stores may prove advantageous as you can decide ahead of time what you may be able to buy at your destination and what restaurants you may want to suggest or visit while you’re vacationing. Local Harvest is great resource to find markets, stores and shops while your traveling.
Making the Difficult Choice – If your vacations with family are too intense and you’re barraged with negativity and disrespect you and your spouse may need to make the hard choice of not continuing to vacation with your family. Of course this will cause more controversy but remember. The Bible says a man shall leave his father and mother and become one flesh with his wife. If you and your spouse are in agreement then even if Mom or Dad or Aunt Ethel are upset, it may need to happen.
No Guilt and No Shame – Do not be ashamed of your food choices. You know the benefits of your dietary choices and hopefully you have seen first hand the effects of eating a healthy diet. Don’t let others words or actions deter you from your path. Pray that their words slide off your mind like eggs from a Teflon pan. (Or a stainless steel pan with lots and lots of butter!)
Are you challenged with facing food differences this summer during your vacations? How will you handle things?
Until Next Time,
Like what you’ve read? Subscribe so you never miss a post! You can also follow us on Facebook or Pinterest. Thanks for reading!