A few years ago, I spent an incredible week touring the entire South of Ireland. It involved a great deal of time in the car, a few too many pints, and eating out all three meals a day for seven glorious days.
Do I feel guilty? No. It was a vacation. Do I feel fat? Surprisingly, not really.
I don’t think the day of my return would be the day I would want to try out for the Olympic team, but I don’t feel like I just finished Thanksgiving dinner like I usually do after most business trips. Why is that?
Here are a few things I noticed and what I learned:
- Irish menus are very literal. When you order “Roast Beef with Vegetables and Potatoes”, you get roast beef, some vegetables, and potatoes. No breading, butter, and layers of mysterious stuff.
Lesson–keep food simple. Basic ingredients that look very similar to they way they came off the farm, out of the ground, or off the tree.
- Portions are designed for human sized people. I would not describe pub food as a California Health Plate (corned beef, cheese, fries, etc.), but they came in portion sizes that were not obscene. In the U.S., restaurants seem to measure value by the pound. The Irish serve you a meal instead of issuing a challenge.
Lesson—you do not have to eat three meals worth of food just because the restaurant puts it in front of you. You are paying to no longer be hungry. It costs you the same whether you eat it all or not.
- Breakfast is an everyday meal. It’s easy to see why they call them Bed and Breakfasts. Breakfast is formal, large, and very good. It also keeps you from snacking on junk for the next 6 hours when you start the day with eggs, salmon, and other basic items. I ate too much, but I ate less later.
Lesson—eating a good breakfast that is devoid of processed foods is like putting money in the bank. You can make withdrawals on it later, and it keeps you from eating junk to combat sugar/caffeine crashes over the next few hours.
One other thing I noticed: walking is a form of transportation, not punishment. You can take a nice vacation, eat heartily, and maintain your weight if you walk a few miles every day. There are several times when people would tell us, “Oh, it’s only a one mile walk.”
When is the last time you heard that?