When I turned 30, I took a vacation with a friend to Europe to celebrate my third decade. We hit Spain and Portugal and had a blast – eating, drinking, and being very merry with the locals.

Fast forward 11 years. I am a 41-year-old mom of an almost 5-year-old. Vacation has a very different meaning these days.

I recently took my daughter away for a week to Charleston, where my parents were vacationing for a month in a rental house. I was less than two weeks past my Whole 75, and my Food Freedom to that point had included the consumption of ONE can of hard cider (split over two days!)

So, what did vacation mean for my Food Freedom? How did I handle being away from my own kitchen and normal routine while testing the waters of what felt “worth it” to eat?

Here’s how I set myself up for a successful time away (and I do recognize that much of this is possible only because I have incredibly supportive and helpful parents!)

  • I sent my Mom a shopping list of things to have for me in the house when we arrived. On the list: Eggs, avocado, coffee, tons of vegetables (which she roasted and had ready for me!), Aidell’s chicken sausage, coconut milk, coconut oil, nuts, salad fixings, and fruit.

  • I packed my suitcase with what I call my “soldiers” – ghee, tons of spice blends, nutpods, sugar-free sunflower seed butter, compliant trail mix, dried meat bars (Chomps, and Wild Zora), an emergency RxBar, applesauce pouches, Safe Catch tuna, Soom Foods tahini, and almond butter packets.

  • I didn’t leave lunch in the airport on the way to Charleston to chance. I made sure I had a meat bar, some leftover potatoes, cantaloupe chunks and cashews. I did have some Terra vegetables chips on the plane – just vegetables and oil, no sugar or funky ingredients. I hadn’t had chips in forever and these were definitely in my Food Freedom.

  • Before I left for my trip, I researched some fitness studios where I could take classes during the week. For me, exercise helps keep me focused, calm, and on track – and without it, well, it’s not pretty. I ended up taking two different classes over the week – a hot power yoga class and a Sweat Therapy class, mash-up of barre, Tabata, pilates, and strength.

  • When I got to Charleston, I mapped out a 3-mile running route and while I was there, I ran three times. So overall, I got five workouts in during the week I was away – not bad!

  • In advance of my trip. I did some research on good food options for me in Charleston. I ended up having a to-go salad from Verde, which has many compliant and close-to-compliant (and perfect for my own personal Food Freedom) options and I grabbed a locally-made One Love kombucha (not compliant but again, a part of my Food Freedom.)

  • Thanks to a child who wasn’t in the mood for restaurants, we only ate out once during the week. We went to Five Loaves Café, and I chose a chicken cobb salad, hold the bleu cheese. I used a little of the dressing on the side but I was OK with that.

  • I cooked the rest of my meals and ate lots of vegetables, eggs, chicken sausage, burgers, fish and chicken. It wasn’t “exciting” vacation food but it kept me satisfied, happy, and feeling on track with my normal routine.

  • We celebrated my Mom’s birthday one night with store-bought cupcakes. Definitely NOT in my Food Freedom. I had some fruit with almond butter that evening instead.

  • My parents enjoy a nightly glass of wine, and on past vacations with them I have enjoyed a glass alongside them EVERY night. It was something to look forward to, and a way to unwind and relax – from the stress of being on vacation with your parents. 😊 This year, I really flexed my Food Freedom skills to decide when I wanted wine and how much I wanted. I ended up having a very small glass of red wine three of the nights I was on vacation. With two of the glasses, I felt fine the next morning but with one of them, I was dragging the next day. That glass has helped me think about how I want to approach drinking – I have not had any alcohol since I have been back and it’s giving me even more pause about if and how drinking fits into my life.

  • On the trip home, my daughter and I split a fruit cup in the airport while we waited for the plane. And while I was on the plane, I decided to test my Food Freedom again with…mini chocolate chip cookies. I am a former “Cookie Monster” so this is a big deal for me. I had not had a dessert in more than 3 months. So, I had two mini cookies from the package and then decided I was done. I had hit my “worth it” moment, and I didn’t mindlessly eat the rest of the bag.

  • And while I was traveling home, I pulled out my organizer and a pen – and started to meal plan. My first stop right from the airport: The supermarket. I was not going home to an empty fridge. I whipped up 40 Aprons egg roll in a bowl with spicy sauce and roasted sweet potato fries for my first meal back at home.

Was it a lot of work? Sort of. Was it a trip based around amazing local cuisine? Absolutely not. But, did I have a good time away? Yes!

I spent quality time with my family, got in more sleep than I’ve had in months, enjoyed some great workouts, hit the beach, and most importantly, felt strong, clear-minded, and relaxed.

Life was different when I was 30. At 41, taking a vacation from good habits is not part of my Food Freedom.