That's What You Get For Eating Out In Vegas

Las Vegas.  Flickr: http2007

I have always been an advocate that you can find healthy food anywhere. I tell people this all the time when they ask if I dine at restaurants or how I handle social events involving food. Boy, did my trip to Vegas prove me wrong. 

I traveled to Vegas with hard-core meat and junk-food eating friends. Besides their affinity for foods I consider grotesquely inedible, I love these people and cherish them as my friends. They tried to please me in our restaurant choices and I figured there would be vegetable options on every restaurant’s menu, so I was initially pretty easy going about where we went to eat. I figured worst-case scenario, I could ask the chef to steam some vegetables for me. It would be no big deal, I thought.

Upon our first lunch outing, my friends chose a Japanese restaurant. I was famished and as such, agreed to eat wherever they desired. When I glanced at the menu, I was a happy girl. The menu was a treasure trove of vegan and vegetarian options, all which seemed as tasty as any home cooked meal. I ordered the Crispy Lettuce Rolls, which were to be filled with mushrooms and tofu. Can’t go wrong with that, right? Wrong.

When my meal arrived it looked delicious, so I eagerly took a big bite. What I tasted was pure salt. That’s what my meal was. Lettuce wrapped in salt. Much to my later regret, I continued to consume the meal because I was famished and as a salt-binge ingénue, didn’t comprehend the repercussions that eating this meal would entail. Throughout the day I felt perfectly fine, but by dinner time I no longer felt like my vibrant, healthy glowing self. I actually felt positively disgusting. I was bloated, very thirsty and uncomfortable in my own skin. In my state of physical lousiness, I began pondering how in the world other people could eat like this every single day and function normally. For dinner I was going to stay as far away from seasoned food as possible. My friends chose a Mexican restaurant with plentiful salad options. Okay, I figured I couldn’t go wrong with a salad. 

I was proven wrong once more. I asked for Portobello mushrooms instead of chicken on my salad and when I bit into those mushrooms they were oozing with salt and vinegar. I couldn’t eat my side order of beans, which I had attempted and failed to order salt free (they were pre-prepared), because they also tasted like a mouth full of salt. Needless to say, I wasted my money on food I didn’t consume. Apart from one evening meal at the Wynn in which I custom ordered a vegan meal of steamed vegetables (I loved the meal and Steve Wynn for going vegan!), I could not find healthy food anywhere.   It was a nutritarian nightmare. For lunch one day I ordered what appeared to be a healthy, grilled vegetable wrap, only to take a bite into a mouthful of grease. I couldn’t eat it. Just like the overflowing decorative opulence of many of the Vegas hotels, apparently all of the chefs at the Vegas restaurants assumed they should opulently season, sugar and grease their dishes. 

My memories of the trip will be of the wonderful shows and places we went to, but I will also remember how bloated and disgusting I felt after eating salted food. I guess the moral of this story is to arrive on vacations better prepared. I was too naïve and didn’t realize until it was too late that you must assume all food in restaurants are loaded with salt. I should have known to ask for plain vegetables and salads with the dressing on the side. I should have known to travel with a stash of nuts and apples or other healthy options to curtail my hunger. My father would have been saying, “I told you so!” I learned my lesson. No more veggie junk-food hangovers for me!

     

Eating for Health While Eating Away from Home

Emily's red cooler for her food while traveling

A few days after making the commitment to eat for health I faced a challenge.  One of my children had an emergency that required immediate medical attention.  Consequently, I ended up spending the majority of the next two months away from home.

From that experience I discovered that it is possible to be a nutritarian anytime, anywhere, under any circumstance.

First of all, I put the above red cooler in the trunk of my car and kept it stocked every couple of days with fresh ice and fruits and vegetables. I stored almonds, raw sunflower seeds and cans of beans in the car; along with some utensils and a gallon of water to wash the produce.

I parked near a drain in the hospital parking garage and “prepared” each meal as needed.  I would fill a plastic sack with a variety of fresh vegetables and fruit, plus a handful of nuts or seeds; and open a can of beans and use a colander to rinse the salt off with water before dumping them into a zip lock bag.

I took my meals to the hospital cafeteria and ate well. (Now that Dr. Fuhrman’s Healthy Additions canned greens and beans have been created:  Supreme Greens, Moroccan Chickpea and VitaBeanaVegaMin, I’d include them.  They are convenient and delicious with absolutely no salt added!)

The results?  After the crisis subsided and I returned home, I was forty pounds lighter than three months earlier.

Eating for health can be successfully achieved in any situation, under any circumstance.

When one is 100% committed, he/she will always find a way to make it work. No excuses.

How do you eat for health while away from home?  Work? Do you have any tips to share?

Being a Nutritarian in Italy

Dr. Fuhrman and his wife Lisa in Italy!

My wife Lisa and I celebrated our 27th anniversary by going to Italy for 9 days. We have never been on a honeymoon, as we were married on a Sunday and began school on that Monday. We had our children and the 27 years went by in the blink of an eye.

We decided to go to Italy now as our children are old enough to not miss us that much (OK they were old enough for us not to feel guilty about leaving them).

We went straight to Venice, took a train to Florence, took a sport convertible through Tuscany to Sienna and then took a train to Rome.

The question was, and asked to me by many people, “Were you able to eat healthy while away?”

The answer is a resounding yes, but with some effort.  Let me explain: We took a water taxi from the airport to our hotel (Novecento in Venice; excellent). It was in the morning and with luck, on the way, we saw a huge Farmer’s Market. We went to it right away and were elated to find the most beautiful figs, tomatoes, peaches, nectarines, cucumbers and the like. It was very interesting because nobody and I mean nobody spoke a word of English and Lisa and I only knew “Gratzi” and “Dove e la toilette? The Farmers would show us the receipt and then we knew how much to pay. As you can see from the picture, they were very nice and obliging (and liked to have their picture taken).

Guy in italy with home grown figs!

We went to Farmers’ Markets in Venice, Florence and Sienna. They all had them. In Rome, the Farmer’s Market just closed, so we had to find a Supermarket. Fortunately, there were two Supermarkets less than a block away from our hotel (Rose Garden Hotel; also great) so we bought the fruits, vegetables and salads we needed. It was great because we had a lot of food for the plane ride home.

We stayed in Bed and Breakfasts so breakfast was easy. There wasn’t much fruit, but there was enough and they always had unsweetened granola. We had nuts from the farmer’s market, so we were always satisfied and ready to take on the day.

For lunch we always went back to the hotel and ate our wonderfully fresh fruit, vegetables and nuts.

Dinner was another story. Not as easy to eat healthy in Italy when you are in a restaurant although it certainly is not impossible. Of course, we were on vacation, so being perfect nutritarians wasn’t our objective, but for us to feel physically well after a meal, we need to eat pretty well. In Venice, they gave us complimentary light wine fused with mango, if you could believe that, and even I who dislikes alcoholic beverages liked it. Otherwise, Lisa was very easy to please. She loves carbs and one of Italy’s top vegetables on their menus is potatoes so give her that with some greens and she is happy. I’m a little harder to please, as I really look forward to some wholesome, delicious vegetable dishes. We made sure we went to restaurants that had a variety of veggies on their menu. Italians like meat, fish and cheese, so we passed on many restaurants. Fortunately, there were so many restaurants that we didn’t have to worry about one not having enough vegetables. We always found one and they all served salad. They also serve more bean dishes than we do here. The main thing to emphasize is NO SALT. Italians salt everything and Lisa was always repeating “No salt, please” and even then we received some salt-laden dishes. With those, we simply sent them back.

So, for the upshot, we ate well, we ate healthy and we finally had our honeymoon. I’d like to suggest a fantastic restaurant in Rome, called Crispi 19. It was the best restaurant in all of Italy for us, with delicious, exotic vegetable dishes and great service. All in all, it was delicimo!

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