How to Eat Clean on Vacation

How to Eat Clean on Vacation

It’s probably the number one question I get this time of year: how do I eat clean while on vacation? I know it can be hard, but it’s certainly not impossible! With a little bit of forethought and planning, you can have a great vacation and come home feeling good about yourself and your food choices.

How to Eat Clean on Vacation

Here are my best tips for eating clean on vacation:

Choose to Maintain

I don’t recommend trying to lose weight on vacation. I tell my clients to focus on not gaining.  To do this, you must decide from the start and get into the right mindset. Vacation should be about fun, friends and family…not unwanted weight gain.  If your vacation is ONLY about the food, you might want to rethink what vacation means to you and where you choose to go. If you overdo it every year at your favorite all-inclusive, maybe it’s time to choose another destination.

Avoid Eating Traps

Don’t blow it before you even arrive to your destination by pigging out in the airport.  Make sure to eat breakfast the morning of your flight (or at least throw a PB sandwich in your carry-on).  A week or so before you leave, start thinking about what snacks or other foods you can stash in your suitcase or purse (especially for airport travel). I wrote about my hotel survival kit HERE. If you’re road-tripping, pack your lunch and healthy snacks in a cooler for car noshing. Trust me, you won’t find clean eats along any of our US highways. Some portable foods are: nuts, vegetables with hummus, apples with nut butter packs,  RX bars, cereal swag, mini cheese, olives cups, cherry tomatoes, grapes, popcorn. 

Have Policies

Notice I didn’t say rules? A policy is different than a rule, it’s more of a code of ethics, a principle, a this-is-how-I-roll kind of thing. Rules are meant to be broken, but people will go to great lengths to abide by their own principles. Create some policies/principles before you leave (and especially if you’re going to an all-you-can-eat destination).

Here’s a few ideas to get you started:

– have the same healthy breakfast every day (don’t start the day off on the wrong track)
– have a zero calorie policy for your drinks (stick with water, iced-tea or naturally flavored waters; avoid the sugary, high calorie lattes, chai teas, and other stuff)
– dessert only once per day
– grains and bread only once per day
– no alcohol until dinner
– fruit only for snacks (not chips or other “pool food”)
– exercise before breakfast (a long walk on the beach counts!)


Plan your meals as best you can. Check out the food offerings near your vacation destination. Take advantage of travel sites like Yelp and Trip Advisor for healthy restaurant recommendations. Read the reviews ahead of time and find restaurants that offer clean eating options (think lots of salads, fresh seafood, organic, vegetarian, farm-to-table, grass fed, gluten free, etc.).

Order As-If

At restaurants, follow my “order-as-if” policy. If you wouldn’t normally eat fried chicken, don’t order it on vacation. I’m not saying you can’t indulge a little, but don’t make every eating decision over the top. If you stop at the ice cream shop, don’t order the 3 scoop Sundae with chocolate sauce, nuts, and whipped cream or the chocolate covered cone. Just get one scoop of ice cream and enjoy every creamy bite. As with most things in life, less is more.

Use the Nourish Plate

Keep plate portioning in mind can go a long way in eating less, but feeling full. Creating a Nourish-style plate provides you the perfect balance of the foods you want with the foods you need to stay full and satisfied. Get your copy of the Nourish plate here.

Count Bananas

Alcohol can be a big calorie source on vacation and can lead to out of control eating. My advice is to make your cocktails as low calorie as possible. A bloody Mary or vodka-tonic has as many calories as a large banana. A sugar-laden frozen strawberry daiquiri is the equivalent of 2 ½ bananas. How many bananas would you normally eat at once? Count your drinks in terms of bananas and see if that helps you put on the breaks.

Earn it

I always feel better about myself if I do a little exercise every day while on vacation, especially a beach vacation. If you can, rent bikes and explore the city, walk the boardwalk, explore the beach in the morning before everyone is awake, play beach volleyball, hit the tennis courts, take a yoga class, or just hit the gym for 30 minutes. There’s always time for  a little movement in your day. Make it happen.

See how Danielle makes eating clean a lifestyle

My Clean Eating Strategy


To celebrate the launch of the spring session of Nourish: 21 days of clean eating I’m sharing with you the very best of what Nourish is about. These are the essential discoveries that make up my own clean living strategy. I use or implement each one of these every single day.

Nourish Plate

I follow the Nourish Plate concept each time I eat. By doing so, I’m able to enjoy ALL foods. Since Nourish teaches you what foods work well with your unique body chemistry, you don’t remove entire food groups from your diet just because it sounds cool to do so. You actually learn what types of foods fuel YOUR body best and how they fit into your personal clean eating strategy. Knowing this, you can literally have your cake and eat it, too. It just needs to fit on the plate.

During Nourish we DO limit our intake. We not only remove common food allergens (dairy, gluten) we also remove added sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and other foods that may be affecting our body in a negatively. The difference is that we bring the foods back into our diet in a meaningful way. The Nourish plate works as a portion guide during the program and long after it’s over.


My Vitamix is more than just my favorite kitchen appliance. It’s my friend. My clean eating partner. My daily joy. Sound a little over the top? Perhaps it is. I just love my Vitamix machine. We make beautiful dishes together, mostly in the form of creamy and delicious green smoothies, savory soups, dressings, dips, and other clean eating, Nourish-friendly delights. Yes, a Vitamix is an investment. But it’s an investment in your health and vitality. It’s the one appliance that I use every single day. Ask me about their payment plans and reconditioned models. I know all the ways you can get one for less.

Sugar Strategy

This one insight might be the most important nugget you get from my Nourish program. Sugar: we love to hate it. We love to love it. It’s the downfall of many a clean eating lifestyle. It’s the crutch that we rely on for so many things. But here’s the rub: for many people, sugar is NOT an everyday food. I like to equate sugar to alcohol. Many of us enjoy a glass of wine, on occasion. But we wouldn’t drink at work. Or after lunch. Or in the car. We wouldn’t do a shot every time we passed by a co-worker’s candy bowl. If we applied the same common sense restraint to sugar, it could cause a profound shift in our relationship. I’ve had a sugar strategy for years and it works.

During Nourish, we remove added sugar for 21 days. Then we watch as ever so slowly some magical things happen. At first, it sucks. There’s anxiety. Headaches. Cravings. But these soon make way for newly found clarity. And with that clarity you can create a strategy. Creating a sugar strategy for yourself is a gift that keeps on giving. It’s one of the most important takeaways of the Nourish program.

Food Confidence

I love being able to look at a recipe and clean it up. And when I say clean it up, I just mean make it work for me and my eating style. Knowing how to do this comes with experience. Experience comes from practice. That’s why cooking is so important while on the Nourish program. You don’t have to cook everything from scratch, but you do learn how to whip up clean meals that satisfy. This is usually the first question I get when someone is deciding whether to do the program. Do I have to cook? My usual response is this:

  • Do you want to feel better?
  • Do you want to have less gas/bloating/digestive issues?
  • Do you want to stop gaining weight?
  • Do you want to have more energy?

If yes, then you need to stop eating the food that is making you sick. There’s no shortcut here. You have to take responsibility for what you consume and that starts on your own plate, in your own kitchen. But here’s the thing: the more you prepare your own food, the better you get at it. The better you get at something, the more you love it.

Food Confidence….that’s what Nourish is all about.

Are you ready to get Nourished this fall? Join us! Preparation week starts April 18th. CLICK HERE to learn more and get on the wait list!

Join Nourish: 21 Days of Clean Eating this fall! Registration opens Sept. 1st!


Sunscreen safety what you need to know

Sunscreen Safety: What You Need to Know

Warning: the sunscreen in your beach bag may be hazardous to your health!

Sunscreen safety what you need to know

The sunscreen you’ve been lathering on yourself and your kiddos probably needs an upgrade. Let’s face it, sunscreen is little more than a tube of chemical soup that we absorb directly through our skin. Knowing this, we need to get smart about what products we’re using on ourselves and our kiddos.

Why Use Sunscreen?

Our skin is actually more susceptible to absorption in the summer. The heat and humidity opens up our pores, increasing the rate at which chemicals can enter the body through our skin.

Your skin does more than just cover you up, it acts as a physical barrier from our environment, limiting the passage of water and other substances in and out.  Accounting for about 16% of your body weight, your skin helps to regulate your body temperature, protect against UV radiation, and it’s the first line defender when it comes to your immune system. Your immune system depends on your skin to act as a physical barrier so it doesn’t have to work in overdrive, scanning and assessing every single substance we come into contact with.

That being said, it’s important to know what products are safe to use on our bodies and what are not. Keep in mind when it comes to absorbing chemicals, it’s not as simple as whatever I slather onto my body gets inside my body. There are a number of layers that a chemical must pass through to actually get absorbed. If the chemical compound doesn’t pass through those outer skin layers, it’s only penetrated your skin. A chemical that just penetrates the skin doesn’t get absorbed and it doesn’t enter our bloodstream. Absorption occurs when the chemical breaks the skin’s barrier.  Most, if not all, sunscreens break the skin’s barrier and are absorbed into our bloodstream.

Let’s not forget the reason we use sunscreen at all — to protect ourselves from the ultraviolet rays from the sun. Remember that there are two main types of UV rays: UVA rays and UVB rays. UVB rays are the ones that cause sunburn and trigger non-melanoma skin cancers (this is the slow-growing cancer that you can treat). UVB rays are also responsible for the synthesis of vitamin D through our skin. Sunscreens were designed to block UVB rays, slowing down the rate at which our skin burns and buying us some extra time out in the sun. An SPF of 30, for example, allows you can stay out in the sun 30 minutes longer, before you will burn. But this doesn’t mean the higher the SPF, the better. The EWG has warned for years that higher SPF sunscreens aren’t more effective and may even be worse for you than a lower SPF.  You can read more about that here.

Sunscreen safety

Sunscreen vs. Vitamin D

Vitamin D is synthesized by our bodies when UVB rays react with our skin. This is the most optimal way to get your vitamin D. There are actually very few food sources that are rich in Vitamin D. It’s almost impossible to meet your needs without the sunlight or a supplement, especially if you’re already deficient.

A major concern with sunscreen use is that when we use it before we head to the pool or the beach, we are preventing the production of vitamin D. Since more than half of my clients are deficient, I’d say this is a problem, and one that has pretty epic consequences. Vitamin D not only protects against osteoporosis and boosts your immune system, it also reduces the risk of breast, colon, kidney and ovarian cancers.

What to Avoid

As I mentioned before, sunscreen is quite literally a tube of chemical soup. There’s very little that’s natural in a bottle of this stuff. When choosing a sunscreen, there are a few ingredients you want to avoid.

Chemical sunscreens: First off, don’t use a chemical sunscreen. According to the EWG, sunscreens containing chemical filters typically include a combination of the active ingredients oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, and octinoxate. This group of chemicals are used mainly for their ability to absorb both UVA and UVB rays. Oxybenzone is the worst offender, mostly due to its endocrine-disrupting qualities and ease of absorption into the body. The CDC has predicted that oxybenzone can be detected in every American and is also found in human breastmilk. Sounds just like another nasty chemical we all know and avoid. BPA, anyone?

Nanoparticles: These are extremely small molecules, one billionth of a meter, that are often found in mineral sunscreens. Little is known about their safety, and their size means that they are easily absorbed into the bloodstream. The problem with nanoparticles is that they haven’t been tested on long-term health and there’s no requirement to label them in the US (even though other countries do). That being said, unless a brand tells you they aren’t in there, you’ll never know. Nanoparticles are dangerous when inhaled and the reason you should not use spray sunscreens.

Retinyl palmitate or retinol: Retinyl use is widespread in the cosmetics industry and has been for the last 40 years.  These forms of vitamin A are only recently being studied for safety in the US and research shows they may speed the development of skin tumors when applied to sun-exposed skin. Other countries limit their use and warn that because they are so prevalent, cosmetics use may expose people to unsafe amounts of vitamin A. The EWG recommends that you avoid sunscreens, lip products, and skin lotions that contain vitamin A, also called retinyl palmitate, retinyl acetate, retinyl linoleate and retinol.

What I Recommend

Non-nano mineral sunscreens: Such as those using non-nano zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. I personally use Beautycounter’s entire line of sunscreen products. Mainly because nobody is going to the level they are for safety and effectiveness. They don’t use cancer-causing chemicals, endocrine disruptors, or ingredients that are linked to any human health concerns. Their mission is for safety, transparency, education, and updating the laws around cosmetics. Every product gets a safety rating of 0-2 on the Environmental Working Group’s skin deep database–so you don’t have to spend hours researching your products.

safe sunscreen Beautycounter

I use Beautycounter sunscreen at the beach and the pool or when exercising outside. It glides on super easily (without using nanoparticles!) and has no fragrance. I use their sunscreen stick on my daughters face and scalp. I use their Dew Skin tinted moisturizer with SPF on my face. This product is a 3:1 deal. It provides my daily sunscreen, anti-aging skin care, and a hint of color to blur those little imperfections. I also use their lip balm with SPF.

Seek out natural coverage: Think twice before slathering on sunscreen at the drop of a hat. Did you know that a typical T-shirt has an SPF rating of 15? Also consider sun-protective clothing with UV protection. And accessorize with a broad-brimmed hat and UVA and UVB blocking sunglasses.

Get some D: Take the first 10-15 minutes of your time in the sun and go sunscreen and sunblock free. Let the sun penetrate your skin (preferably your arms, legs, and face) before you reach for that bottle of sunscreen (or hide in the shade). Do this all year long, not just in the summer. According to the Vitamin D Council, you don’t need to tan or burn your skin to start vitamin D production. You only need to expose your skin for half the time it takes for your skin to turn pink and begin to burn (longer if you’re dark skinned).