What does a dietitian eat on vacation? Join Nutrition Specialist Andrea for week in Bali, Indonesia!*
*Disclaimer: Please be aware that this post contains content that some readers may find triggering. This food diary is not intended to be dietary advice. Anything written here is not necessarily appropriate for the Enara program you are on or consistent with your particular goals.
I am currently on vacation in Bali, Indonesia, so this is definitely an atypical week for me. I often get a lot of questions around eating while traveling/on vacation, so I am excited to share how I like to think about it. First of all, the level of difficulty involved to “stay on track” with your health goals can vary dramatically depending on where you are traveling and who you are traveling with. Luckily, there are a ton of healthy food options on Bali, and my travel companion also values eating nutritious, fresh foods. If I were in Italy and traveling with picky children, it would probably be a lot more challenging. I want to acknowledge that it’s often not easy to find healthy food options while traveling. Sometimes it requires additional research and planning.
I like to try to eat as I would at home, but with some flexibility for local food, treats, and more meals out than is typical for me. I like to eat 3 balanced meals per day if possible to stabilize my blood sugar and not let myself get too hungry in between meals. This allows me to feel my best and to make mindful, intentional choices. I don’t like to choose where/what to eat when I am ravenous. I like to think about what I’m doing that day, how I want to feel, avoiding large portions of food or too much food that makes me feel sluggish. Most importantly I like to enjoy and savor the delicious foods I get to try!
There are a ton of vegan/vegetarian restaurants in Bali, so it has not been difficult for me to maintain my diet quality here. I am visiting a friend who has lived here for 6 years and is a self-proclaimed “foodie” like me. She knows all of the best spots! This weekend we took a ferry to a nearby island called Nusa Lembongan. This place is what dreams are made of, white sand and clear, calm water. Saturday morning we dined at a serene beach side cafe. I had gluten free buckwheat pancakes and a side of sausage for some extra protein. After breaky I read and napped on the beach for a few hours while my friend went for a surf. For lunch I had a bunless vegetarian burger (made of beetroot & chickpea, yum) topped with cheese and avocado, with a side of roasted potatoes. I avoid gluten since it irritates my chronic skin condition (psoriasis). I often have to modify meals to avoid gluten, but it has become a habit since I’ve been doing it for so long. Lunch was late, and I was still full come dinner time. I opted out of dinner and ordered a single scoop of chocolate ice cream, because, vacation! 🙂
Woke up and had a pre-surf breakfast of deconstructed avocado toast with a poached egg and side of roasted potatoes (yes more potatoes). The cafe at our hotel did not have gluten free bread so they offered the potatoes instead. I forgot to snap a pic but I ate a small amount since I didn’t want to be too full before my surf lesson an hour later. Afterwards, I was famished and ready for lunch. Ordered a chicken/veggie coconut curry over rice and a traditional Indonesian elixir called Jamu, made with turmeric, ginger, tamarind, and sometimes other spices. Delicious and anti-inflammatory! After lunch we packed up and headed back to Bali, then made our way to a small, coastal town called Amed, at the foot of Bali’s biggest active volcano, Mount Agung! Agung exploded last in 2019 so it was a little freaky to be so close. We used Trip Advisor to find a place for dinner. I searched “best food in Amed,” and found the place with the best reviews and pictures of the restaurant/food to make sure it was up to par. This place did not disappoint. Owned by a couple, French chef and local Balinese fisherman, here we found elements of traditional French cooking mixed with Indonesian flavors. Everything we got was amazing. I had chicken leg on the bone in a wonderful curry with a side of yellow rice. For dessert my friend and I split the creme brulee. Here I also had a “mocktail” with greens/herbs/spices. My favorite meal of the trip so far.
Bali is 15 hours ahead of California, so my Monday is Cali’s Sunday. Therefore, an extra day of the weekend for me! We planned an 8:30 snorkeling session, so we had a light breakfast offered by the hotel which consisted of scrambled eggs, some fruit, and black coffee. Afterwards we grabbed lunch at a local cafe where I ordered an almond milk cappuccino, a falafel salad, and shared a dessert made of purple yam. It was a long drive back to Canggu, where my friend lives. We stopped at a local spot on the side of the road to get tipat tahu, which is a Balinese dish of pan fried tofu, bean sprouts, and rice balls topped in a delicious peanut sauce served with prawn crackers. Tonight we ate at a local farm to table restaurant. My friend and I shared hummus (I had it with cucumber sticks instead of pita), a beautiful eggplant dish, and roasted potatoes. Normally I would order a nice piece of fish at a place like this but we decided to share a few veggie sides and a dessert instead. We were exhausted so we decided to keep it light, planning on an early bedtime.
Woke up around 6 am, did a short meditation and got ready for a morning of calls. I stocked up on yogurt and some fresh granola so I could have breakfast at home on the days that I am working. While traveling it’s typically pretty easy to find plain yogurt or oatmeal and fresh fruit at a local market or grocery store. I like to have something in the morning around 10 am so I am not starving by lunch time, which tends to be unpredictable while traveling since it involves coordinating with other people. After work my friend and I did a short 15 min pilates class, then headed to a cafe for brunch. I had an amazing breakfast plate, the “big breakfast” which was full of fiber, nutrient rich non-starchy veggies, protein, and a small bit of carb to fuel my day. To my delight, this place had gluten free (and tasty!) bread. Dinner was a simple chicken fajita salad at a local cafe.
Meals for the next few days consisted of yogurt and granola at home, salad bowls, smoothie bowls, big breakfast plates, & more local food, pictured below. Thanks for reading!