It used to bother me when my husband would go to the grocery store and purchase foods that we normally didn’t eat at home. I would feel worried. Worried that all the good measures I had taken at home to assure our four children were being fed healthfully would be erased by the presence of white bread, sugar wafers, and potato chips. In those early years of vacationing, what was stocked in the kitchen on vacation was often a bone of contention between my husband and I.
But I think my husband was on to something, and I have to say that I have come to agree with his attitude about vacation and food. It has paid off in spades with our children. One of the things we all look forward to when we leave for break is our “vacation food.”
Vacation is a break from the usual routine. Sleeping patterns change, habits change, eating schedules and food are different. A break from shopping, cooking, and healthy meal planning is something I relish. The children also get a break from the usual foods we eat, and get to indulge in foods that are not regularly purchased.
While we all savor foods like white bread, chocolate cereal, sugar wafers, chips, and more ice cream than usual, we also incorporate more fish, farm fresh vegetables, and fruit. When I step back and weigh the balance and totality of what our family is eating, in general, it is still balanced. Only the components have changed.
I see a benefit from shifting the overall eating pattern and embracing “less than healthy” foods on vacation, as well as the healthier, local, seasonal food items. For the healthier options, allowing your child an opportunity to try other foods and expand their repertoire is always a good thing. On the other hand, offering “less than healthy” foods allows your child to have what is often tightly controlled at home or infrequently available. This escape from the usual food routine may help your child be relaxed about food and eating, as they learn that there is a time and place for all foods. Taking a vacation from the normal food routine can be an investment in your child’s future attitude about food balance, moderation and variety.
Here is the payoff for my family: By the time vacation is finished, we are all happy to have had the break and ready for a return to the normal food routine. As quoted by my 13 year-old daughter on one summer vacation, “Mom, I miss your bread.” Enough said.