We’ve just arrived back in Boston after a fabulous 5 night stay at the Virgin Hotel in downtown Chicago. I must admit that I’m always a little nervous before any vacation thinking that I’m going to undo all my healthy LCHF eating and come back 10 pounds heavier. I’ve found that the longer the vacation, the harder it becomes to maintain my weight as I relax and slip into eating more treats. I start any vacation super strict and splurge on my last day! So, though I was sad to leave Chicago, I’m pleased that I didn’t do too much damage- a 2.3 pound gain which I know is mainly bloating from some of the extra carbs I ate. My husband and I are both foodies, as well as low-carbers and we LOVE to sample new food and drinks so its a fine balance to enjoy the culinary delights of a new city while maintaining your figure. There’s no way in hell I want to have to diet for 2 weeks after I get home from a trip! Been there, done that so I exercise some self control and choose my indulgences carefully.
I always tell people who are on a weight loss diet that they should aim to just maintain their weight while on vacation rather than keep trying to lose weight. To deprive yourself from tasting some local delights would be just plain no fun! After all, vacation is a time to escape your everyday routine, try some new food, kick back a little and have some fun.
So here’s how I came out of my 5 day vacation relatively unscathed while still enjoying myself:
- First, I always made sure that each morning I had my usual low-carb breakfast which, for those of you who know me, is always eggs. Each day I ate 2 eggs with a side of sausage, ham, bacon and/or, if available avocado. Instead of home fries, hash-browns and toast I would ask for some sauteed spinach or kale. I found this to be a perfect and delightfully filling meal, that fueled me for a long days trekking around town. Staying as low-carb as possible at breakfast also meant that I could save my carbs and enjoy some wine and a little of whatever I fancied later at dinner.
- I walked ALOT. Each day I took between 12,000 and 17,000 steps. This happened naturally while sight seeing and exploring. Burning up those calories meant that I’d be able to eat a substantial dinner later.
- I ate a snack/lunch late afternoon around 3-4 pm to tide me over until dinner at 8 pm. Sometimes I’d stop for a salad with a little protein at one of those healthy make your own bowl places and other times it was a large iced coffee (sweetened with my sucralose drops which I carry everywhere) and a couple of ounces of nuts. One afternoon we had afternoon tea at the famous Drake hotel and I ordered these amazing lobster stuffed deviled eggs topped with caviar!
Deviled Eggs with Lobster
- On another occasion I chose a boozy vodka cucumber tea cocktail at my hotel with some nuts.
Cucumber vodka green tea and wine cocktail
- And yes – there was an afternoon on my last day where I enjoyed a small serve of an amazing mascarpone, pistachio and caramel gelato and a couple of dinners where I ordered dessert which was just too good to miss! You get the idea – a little naughty but chosen carefully to make me feel pampered. My indulgences weren’t all-day eating sprees.
- Lastly, I made sure to go for the low-carb menu items whenever possible. For me this isn’t deprivation, it’s just how I enjoy eating. That way I can spend my carbs on wine and a little dessert!
Me at the Drake hotel ballroom imagining the guests that attended the 1920 New Years Eve opening night
Want to to know exactly what I ate on each day? Here’s the lowdown:
Day 1: Sunday (arrived at 2 pm and starving!)
Lunch at Roti Mediterranean grill
large green salad (no dressing), 1/4 cup hummus, 1/2 cup chopped chicken cooked with schwarma spice, a few olives, 1 cup red cabbage salad with olive oil.
Large iced tea.
Dinner at La Sirena Clandestina (Brazilian)
Large kale salad with roasted poblano dressing, cotija and pepitas
Whole fried fish with a dusting of tapioca flour, peanuts, cilantro, fresno and serrano hot sauces
Half a piece of Pao de Queijo (Brazillian cheese bread) – couldn’t miss this!
Taste of John’s caramel, ice cream dessert
At La Sirena Clandestina
Day 2: Monday
Breakfast at Miss Ricky’s (Virgin hotel diner)
2 eggs cooked in butter
2 pork sausage patties (no carbs!)
1 cup sauteed mushrooms and kale
Lunch/Snack at Palm Court at the Drake Hotel
2 eggs stuffed with lobster and topped with caviar, small side salad
Dinner at Boka (New American)
Steak tartare with chopped tomatoes and parmesan
1/2 ricotta gnudi appetizer
Roasted sea bass with roasted green veggies
Spoonful of John’s orange ice-cream and fennel graham cracker dessert
1 complimentary chocolate strawberry truffle
2 glasses of Chardonnay
Day 3: Tuesday
Breakfast at Eastman’s Egg restaurant
3 egg omelet filled with ham, caramelized onions and cheddar cheese
1 cup arugula
Lunch/Snack at Virgin Hotel lounge
Cucumber/vodka/green tea cocktail
2 oz mixed nuts
Dinner at Parachute (Korean-American fusion)
Banchan (pickled mixed veggies – shared (see pic below)
Cured Sea Bass with Green Tomato and yuzu kosho- shared
One small piece of Parachute’s famous Bing Bread spread with a cream cheese/butter blend (the bread is stuffed with potato, bacon and scallions and was worth the splurge!)
Broccoli salad with Ras-el-hanout, dates and pistachios – shared
Ddukbokki with pork and chili served over rice cake noodles – shared (I had a small serve of the noodles – again amazing!!)
Bi bim bop with bitter greens – shared
Dessert: 4″ diameter fresh raspberry tart topped with white chocolate cream and elderflowers (I ate the whole thing and it was to die for)
2 glasses of wine
2 “Hot Red Devil” cocktails on our hotel roof deck
Breakfast at Miss Ricky’s diner
2 fried eggs
1 cup sauteed kale
3 small turkey sausages
Lunch/Snack at Lavazza cafe
1/2 cup pistachio, mascarpone and caramel gelato (I’d been eyeing this off for days and so I succumbed)
1 glass of wine in hotel room
Dinner at Roister
Thai cucumber salad with fresh herbs – shared
Wedge salad – shared
Cheesy hush-puppies with a creamy corn sauce – shared (I ate 1 out of 4)
Roasted Salmon with a maple glaze
Creamed potato (1/4 cup)
Dessert-Apple, cinnamon and peanut ice-cream – shared
2 glasses wine
Day 4: Thursday
Breakfast at Yolk:
2 poached eggs
2 slices Canadian bacon
2 cups steamed spinach
1/2 an avocado (Note: I asked for spinach and avocado instead of an English muffin and potatoes)
Lunch/Snack in our hotel room
2.5 oz bag of mixed nuts
Dinner at Topolabampo (a 5 course set tasting menu with wine! My unadulterated splurge! )
Pre-dinner vodka based cocktail –
Sopa with cream (mexican spiced soup with cream and a masa wafer) and 3 oz Chenin Blanc
Salmon in a peanut, spiced tomato sauce and 3 oz White Burgundy
Fidellos with a rich spicy sauce and 3 oz Chateauneuf du Pape (Yes – these were Mexican noodles)
Steak with a rich mole sauce and 3 oz Amarone
Caramel crepe with Cajeta (goats milk caramel sauce) and 2 oz Port
Day 5: Fly home!
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