How to get rid of those post vacation blues and return to a healthy and happy existence at home
In my last post, I wrote about the amazing vacation Dinner Table Doctor and I recently experienced. Adjusting to regular old life after such a whirlwind, magical trip has not been easy. While I always appreciate returning safely to the home I love, reality is sometimes a rude awakening. There are bills to pay, including all the bills from the vacation, messages to answer, and appointments to keep. Plus actual work! DTD had a particularly harsh return to reality since he had to wake up at 4:15 AM the day after we returned home. There was also grocery shopping and laundry to catch up on and I had to cook meals again. While I thoroughly enjoy cooking, I certainly enjoyed being served delectable dishes and not having to clean up while traveling. Oh, not to mention how I missed the wine! Wonderful new bottles of wine to try with every meal!
Even though DTD and I are lucky enough to have access to great ingredients for creating yummy meals and we have plenty of good bottles of wine on hand, post vacation blues are still a thing in our home. As I explained in my last post Staying Healthy While Traveling, when a vacation is over, it’s over. We can’t indulge in the decadent meals and continue to lounge around when not visiting amazing sites. I mean, I guess we COULD, but then we would be very unhealthy and cash-strapped to boot.
Vacation Withdrawal Syndrome
If you’re like me, you may have a hard time adjusting to your normal life after an epic vacation. Maybe you have jetlag or are depressed. Luckily, there are some things you can do to help end this funk and learn to appreciate everyday existence.
Eat Healthy Foods
Make a conscious effort to have lots of fruits and vegetables on hand and avoid the chips and sugary processed foods. Plan some meals that are healthy and simple, to ease your way back into meal preparation. Here are a few of the meals we had our first week back from Croatia:
Whole Wheat Pasta with Tomato Confit and a Vegetable Gratin
This is an easy meal and looks impressive. There’s pasta and cheese, so it’s delicious, but still relatively healthy and a great way to ease back into a healthy diet. All I did was slow roast some fresh tomatoes with rosemary, garlic and oil for about 40 minutes. Then just toss it with whole wheat pasta and a little of the pasta water and top with cheese and fresh basil. The vegetable recipe is below and courtesy of my friend Jean.
Roasted White Beans and Broccoli with Pancetta with Italian Farinata Chickpea Flatbread and Wax Beans
Again, relatively healthy and you could leave out the pancetta to make it super healthy. I wasn’t ready for that yet! The broccoli recipe is from the blog A Farmgirl’s Dabbles, and the flatbread is from Inside the Rustic Kitchen. The green beans were just cooked in our air fryer with garlic and olive oil and sea salt. YUM!
Fresh Tomato and Long Bean Pasta with Sautéed Kale
One of DTD’s patients gave us some fresh tomatoes and long beans, which are hard to come by. We love them cooked up with pasta and the beans are as long as the noodles! We used whole wheat pasta and served it with a side of kale. So fresh and healthy and delicious! The pasta recipe is from The Pasta Project and the kale from My Nourished Home. We had wine with this one, and it was a perfect pairing. Unlike on vacation, one glass was enough – especially during the week.
Benanti Etna Rosso is a Sicilian wine aptly named after the Etna volcano. Made with grapes common in that area (80% Nerello Mascalese and 20% Nerello Cappuccio,) this was a terrific pairing with the major umami flavors of the fresh tomatoes and kale. Wine Enthusiast and Wine Advocate rated this a 91 and Wine Spectator gave it 90 points.
As you can see, the key factor in all of these meals is fresh ingredients. I needed to slowly wean myself away from my vacation carb-extravaganza, so two of these meals had pasta, but only whole wheat. Carbs definitely cause fatigue, which is particularly problematic when readjusting to humdrum everyday life. Beans are a great source of fiber, which you know DTD LOVES, and when they are fresh beans, they are really a treat.
It is so important to exercise every day, especially after a vacation. I am amazed at how quickly I can lose strength when just taking a few weeks off of strenuous exercise. While I try to be active on vacation, I still need to ramp up exercise when we return. Getting that heart rate up every day helps with mood and sleep as well.
Practice Good Sleep Hygiene
Sleeping in my own bed after a trip is glorious, but sometimes a good night’s rest is still challenging. Maybe it’s the time change or the long to-do list creeping into the mind in the wee hours of the night. The key to sleeping well often lies in reestablishing a consistent bedtime routine. Also, avoiding caffeine after noon and limiting alcohol consumption, which can disrupt sleep patterns. Daily exercise also helps.
Connect with Others
Seek out the people who make you smile and avoid the ones you find draining. Human connections are vital for a healthy mind. When you return from a vacation high, try to spend time with those you love. Share your vacation photos and find out what they’ve been up to while you were gone. If you have people at work or in your life who you don’t particularly enjoy or who seem to drain all of your energy, limit your time with them as much as possible when you first return from your trip. Slowly add them back into your schedule as you are able to tolerate them without too much anxiety.
If I Can do it, so Can YOU!
Have you noticed that getting healthy after a vacation involves much of the same effort as staying healthy while on vacation? I sometimes find it a huge bummer that the answer to everything health related so often boils down to eat better, exercise, and get good sleep. Can’t I just take a pill or something?! I would prefer to live life eating pasta and drinking wine and lounging around reading novels…
I have had to learn to embrace and appreciate a healthy lifestyle, and I assure you that it does get a lot easier and even enjoyable once you commit. If you eat processed food several days in a row, you begin to crave that type of food, especially the salts and sweets. However, the reverse is also true. If you eat healthy foods several days in a row, you feel better and begin to crave fresh ingredients. Try it! You will be surprised at how good you feel in just a few days.
Also, saying “no” to too many commitments is a learned skill. Practice makes perfect!
If you just finished traveling, welcome back to reality! It’s not so bad, once you get the hang of it.
If you have a healthy recipe you’d like to share, find me on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or Twitter or send me an email at dinnertabledoctor.com