5 Tips to Eat Clean on Vacation

Last week my husband surprised me with a second honeymoon trip to St. Croix, which is one of the US Virgin Islands in the Caribbean.  It was absolutely gorgeous!

Buck Island, St. Croix

Our anniversary also happened to fall within my bodybuilding competition prep, which meant I needed to find the right balance between having fun/eating out and not packing on a ton of vacation weight.

Standing with my man in St. Croix

Usually when I travel I take an insulated bag with turkey meatballs and other food I’ve made at home.  Since we had to go through customs though, the airline rules said I could only bring meat that was in unopened wrapping (like beef jerky).  Instead, I brought 12 single-serve packs of Quest protein powder, an empty shaker bottle and a bag of almonds for my travel food.

As soon as we landed they handed us shots of Cruzan Vanilla Rum, which is the most amazing alcoholic beverage I’ve ever had in my life.  It’s made right on the island and when in St. Croix drink what the Crucian’s drink!

Yes, this was going to be a real challenge for me to eat clean all week!

Cruzan Vanilla Rum

Fortunately, my husband rented us a condo with a kitchen, knowing that I would want to cook my own food at least part of the time.

We drove to the grocery store (and when I say “we” I mean “my husband” because they drive on the left side in St. Croix and that totally freaked me out) and bought the following: eggs, onion, red and green peppers, lettuce, old fashioned oatmeal, tilapia, chicken, bacon, one potato, seasonings and some Diet Pepsi (you know, for the rum).  This added up to over $100!

Groceries for the week

Since St. Croix is a remote island, pretty much everything in the store was crazy expensive, (i.e. lettuce cost $5) but at least we saved on some trips to restaurants where entrees ranged from $14-$35 and that’s not including drinks.

Speaking of restaurants, we decided to make the first night we arrived our big anniversary dinner night, which would also be my cheat meal.  Part of living a healthy lifestyle is enjoying special moments and feeling ok including food as part of your celebrations.

We walked to a restaurant on the North Shore called Breezez and the food was fantastic.


I ordered garlic and butter lobster with scalloped potatoes and salad and drank two Calypso Daiquiris.

Lobster with scalloped potatoes

My husband ordered T-bone steak and grilled vegetables and ordered a few cocktails.

Steak and grilled vegetables

Since I don’t eat cheat meals that often, I’m pretty fussy because if it doesn’t taste good I feel like it’s wasted calories.

The food was to die for.

I even ordered a slice of almond cheesecake and that was outstanding too.  Our waitress, Ann, was really good and she even put the first round of drinks on the house since it was our anniversary.  That was honestly the best cheat meal I had in years.

My biggest challenge was all the rum – it was everywhere and went down so smoothly.  From the snorkel trip to Buck Island…

On the boat ride to Buck Island

to every restaurant we ate at…

Cocktail anyone?

to just hanging out in our room, we were boozing it up!  I gained two pounds and it was literally all alcohol weight because beyond Christmas and New Years I drink never.  (I’m happy to report that I’ve been home now for a few days and shed the cocktail pounds, but it took some serious cardio penance on the treadmill.)

The rest of the vacation was pretty much a food balancing act.  We made scrambled eggs with bacon and vegetables for breakfast every morning.

Egg scramble with coffee

I cooked up the tilapia with lemon pepper seasoning and ate it with the $5 lettuce.  I’m not sure if the tilapia was caught locally or what, but it tasted a lot fresher than the fish I typically buy in the store near my home in Texas, so that was a nice bonus.

Tilapia and greens

Some nights we ate out at local restaurants, especially if we were doing day trips to snorkel or visit local historical sites.  I stuck mostly to items that were filling but smaller portions, like New England clam chowder at Rum Runners or chili and salad at the restaurant next to our condo.

Chili and salad

If you happen to be travelling to St. Croix, I highly recommend going to Reina’s Chicken Shack.  The guy sitting next to us on the plane grew up in St. Croix and told us this was the spot where all the locals go, and we discovered why.  The rotisserie chicken was off the hook.  They also sold barbecue chicken and stew, but I went with the healthiest choice.

Reina’s Chicken Shack

Most days we were swimming or hiking around the island.  For lunch I tended to bring salad and grilled chicken in my backpack.

A picnic at the lighthouse

A healthy lunch

Other days I packed protein shakes and almonds for lunch.

Lunch at the beach

So, I’m happy to report that it is possible to eat clean on vacation and still eat out.  If you are taking a trip to St. Croix, or a vacation in general, and don’t want to kill your waistline, here are some tips for you…

Sunrise over the Caribbean Sea

5 tips to Eat Clean on Vacation:

  1. If possible, cook your own food at least part of the time
  2. When eating out, order smaller portions
  3. Pack travel-friendly items like protein powder and almonds for the plane ride and snacks on the go
  4. When you are having a cheat meal, savor it!  Part of having a healthy lifestyle is enjoying food and maintaining balance.  Also, have your cheat the first day so you’re not feeling deprived on vacation.  After that, you will probably want to go back to eating clean because who wants to gain weight when you’re hanging out in a bathing suit all day?
  5. Go easy on the alcohol.  (I should really follow my own advice!)  At the very least chase a cocktail with something non-alcoholic like water or Diet Coke.  (I actually did do that.  #Moderation).

Hope that helps!  I’ll be writing up a few more posts about St. Croix this week.  It’s a gorgeous place and I can’t wait to share more pics with you!

Lisa 🙂

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Lisa Traugott is a Mom’s Choice Award winning writer, fitness blogger, wife and mom of two….and Original Cast Member of AMERICAN GRIT, starring John Cena, on FOX!!!

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