Travelling is an integral part of the job description of being the drummer of an indie rock band. I usually spend over half of each year on the road whizzing between cities. It is exciting but isn’t exactly conducive to creating rhythm and routines. This is especially true when it comes to meal time. Since adding a hungry baby to the mix I have started to think about what, how, and when we eat on the road. I am so committed to giving Henry a great start in life and I know that food plays a big part. When we are home I try to make all of my own baby food and meals from scratch using fresh, local, and organic ingredients. But on the road this just isn’t going to happen. Even when we are in the same area for a while on a trip it can be a challenge to make a recipe when you can’t find the ingredients you normally use (trying to make gluten-free bread in Sweden… ugh). I have found that rules are meant to be broken and that a more modifiable approach is needed. Instead of freaking out and beating myself up about what Henry is eating I try to think about my over arching goals when it comes to his meals. I know that we are at the beginning of his lifelong relationship with eating and we are hoping to help him fall in love with fresh and healthy food. I want him to be an adventurous eater who tries new things. I want to raise a young man who knows that eating is about nourishing your body and your spirit. Here are some of the pearls of wisdom I have gathered over the last few months of travel with a new eater:
moderation and variety are key, so is flexibility.
Sometimes when we are home for a long period of time we fall into a bit of a food rut where we are eating the same sort of meals every day. This kind of monotony is often shattered when we are travelling. Life on tour is unpredictable at best and a lot of what we eat is ‘out of our hands’. We spend the days en route eating as we travel to our show and in the evening we are often fed by our hosts. There is often lots of variety but keeping moderation in mind when there is an entire pizza in front of you and you are in Italy (birth place of pizza!! ! ! !) can be challenging. I find that thinking of my food habits and those of my children on a macro level can help ease my anxiety and be flexible. It can be hard to watch my son eat a meal of only plain pasta and butter at a restaurant but I keep cool by remembering all the other opportunities he will have for the rest of the day and week to eat vegetable and protein filled foods.
meal time isn’t play time, but it should still be fun
It can be hard for little ones to focus and sit still during their meals. This is to be expected ! The attention span and relationship with their body, the world around them, and food is just forming. When they are seated at the table for dinner they could be more engaged with the whirring of the ceiling fan then the salmon on their high chair tray. Try to keep bringing their focus back to the meal in a fun way. Talk about what you’re eating and where it came from, encourage manipulation and self feeding, share bites of your meal with them. It can feel easier to let a favourite toy come to the table to keep them occupied but this is a bad habit to start.
eating isn’t an activity for distraction
This concept goes with the one above. When you are traveling and need to be in the car for a while or take a long flight it can be easy to use food to pacify and placate your kids into behaving. This kind of relationship to foods can become toxic quickly. Mindlessly munching as you travel can throw off your appetite and lead to consuming way too many calories absent-mindedly. This is especially true when you think about how hard it is to prepare and eat anything in the car that is warm, fresh, and requires utensils. Usually these distraction foods also tend to be junk foods.
set the example
This goes for what you put in your mouth and for your attitude towards food and health. It’s going to be hard to convince your kids to choose carrot sticks and humus instead of chips if they see you grabbing Doritos from the vending machine. Keep your bag stocked with healthy snacks for food emergencies. When you are traveling this might mean planning ahead and making some snacks before hand or researching where to get staples at your destination. Set time aside to be mindful and engage with eating. If you are always over scheduling yourself and eating on the go your kids will be more likely to adopt the practice as well. Have fun with food. Try to find meals and restaurants that can accommodate everyone’s food allergies and preferences.