...do as the Romans do.
The entire quote, attributed to St. Ambrose is, "si fueris Rōmae, Rōmānō vīvitō mōre; si fueris alibī, vīvitō sicut ibi."
Or.." if you should be in Rome, live in the Roman manner; if you should be elsewhere, live as they do there."
Me at a sidewalk cafe in Rome
That is, adapt to where you are. This is easy to accomplish if you don't care about your weight or don't have any dietary restrictions. But this is much harder to do if you are 1) trying to stick to a weight-loss plan; and 2) have food sensitivities that make eating some foods unpleasant.
How did I handle my 10 days in Rome (the pasta capital of the world, no less) the last part of May/first part of June this year? First off, let me set the stage. I am a 150+ 61-year-old who is trying to get back down to my goal weight of 135 after 2 years of hovering between 150 and 155+. I have been avoiding gluten, limiting my dairy, and well, trying to limit my carbs/sweets....
So what did I do when I spent 10 days in Rome attending a conference for 4 days and being a tourist with my husband the rest of the time?
I mostly avoided gluten for breakfasts. My husband would eat the bread and cheeses and meats on continental breakfasts. I'd go for yogurt and fruit/nuts on top, or eggs or a variety of other things...but no bread. Once or twice Isampled some cake-like breads.
For lunch, I avoided pasta. Ate salads, meat dishes...but did sample some of the desserts and afternoon cookies the conference.
I enjoyed wine with dinner. A couple of times I had wine with lunch, too. We ate dinner late (after 8 p.m. most days). We had two amazing meals--one the conference banquet at an estate on a hillside outside of Rome, another dinner at a garden restaurant near our hotel. Other days we ate at local restaurants. I at (most days) or fish dishes. Veal, saltimbocca, fish, pizza, salads. A couple of times I had bread and pasta with my meals. I even add a wonderful parma ham thin crusted pizza one night.
Truth be told, only one or two nights did my food indulgences bother me the next day. I'm guessing that the flour used in in Italy is quite different than what we have here in the USA. So it didn't bother me nearly as much. The pasta, however, was another story....it and I did not agree with each other.
Finally, I did a lot of walking. Every day I wasn't at the conference I put in many miles being a tourist/site seeing (the first day I think we really over did it 11+ miles). Most days, however, we walked from 5-8 miles. And that, indeed, was as the Romans do. A lot of people (not just tourists) get out and walk. Little old men and ladies, kids, people with dogs, lovers, friends....
Me at Trevi fountain pretending to toss in a coin.
And the rest of the tourists at the fountain:
At the coliseum, which was much bigger, you didn't notice the crowds of tourists so much. There was a lot of walking up big tall steps there:
When I came home I had 2-3 pounds to lose. Most was water weight. Flying does that to me. I lost that within 3 days of getting home. Since then I've been following Beach Phase I gluten free plan to get me back in the groove. I'm really serious about reaching my goal weight again this year.
It's about time.
My advice when you are in a strange/different place: Plan to do your best. Adapt, but don't be silly. If you need to watch your glutens, do so. If you need to eat less salty food, do that. But don't forget to enjoy yourself, either.
Life is for living! And when you are at home, you can once again do as you normally do.