Las Vegas Eating Adventure

Eating healthy in Las VegasLast weekend was our weekend mecca to Las Vegas for fantasy football. It’s not typical that a fantasy football draft turns into a full weekend, but our group makes it more than just a draft. That is to be expected with friends of 25+ years getting together, many who haven’t seen each other since last August. This year was different for me, I would be headed to Las Vegas and faced with an eating adventure. Since changing my diet last October I have been plant strong for over 10 months now, consuming fish only on the rare occasion. This weekend in Las Vegas was to be biggest challenge since changing my diet.

With the exception of one friend, no one knew I had changed my lifestyle, making the decision to stop eating meat, dairy and oil. It shouldn’t matter what I choose to eat and thankfully there was a bit of ribbing from my buddies, but that was to be expected. All of them accepted my changes and some even asked questions. I took being called “skinny Minny” as a complement. I was faced with decisions on what to eat. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but I made the best decisions I could and didn’t worry about.

Thankfully I have improved my health the past 10 months and was already at my weight goal. While this might not be a big deal, I didn’t really worry about how much or what I ate and alcohol consumed. The only meal that had me worried was dinner on Friday night. As our tradition has it, we eat at The N9NE Steakhouse located in The Palms Hotel. The past years I have let loose my carnivore instincts and ate steak, much like my friends. This year after perusing the menu before heading to Las Vegas I was hoping to order vegetables and a baked potato.

Let’s start with Friday morning, as a habit before leaving the house I had a bowl of Nutty Nuggets (Grape Nuts) with almond milk. I was going to be the first to arrive in Las Vegas and I figured I would not have many options while waiting in the airport. I was hungry some 4 hours later while waiting for my friends to arrive. I settled on a Naked Blue Machine and roasted peanuts, which I planned on being a snack, but ended up being lunch. Someone from McDougall Friends (Facebook group) suggested a potato from the Wendy’s in the airport but looking at their menu I did not see it available.

Once we got checked in to the hotel it was off the bar at the pool area. While I have been very good the past 2 months on consuming alcohol, I knew this weekend would be two steps backwards, but I was willing to accept this. Actually standing at the bar I consumed 3 beers in about 3 hours. Unfortunately I was still hungry and waiting to get a menu, but decided to hold out until dinner.

Dinner was the highlight of the trip, as it usually is. Good friends, good food and good conversation. While every one was considering their order I was sizing up the menu again for what I would order. While not completely “on plan” I decided to start with an assorted sashimi platter. I considered a salad, but realized I would be picking more stuff out of the salad that I would be eating, so I decided against a salad. Soup was another option, but their choices all contained out. So it was either no appetizer or the sashimi platter, which I started with.

The dinner order was actually easy. I told the waiter I didn’t eat meat, dairy and oil and said in his English accent, “No problem mate, we’ll do you a platter of assorted vegetables.” Excellent! I also ordered a plain baked potato and a side of steak sauce. When the veggies arrived it was zucchini, red and green peppers and portabello mushroom, all of which looked as if they had been grilled. Never having a portabello before I was amazed at the meaty texture and the flavor, which was drizzled with a balsamic reduction sauce. Prior to the dinner I had ordered a scotch and water and order two more with dinner. I decided to pass on dessert.

After dinner I found myself satiated and ready to spend the next few hours (now 1000pm) gambling and hanging out with friends. After a few hours of gambling, I found myself getting hungry again. By this time I was done gambling and decided to head to my room. It wasn’t long before I was headed back down to the Mr Lucky’s, 24 hour cafe to order something “light” before bed. I ended up ordering a Thai Tuna Salad. Instead of turning to something fried chose the best option I could based on the menu options. Again, it was fish with fresh mango, cashews, edamame, red pepper, cilantro and I was able to get the mint-lime vinaigrette, on the side.

The following morning I went back down to Mr. Lucky’s to watch early morning soccer from England and have breakfast. This was an easy decision ordering the Steel Cut Oats (served with carmel apple compote, raisins, candied pecans and cinnamon sugar, all on the side) and a mixed berry bowl (with the vanilla bean cream on the side). I was beginning to feel like Meg Ryan with my ordering and everything “on the side.” This was a very good start to the day, as I held off using the cinnamon sugar and limited pecans. Instead I opted to add the mixed berries (blueberry, raspberry and strawberry) to my oats.

Saturday was probably the day I made the worst decisions, but still I tried to eat as good as possible, but it wasn’t realistic. The late morning started out with all sorts of problems as we tried to get our Internet connection online to start our fantasy football draft. After 90 minutes and much swearing, we had resolved the problem, not the best solution, but one that worked. By that time I was hungry and decide to get a Tuna Wrap. There were no vegetarian sandwiches or salads to order. We had ordered a plate of fruit, but that only tied me over for a short period. I would end up ordering another Tuna Wrap later in the day.

After the draft, just hanging out talking about our teams I decided to order the hummus plate, which came with pita bread and vegetables. Oil-free, the hummus was not, but I consumed it anyway. It wouldn’t be the food that did me in on Saturday but the alcohol. I didn’t have any beer, but had three Long Island Iced Teas through out the day. By the time these were in me many of these were water down. It wasn’t long after that I started in on the Johnnie Walker Blue.

I wouldn’t make it dinner that night, as I came up to my room, started to do some work on my laptop and decided to lay down. I recall getting a call from my roommate for the weekend that they were waiting for me for dinner (Nobu, the sushi bar). He even came up, saw me crashed on the bed and didn’t bother me. I ended up having no dinner Saturday night, followed by no breakfast at McCarren Airport in Las Vegas at 6am.

Little did I know I would be flying to San Diego and then onto San Francisco, with a 60 minute delay. While laying over in San Diego, I bought a Naked Green Machine. It wouldn’t be until I got home, about 2pm that I would break into the refrigerator and get back to good, healthy eating.

Looking back it was truly an eating adventure. While the decisions weren’t perfect, I did the best I could with what I had. Never leaving the hotel limited my choices on what I could eat. I probably ate too much fish this weekend, much like drinking too much alcohol. This was one of those “treat” weekends and in only resulted in a 2.3 pound gain over the course of 3 days. Now that I am home and have had a few days I am back on my program like I never left. Potatoes, grains and leafy greens have been on the menu all week long. While the Vegas trip was enjoyable, thanks in part to my friends I do believe I could have made it a “healthier” eating adventure if I would have remember to bring some foods with me. Thankfully this adventure happens only once a year.