Intuitive Eating while on Vacation
What is your mindset and attitude towards food when you are on vacation?
Do you consume lots of desserts, snacks and alcohol, thinking “I’m on vacation so I deserve to eat and drink whatever I want!” Or do you go on a cruise, or to an all-inclusive resort, and think “I need to get my money’s worth” and then proceed to eat and drink much more than usual?
How we think about food (and alcohol) in various situations tells us a lot about our relationship with food in general. So whether you are planning to enjoy a few days off over the school half term break or planning to go abroad for a bit of sun this winter, it’s helpful to consider how your thoughts about food (and alcohol) change when your routine changes or when you are on vacation.
One of the amazing qualities of Intuitive Eating (which is based on eating when your body is physically hungry and stopping when your body has had a sufficient amount), is that you can apply it whenever and wherever you go. It doesn’t revolve around restriction or deprivation, so you won’t be anxious to get away from it the second you have the chance. Instead, the whole focus of Intuitive Eating is to take care of yourself, to give your body the fuel it needs to function well and to pay attention to how your thoughts around food change in various situations. Of course you can (and should!) still have fun, still try new foods and even choose to eat more than what your body needs at times, but the goal is to pay attention to how these different decisions make you feel so that you can choose whether you want to do anything differently in the future.
If you have a long history of “dieting,” don’t be surprised if your old mindset sneaks in and tries to takes over in these situations — luring you into the belief that you need to “make the most of it while you have the chance.” But if you are eating intuitively, you just need to remind yourself that no food is off limits and you are free to have any food whenever you like, as long as you are paying attention to your body’s cues for hunger and fullness. Ice cream in January? Sure. Mince pies in July. No problem. It is interesting to observe however, that when you know you can have chocolate or crisps (or whatever food) whenever you like, you may decide not to eat them each and every time they are made available to you.
So if you are planning a vacation (or some time off) in the next month, here are some tips so you can apply Intuitive Eating wherever you go.
1) Rethink buffets and all-inclusive resorts.
If you actually ate according to what your body needed and asked for, are buffets and all-inclusive resorts still good value for money? Once you’ve paid out, it is phenomenally difficult to override the desire to then try and get your “money’s worth.” Plus, free and easy access to food and drink tempts most people to eat just because the food is there as opposed to eating/drinking because their body is actually asking for food. You may decide that staying in an AirB&B or a hotel is a better option, especially if you struggle with temptation. Also, notice whether buffets and all-inclusive resorts typically prepare food of an exquisitely high calibre. If not, you may find made-to-order foods from a local restaurant a lot more satisfying.
2) Make your focus the sights, sounds, experiences and people of your destination…not the food.
Depending on where you go, perhaps there are some foods which are not going to be available at any other time and you want to enjoy them more while you have the chance. There is nothing wrong with this but pay attention – do you enjoy these foods more or less when you are physically hungry? How about when you are full to the brim? And if your vacation involves mostly relaxing and socialising with friends, is there a way you can do that without everything revolving around food and drink? Could you go hiking or play boardgames instead?
3) Sit down, taste and enjoy your food.
If you are eating ice cream, sit down and eat it. If you want to enjoy a chocolate, sit down, pay attention to it and savour every mouthful. Grabbing food on “the run” rarely leads to much enjoyment because your brain is usually so focused on where you are going and what you are doing, that it can barely register that you’ve eaten at all. That can lead to wanting more food at a later time.