When I was in my early twenties my husband and I honeymooned at an all inclusive resort. It was magical and I neither weighed myself before or after. Forever after I would compare every other adventure to those ten days we spent together. We did whatever we wanted, ate and drank whatever we wanted, and did it all whenever we wanted. But, the reality is that I am not in my twenties anymore. I’m 37 with two little girls and a body that is going through perimenopause (super fun). My vision for this vacation is being able to chase the girls down the beach and laugh with my husband. I want to comfortably walk through Sea World and dive and swim my way through a water park. I want to wake up each morning rested and enjoy a body that is fueled not floored by the meals I eat. I want to be engaged, not uncomfortable for the seven days we spend together.
I’m going to offer you three different approaches to your food (and drinks) that often help me and women that I coach when they are going on vacation or doing something else short term that throws them out of their normal routines. I want you to consider each approach and whether or not it applies to you and your situation. Then pick something you think might support you. This is a trial and error process to be ready to learn and celebrate that new knowledge.
Stick to timing. Sticking to timing means that you eat the same meals at roughly the same time that you do at home even though it might be very different foods. For example, if you typically support yourself by not eating after dinner, then you could enjoy a meal at a restaurant but decline drinks and snacks after you push back your plate. Or, if you don’t normally eat breakfast and have no concern that your activity level or schedule might make skipping breakfast difficult, then you could continue that practice. I don’t typically eat breakfast so I won’t have it on the mornings that we are driving or that we don’t have an active morning planned. I also don’t plan on eating after dinner. I will sip on some water, tea, or decaf coffee instead of snacking or having other beverages after that last meal. I know that it helps me both sleep better and keeps me from eating things that don’t serve me. Now, this is a mind game. You have to embrace your healthy choices instead of mentally lamenting what you aren’t eating or else you are likely to either cave or feel left out.
Sticking to timing helps you maintain a healthy habit that you have already established. We don’t need to throw out all our habits just because we’re on vacation or spending a few days out of our normal routine. Plus, it will help you get back to normal when you get home again.
Avoid trigger foods. This approach is very important for some of my clients who are prone to binging or emotional eating. I have to do this as well. I know myself and while I love vacation, I can also become overwhelmed by the lack of time to be alone with my thoughts as an introvert. In the past I have often turned to chocolate, by the pound, to comfort my frazzled emotions. However, I’ve also noticed that if I stay away from my go-to foods for emotional eatings than I’m more likely to turn to healthier options for some TLC. What would be some trigger foods for you? For some women this might be actually food items like pasta dishes or fried chicken that once eaten they dive off the deep end for the rest of the trip. Be honest with yourself, if you can’t eat that food in portion sizes within the situation you are in, then avoiding that food altogether might be a wise choice. It might even be worth making a list of some of your trigger foods with a substitute that you know you would enjoy but be able to stay in control with. For example, on my list I have candy (all candy) that I am willing to substitute with whole apples, wine that I will substitute with a hard seltzer, and chips that I can substitute with fresh veggies. As a side note, I have recently noticed that after three years on this journey, I have victory over eating in restaurants. I almost always order either a dairy-free salad or a grilled meat with veggies. I have this quest to find the most yummy and enjoyable salad combinations on the planet and have become way more adventurous in what I will try from the menu. Gone is the girl that almost always ordered chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes and gravy. Not that I don’t love that, but I’m excited about enjoying both the salad but also the light and satisfied feeling I have after the meal. So far my favorite salad to-date was a spinach, avocado, and bacon salad topped with pico de gallo from Leal’s in Clovis, NM on a field trip.
Portion Control. Portion control is another approach that works really well for many of the women I work with. Once they are in touch with their hunger signals and how different foods affect their bodies, eating away from home becomes so much easier. They know they can eat a broad array of foods at a portion that supports their bodies. How this works is they fill their plates and enjoy their food, when they start to feel satisfied they stop eating. Then, they don’t eat again until they are physically hungry. I love this. If you can eat to your hunger signals and are aware of how different food affects your body then you don’t need a perfect menu or situation to eat in a way that supports your body. I have to admit, this skill is hard one, especially if you grew up in a home where your parents required you to clean your plate. At home I have learned not to overfill my plate, but I still struggle with this in restaurants especially when I have no way to take home left-overs. So, be aware of yourself.
Okay, my dears, are you ready for vacation? I hope so. Go ahead and let me know what approach you would like to try the next time you're on vacation, visiting relatives, or hosting a multi-day family gathering. One thing that I have absolutely loved is teaching my girls how to approach their own eating in a way that is both healthy and enjoyable. As you make changes, you aren’t just making them for yourself, you’re making them for the people in your life, too. I’m so proud of you.
Keep up the great work. All my love to you, dear friends. Talk to you next week!
by Lora Armendariz
You Can Do It!
Do you want to fall out of love with a destructive habit? The first 42 episodes of this podcast are a resource for anyone who wants encouragement and information as they take a six week break from a habit in order to fall out of love with it.