How you eat on vacation just might tell you why you’re spinning in circles with overeating.
When it comes to overeating, vacation is something a lot of women approach like the holiday season. They see overeating as inevitable and vacation as a reason to hit pause on plans for tackling it.
“Losing weight is on hold until we get back from vacation,” or “I know I’ll probably gain a few pounds when I’m gone” is the extent of healthy eating “planning” many people do.
True – vacation is vacation. It’s an opportunity to escape the demands of life, to rest, and enjoy freedom from the normal day-to-day. AND the way you approach eating and overeating on holiday says a lot about how you think about it for the rest of your life.
Do you need a vacation from your expectations with food?
Are you someone who believes that vacation is your chance to indulge and eat freely without guilt or consequence? Do you “get” to order anything on the menu (plus appetizers) when you’re on vacation?
If so, it’s worth considering what your expectations are for your eating in the rest of your life.
When eating with abandon feels like freedom! it can be a sign that you’re feeling restricted and deprived in your day-to-day relationship with food.
There’s a big difference between achieving freedom from overeating or peace with food and struggling to create perfect control (which never happens, by the way). Dieting can set you up for what I call deprivation thinking and a mindset that success is only achieved if you go without, stay strong, and are “winning” a battle with food.
A deprivation approach (focusing on what you won’t eat, what you’ll make yourself do, or what you’ll do without) also sets you up with all-or-nothing expectations and a mindset that “you’re either on your eating plan or you’re on vacation.”
I believe in creating freedom from overeating instead of learning how to live with feeling deprived.
Freedom from overeating is a life-long state that you achieve when you approach your overeating or emotional eating with a transformational mindset. Instead of conquering the scale or battling with your eating, you learn how to take your power back from food so the struggle dissolves.
When you have peace with food and overeating freedom, it no longer feels compelling or “free” to eat your way through vacation. Sure, you might indulge in some extra treats or gastronomic pleasures, but your day-to-day relationship with food isn’t something you want to take a vacation from or be free of. It’s already peaceful and free – and it works for you.
A deprivation mindset sets you up for the hamster wheel
One of the questions I always ask clients when they are getting ready for vacation is how they want to feel on the plane or the drive back home – after the vacation has ended. Of course, there isn’t a right answer, but what I usually hear are things like, relaxed, peaceful, satisfied, like I had a week full of fun, light, energized, happy, and rested. Almost always, people aspire to bring that rejuvenation back to their routine life.
A deprivation mindset and an all-or-nothing approach with food and overeating don’t set you up to bring anything home with you in terms of your nourishment – except maybe feeling bloated, tired, and like you “need to start over” now that vacation is over.
The deprivation mindset dictates that the alternative to vacation overindulgence is … deprivation
The never-ending all-or-nothing flip flop is what makes emotional eating and overeating struggles feel like such a frustrating hamster wheel – even on vacation.
The secret to real peace with food and real freedom is to move beyond the deprivation mindset and transform the way you think about food in the first place.
Yes, I know, this might sound a bit heady, vague, and even overwhelming when all you want to do is go on vacation, but moving out of deprivation thinking and being more peaceful with food over vacation doesn’t need to be complicated.
How to have peace with food on vacation
The easiest approach begins with making some decisions in advance. This puts you in the driver’s seat instead of feeling like you’re at the mercy of or reacting to, all the unexpected events that happen when you’re away from your daily routines.
By the way, I’m not talking about making decisions about calories or carbs. Let’s go back to that question I mentioned earlier.
How do you want to feel at the end of your vacation?
Now, ask yourself –
If feeling this way was my only goal (and it probably isn’t, but that’s okay), how would I eat?
I don’t know how you answered this question, but I know for me and my clients, taking this perspective can shift things. Maybe you want to eat in a way that contributes to good sleep, or you want to feel light and energized in the afternoons. Perhaps you want to savor the incredible tropical fruit. There might be special food or restaurants that you are really excited about, but you don’t want to come home feeling bloated and weighed down by a bunch of tortilla chips that you mindlessly ate with the margaritas…
What choices do you want to make with food so that you can feel the way you want to feel? (This includes the things you absolutely DO want to indulge in as well as what it will take to make sure you savor and fully enjoy them.)
And because vacation is a rest and it is often unstructured:
Are there policies you want to set in advance (like no mindless chip eating or a two drink maximum)?
What will help you stay in touch with your plan to support your vacation with a peaceful way of eating (like a daily walk alone, or a reminder you set on your phone to drink more water or being sure you have fresh mangoes in your condo)?
One last question:
Is there anything you might do to extend your peaceful eating from vacation into the first 48 hours that you are home? Is there anything about eating to feel rested or energized, or vital, or calm that you might like to bring into your everyday life?
Eating is an everyday thing. It’s sensual. With thought, it can be delicious. Life’s too short to feel like we need to take a vacation from the way we eat. You can change that – and you don’t have to wait till you get back from vacation to get started.