Greatest Hits of Summer: Peace with Food on Vacation | TMOHP Episode 139

This episode was originally published as Episode 44. I’m bringing it back because I get SO many questions about how to plan for eating (and not overeating) on vacation.

I’m a huge believer in vacations, but you shouldn’t have to take a vacation from your relationship with food. Unfortunately, many smart, busy women feel like they do. The culprit: diet mentality, and thoughts and beliefs you might not even know you have.

In this episode, I have some of my own thoughts to share with you about vacation eating and peace with food. Let’s talk about what works, what doesn’t, why it’s important to be curious about your own vacation eating, and how to take charge of your vacation eating without accidentally putting yourself on some sort of deprivation plan or diet.

What I cover in this episode:

  • How diet mentality makes your thoughts about vacation eating complicated
  • The two thoughts that sabotage our eating on vacation
  • How to enjoy your vacation and honor your goals (if you want to)
  • Why freedom from overeating isn’t a cheat day or depriving yourself on vacation (and how to figure out what it IS for you)

Featured on the show:

  • Your Missing Peace  is my 16-week program for women ready to stop overeating and emotional eating for good. Enrollment is open and NOW is the perfect time to join us! Go here to learn more
  • Private Coaching. One-on-one coaching is for you if you’re looking for something that’s completely individualized and specific to your situation. Openings are limited. Learn more here.

Episode Transcript

Hey everybody today on the podcast, I want to talk with you about vacation, about eating and overeating, about peace with food and about how these things all either work together or can get really tangled up. All right? These are issues that have been coming up quite a bit in the Missing Peace program among members and things that they want coaching on in our coaching calls.

And also with my one-on-one clients, it is this season of vacation. And it turns out we have lots of thoughts and beliefs about vacation and eating and overeating and indulging and treats and what we are allowed to do that's in air quotes or what we should be doing. And it also turns out that a lot of these thoughts and beliefs are just existing in people's minds. And we're not really aware of them, they're just there. 

If you haven't heard me say this before on a podcast episode, here is the thing about our thoughts and beliefs. They have so much power if we give it to them and the places where our thoughts and beliefs can have the most power is if we're not recognizing that, “Oh, this is just a thought I could have another thought. This is just a belief. Is it something I really believe?”

Because if you have a thought enough and you don't have enough distance from it to know that, oh, this is just a thought, it's not reality. Then it starts to feel like reality. It starts to feel like fact. Here are some thoughts and beliefs that I have been hearing recently about vacation and about traveling and about eating.

I have been hearing a number of women who tell me, “You know what, I'm doing really well. I am feeling like I'm really on the track to creating a peaceful relationship with food. I love how I'm eating. It is working for me. I am reaching my goal. Sometimes I'm even losing some weight. It does not feel like struggle. It feels really good, but I have this vacation coming up. And vacation to me means freedom vacation. To me means no rules vacation to me means I get to do whatever I want. And it means the fun food. It means there are no portion limits. It means I get to eat whatever I want and order whatever I want off the menu. It means that I get to have fun with food. And then what it means is I go on vacation and, or in the past, what it has meant is I go on vacation and whatever it is that I've been working on or putting together or trying to do with food. It has totally come apart. And then when I come back, I feel like I'm back at square one.

Three things, I guess the first thing is I hear this a lot. Second of all, that kind of thinking is the result of being in diet mentality. The whole idea that the only way to be with food is to have a bunch of rigid rules and you have to have self control and you have to be following a program and there are, shoulds.

Right? You have to constrain yourself. It is a recipe for wanting to have a vacation from that. And it creates an either or, or it can create an either or situation where you're either on the program or off the program. And I just want to be really clear that what I teach and what I believe in and what I see that works with the women that I work with in the Missing Peace program and in my coaching programs and in my own life is not rooted in diet mentality and restraint and restriction or anything that requires a lot of willpower and needing to be really strong.

But if you have residue of that, or if you have a lot of that in your life, vacation is a place where this is likely to show up. Because again, it's the dichotomy between, working and not working. Being restricted and being free. And of course, when you're on vacation, you want to have fun. You want to play, you don't want to have an alarm clock set. And so if you are in a restrictive diet mentality relationship with food, vacation not only can be a time where you have given yourself permission to step out of that, but it can be (like I said even if you just have a residue of that) a trigger for you to let go of some things that actually aren't diet mentality that are feeling really good in your life, because you may have old stories and beliefs about what vacation is about that are getting in your way.

I'm going to say more about this. But I feel like this is the time where we have to interrupt this broadcast to remind you and not actually to remind you, but to remind the old thoughts that are probably circling around in your brain, that this is not a diet mentality podcast. So, what I am preparing you to hear is not about how you can stay on your diet on vacation, how you can only eat healthy on vacation, how you can go on vacation and lose 10 pounds, that's diet mentality thinking.

And those may be your goals. Maybe you do want to go on vacation and you want to be sure to eat vegetables at every meal, or maybe you do want to go on vacation and continue a trend of weight loss that you are seeing. But maybe you don't, maybe you want to go on vacation and truly just enjoy food. Maybe you are going to some Mecca of the favorite food that you have and all you want to do is have gelato at every meal or paella on the beach. Those are two things that I love. Maybe it is about the food and really enjoying the food. And you don't want to feel constrained and restricted and maybe you are somebody who wants to lose weight and maybe you've been losing weight and you would like to take a vacation. And you'd like to take a break from that because there are some other places that you want to focus your attention, or you want to do it differently, or you just want to eat some different foods. That is okay. 

This is not a podcast episode that's meant to bolster diet mentality while on vacation. This podcast is rooted in identifying things that can be really helpful in creating a relationship with food that feels free and that feels peaceful and that helps you get to your goals.

And what I want to point out is that it is not unusual to have thoughts and beliefs around vacation and traveling that you might be telling yourself are freeing and peaceful and aren’t. So the place that I see most people get stuck in this dilemma is by setting up something that I already described when I talked about the kind of situations that I hear from my clients and members of the Missing Peace program is we set up in our mind this dichotomy or this choice point between constraint or freedom and that comes out of diet mentality. So here you are going on vacation. You've spent enough time within the world of diet mentality that you tend to have a lot of thoughts that way. And so the thought about going on vacation is am I going to be controlling what I eat or am I going to just let go of that control? Am I going to be free? Is thisstruggle eating, working really hard eating or is this vacation eating? It makes perfect sense. And so if your thoughts are just kind of ping ponging between those two things, it can be really hard to figure out what I call option C. Which is “OK, here's what I should do.” And then there's throwing out the shoulds, right. Constraint is what I should do. Freedom is forget it. There are no rules to me. Option C is what do you want to do? What would you like to do? And the first thing, if you've been living in constraint that your brain tends to tell you is I want to throw out the rules.

I want to turn off the alarm clock. I want to eat everything. I want to empty the minibar. I want it all, right? Constraint versus freedom, sets up a false choice for us, where either of the options doesn't really work. Because as I've talked about on other episodes, freedom, what feels freeing for us changes depending on our perspective, what feels freeing for the next 30 minutes for me?

It might feel freeing for me to say, you know what, I'm not going to record this podcast episode today. I am going to take this half hour and I'm going to go sit on the deck in the sun. And that is freedom for me. Okay. But is it freedom for me at the end of the day when I still have the podcast episode to do, and I wanted to do the podcast episode and I had these important things, I wanted to say.

With food, it might feel freeing in the moment to look at the menu at the restaurant and order the appetizer and the entree and the dessert and to eat it all because I'm on vacation. Do I feel free that evening? When I feel so full, I can't move. Do I feel free when I get home from my vacation? And again, the option isn't constraint versus freedom.

You get to choose option C, which is what do you want? And guess what? On vacation or anytime, sometimes it is ordering the appetizer and the entree and the dessert and enjoying the hell out of it. And maybe feeling too full and being like, oh my gosh, that was the best meal I ever had. Sometimes what you really want might be ordering the appetizer and the entree and the dessert and tasting the appetizer and realizing, oh, this is.

This is really salty. I, you know what, it looks so good on the menu. I don't like it and not eating it because you have freedom. You're you're you can do what you want. You have freedom with food, you can eat it, you cannot eat it. And there will always be more food and there will always be more appetizers.

Right. And sometimes freedom is feeling like, you know what? I really want to be able to wake up tomorrow and I want to feel light and energetic. And I want to go for a walk on the beach and I, if I eat, if I order this versus this, I'm going to just, I just know I'm not going to sleep well. And I'm going to feel kind of Ugh, when I wake up.

And so I want to order this because freedom for me is that walk on the beach tomorrow. One of the things that I spend a lot of time talking about with members of your Missing Peace is the idea of. Stepping into the power of being the CEO of your own wellbeing. And that includes being the CEO of your relationship with food.

When you are the CEO of your relationship with food, you are not Beed and oppressed by a bunch of rules that you have to follow and a bunch of shoulds and a bunch of things that make you miserable when you are the CEO of your relationship with food and your own wellbeing. You might choose rules. You might choose some structure that is helpful to you, and that is supportive to you.

And that feels good, but you don't have stuff thrown at you. You get to think about what do I want and how will be I best get to that goal. Here's what I want to suggest to. If what you want is a life that feels free a life where you feel peaceful with food, a life where you feel happy and confident and in charge of your wellness and your wellbeing and your own body.

If what you want is freedom from overeating, then I would guess you also want that on vacation. If you like taking vacations and you expect to take vacations and as the CEO. Of your wellbeing. You get to decide which could be a learning journey, but you get to decide what feels peaceful and freeing. What if, if I am a woman, when I am the woman who has peace with food and freedom from overeating, what does vacation eating look like for me?

What do I want? Which is so different from what do I have to. And, this may sound so basic, but I cannot tell you how many incredibly smart, incredibly driven, incredibly successful women who figure out hard things all the time are kind of stumped when they present this vacation dilemma to me. And I say, well, how do you want to eat on vacation so often?

The first answer, the first layer of the answer I get is this idea that, well, I don't know how I want to eat because here's what usually happens. Vacation is freedom. I don't want to be on my diet. Because I've still got diet mentality. I don't want to have to eat salad every day. We're going to Italy, I want to be able to eat the gelato. I want to have the freedom and I don't want to come home and feel like crap, I've gained back the weight that I've lost or I've gained weight, or my pants don't fit. Or I feel discouraged because I lost the things that I was doing that helped me feel really good.

We get out of that dichotomy by starting to ask that first question, what do you want, how do you want to. And if you draw a blank, when you start to think about that question, fine, tune it with my favorite question, which is what do you know about how you want to eat on vacation? What do you know about how you don't want to eat?

These are really powerful starting points, and they put you in the driver's seat. They put you in the decision maker's chair, because there are not rules. You get to decide it is your vacation. so here's the next thing that often comes up when people start to ask themselves, okay, how do I want to eat on vacation?

They say, I don't know. I don't want to have to think about it. I don't want to have to plan in advance B. They say, I can't plan in advance. We're going to be on vacation. I don't know where we're going to be eating. I don't know what the options are going to be. I then, and when we start to feel, I don't know, it's easy to start to feel stressed and overwhelmed, especially if you are somebody who is used to having the answers.

So here's what I want to suggest to you, start by recognizing that false decision point between am I going to be constrained or is everything going to go out the window and ask yourself, okay, what do I want, what do I know about what I want? And if you aren't getting answers and actually, even if you are getting answers, see what do I want?

How do I want to eat on vacation? Gets you focused on the food. There's a place where that can be helpful, but I think there's a much bigger question that could be much more powerful and that might open up some ideas for you instead of asking yourself, how do I want to eat on vacation? Which I know I just suggested, but I also want you to go deeper.

I want you to ask yourself, how do you want to feel? How do you want to feel on your vacation? Maybe you want to feel satisfied. Maybe you want to feel full when you get up from the table, but you don't want to feel so stuff that it impairs your sleep or you're not, you feel kind of sluggish in the morning.

Maybe you want to feel energetic. Maybe you want to feel present with the people that you are vacationing with. Maybe you want to feel relaxed, start spending some time thinking about how you want to feel. on this trip, this adventure that you are taking, and then spend some time thinking about what you are going to make sure you get at least a little bit of on this vacation.

Hopefully a lot of that will help you build those feelings. And I want you to think about things that are not food. Again, I cannot tell you how many conversations I have had with busy, overwhelmed women who are going on vacation, who want to come back from vacation, feeling relaxed. And yet there isn't any time in the vacation that really is about downtime or relaxing or, or just getting grounded.

How do you want to feel on vacation and give yourself permission to think about the pieces of your vacation that have nothing to do with. How do you want to eat on vacation? What do you know about that is a valid question. How do you want to feel after the vacation or as you are leaving the vacation?

When you get on the plane, after the vacation, what are the experiences you want to have had? What are the feelings you want to have? And then here's the final question that I want to invite you to play. Around vacation and eating and peace with food. I want to invite you to ask yourself what the beliefs and thoughts are that you are carrying around, that you are repeating to yourself about vacation eating.

And I want you to imagine yourself kind of setting those beliefs and thoughts out there and taking 10 steps back from them and taking a look at are they helpful to you? Do they feel good to you? Are they serving you and are there some additional beliefs or some alternate beliefs around vacation eating and peace with food that you might want to practice on this vacation?

So here are some examples that a client recently shared with me, her old vacation thought. Had been that when I go on vacation, I get to eat it all. I eat all the things and I eat all of. That is freedom that is vacation. And as she, we had spent some time looking at this right. About what, whether that was really freedom and whether that felt good.

And she also wanted to make really sure that diet mentality didn't creep in and steal her vacation joy. Right. She did not want to set up a bunch of rules that, that were diet rules in disguise. And she said, you know what? I really, that's not true. Like, I don't, it doesn't feel free to eat everything, but what I want to make sure I tell myself is I'm on vacation.

And I'm only going to eat food that is delicious and food that I'm truly enjoying. I'm actually going to get myself freedom to leave the stuff that comes that I don't like on my plate. But I'm also giving myself permission to eat the really good stuff. And I'm also giving myself permission to enjoy it and to savor it and to taste it because she said, the more we talk about this, I start realizing that I tell myself, oh, it's vacation.

I get to eat whatever I want, but I'm kind of doing this numbing out thing and giving myself the quote unquote freedom. To eat, whatever I want by also not thinking too hard about it and kind of zoning out and not being really present and telling myself that's a part of vacation too. She said, what I really want on this vacation, there's going to be some great food.

I want to enjoy it. But that means I want to be mindful. I want to be present while I'm eating. I want to really be tasting it. And when I'm not really enjoying it anymore, I want to. Here's the litmus test that you can use when you start playing with vacation, eating and peace with food. When my client that I'm telling you about came up with the thought that she wanted to focus on eating food that she truly enjoyed and only eating food that she truly enjoyed and not eating the food that she didn't enjoy.

She felt really good about it. Not only did she feel really good about it, she felt kind of excited about it. She said, I am well, she used the word excited. She said, I'm excited to try. This feels good. The difference between being the CEO of your relationship with food versus being stuck in diet mentality is you feel like you chose it, you decide it.

You're trying something out and guess what? If it doesn't work, or if you don't like it, you can decide again, which is so different from the whole diet mentality, belief that you failed. And now you're off track and everything's ruined. Vacation eating becomes peaceful and freeing when you become the CEO.

And one of the key things to do, if you want your vacation, eating to feel peaceful and good and solid and free is to make sure you are not setting yourself up with that false choice of when I go on vacation, will I. Quote, unquote, really good constrained or will I give myself total freedom and all the rules are going out the window because I'm on vacation and everything is fair game.

Right? Freedom from overeating happens when you make the rules. It doesn't happen when you're busy rebelling against them. So can you have peace with food and freedom from overeating and totally enjoy your vacation and not feel deprived? I completely believe that you can. 

You've got this.

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Your Missing Peace is the psychologist-designed program that provides the tools, the support, the coaching, and the confidence to create freedom from emotional eating and overeating. Finally - emotional eating help done right! Your Missing Peace is specifically designed for smart, high-achieving women who are DONE with diets, who want a lasting solution, and who are ready to take their power back from food, from overeating, and the scale. 

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