How to Have Peace with Food on Vacation | TMOHP Episode 093

When it comes to ending patterns of overeating and emotional eating, vacation can be a challenging time. No one wants to feel restricted or deprived on vacation, but it can be discouraging to come back from an incredible trip feeling bloated, and like you lost track of the habits and ways of thinking that were working so well for you. What does it look like to have real peace with food when you’re on vacation? How can you chart a course that isn’t all-or-nothing? And how can you enjoy your trip, not obsess over food, and feel like you honored your personal priorities for creating more peace and freedom with food?

In this episode, I cover:

  • Why your attitude about eating on vacation might reveal helpful information about why your relationship with food isn't optimal in the rest of your life
  • The alternative to eating your way through a vacation that doesn’t feel like deprivation
  • Steps you can take to have peace with food on vacation

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Full episode transcript:

Hey everybody. Welcome back to the podcast. This is a time of year when I get a lot of questions from women who are going on vacation. I get questions about how can I plan my eating on vacation? How can I not stress about food on vacation? Things have been going very well for me, and I don't want to fall off track when I go on vacation. How can I be strong on vacation?

Vacation brings up a lot of thoughts about food and eating. Especially if you are trying to change your eating to stop overeating and emotional eating or to lose some weight. So today I thought it would be helpful to talk about how to have peace with food and how to create more peace with food when you're on vacation.

Before we talk about how you want to eat on vacation. I think it's really important to take a look at how you tend to eat on vacation. Because how you eat on vacation tells you a lot. Or can tell you a lot, or might tell you a lot about why you're spinning in circles with overeating. When it comes to overeating, vacation is something that a lot of women approach very similarly to the holiday season. And spoiler alert, you can apply so much of what I'm going to share with you today to the holidays as well as vacations.

So when it comes to overeating and dealing with vacation, a lot of people see overeating as just inevitable. And vacation is a vacation. It's a reason to hit pause. It's a reason to not have any plans for tackling your overeating. It's kind of like open season.

When I talk to somebody in Your Missing Peace for the first time about going on vacation, I often hear things like, you know, losing weight is on hold. It's just on hold until we get back from vacation. Or, here's a big one, there's just an expectation of, I know I'm probably going to gain some weight while I'm gone. And making these decisions in advance, that losing weight is on hold, or my eating plan is on hold, or I'm probably just going to gain weight while I'm gone, and I'll deal with that when I get back. That's the extent of healthy eating planning that many people do.

Now, I want to be very upfront here because this is not a podcast about deprivation thinking. I mean, I'm going to talk about deprivation thinking in a minute, but I'm not encouraging that. Vacation is vacation. It's an opportunity to escape. That's why we go on vacation. It's a different time in our lives. It's an opportunity to be free from certain demands in our life. To rest, to enjoy a break from the normal day to day and from the normal routines. And the way you approach eating and also overeating when you are on vacation, says a lot about how you think about it in the rest of your life.

Here's a question that I want you to ask because they think it can be very enlightening. Do you need a vacation from your expectations with food? Do you actually need that vacation from whatever it is that you are telling yourself that you need to do with food? Are you somebody who believes that vacation is your chance to indulge vacation? Is your chance to eat freely? Vacation is your chance to eat without guilt or consequence. Is vacation when you get, when you have permission to order anything on the menu plus appetizers. Right? Because you're on vacation.

If this is the mindset that you are in about vacation. It is so worth considering what your expectations are for your eating in the rest of your life. Because when eating with abandon, when eating, whatever, when eating with no restriction, eating all the things, when that feels like freedom, that can be a sign that you are feeling restricted and deprived in your everyday relationship with food. Right? So there's a big difference between achieving freedom from overeating or creating peace with food and struggling to create perfect control. Which by the way, never happens.

And I know you've probably heard me talk about this before. Right? There's a huge difference between freedom and peace. And I'm going to be in control always. Dieting sets you up for deprivation thinking. Dieting sets you up for a mindset that success in the way it's defined. Success is only achieved if you go without. If you stay strong and if you are winning the battle with food. A deprivation approach and a deprivation mindset, which is focusing on what you won't eat, what you'll make yourself do. Or what you'll do without.

These things also set you up with all or nothing expectations. You're either on the plan or you're off the plan. Right? And a mindset, a set of beliefs that you're either doing your eating plan or you're on vacation. It's all or nothing. I am always going to be an advocate for creating freedom from overeating instead of learning how to live with feeling deprived.

The freedom from overeating that I teach women how to create means creating a relationship with food that gets you to your goals, works when you're on vacation, works when you're busy, works when you're feeling super motivated and when you're not and doesn't build up an urge to take a cheat day. Doesn't leave you feeling like, how much longer can I do this or when do I get a break? When do I get a cheat day or a cheat week or a cheat month? Or I don't give myself cheat days, and so then I fall completely off track and I have to start over again.

Freedom from overeating is so different from this. Freedom from overeating is a lifelong state, a state that you achieve when you approach your eating, including your overeating or your emotional eating with an empowered non deprivation based mindset.

This means that instead of fighting with the scale. Right? Or battling with your eating, you learn how to take your power back from food. And from cravings and from your hunger. So that the struggle dissolves so you are not in a fight. When you have peace with food and freedom from overeating, it no longer feels compelling or free to eat your way through vacation.

And that doesn't mean that you don't eat. Doesn't mean you don't enjoy your food. You might indulge, you might have some extra treats. There might be some amazing things that you want to have cuz you're on vacation. But your day-to-day relationship with food isn't something you want to take a vacation from.

It's not something that you want to be free of. Your day-to-day relationship with food is already peaceful and free and it works for you. I have some practical tips about how to have peace with food on vacation that I'm going to share with you in a moment. And this is so important because that deprivation mindset, the all or nothing, the, oh my gosh, I'm on vacation now I get to eat all the things. It sets you up for the hamster wheel.

You start. You work really hard. You feel deprived. You run out of steam. You fall off track. You go on vacation. You eat all the things. Right? Or you just fall off track and then you feel guilt and you feel self-blame. Or you feel overwhelmed by starting over again. And maybe there's overeating that goes with that. And then maybe you work up the motivation to start over again. And again because it is a hamster wheel.

Okay, so let's get practical. One of the questions that I always ask Missing Peace members when they're getting ready to go on vacation is, how do you want to feel on the plane? On the drive back home, how do you want to feel after the vacation has ended? And there isn't a right answer of course. But I will tell you when people stop and think about this, they often say, that's a really good question.

And then I often hear things like, I want to feel relaxed. I want to feel satisfied. I want to feel like I had a week full of fun like I was present. I want to feel light and energized and happy. I want to feel rested. And then almost always people think about how they want to feel and they, they want to bring that back. I want to bring some of that back to my life when I come back.

A deprivation mindset and an all or nothing approach with food and overeating and emotional eating. These things don't set you up to bring anything home with you in terms of nourishment. Except maybe feeling bloated and tired and behind and like you need to start over again now that the vacation is over.

And I want to jump in here before your brain does what your brain is highly likely to do. There is another reason that going all out on eating all the things when you go on vacation might sound so tempting. Because the deprivation mindset, the deprivation way of thinking dictates that the alternative to vacation over indulgence. Vacation, you know, free eating is deprivation. You're either on the plan or off the plan. You're either depriving yourself or you're overeating.

This never ending flip flop, all or nothing back and forth. That's what makes emotional eating and overeating struggles feel like such a frustrating hamster wheel. Even on vacation. If you want to move beyond all this stuff on your next vacation. Then the real secret is to move outside of the deprivation mindset and really start playing with transforming the way you think about food in the first place, not just on vacation.

So I know that this might sound a bit vague, non-specific, heady, up in the clouds. And it might even sound 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, it does not have to be complicated. Don't let your brain fool you about this.

Here are some ideas about how to have peace with food or more peace with food on vacation. And remember, your brain is probably going to deprivation thinking, okay, if I'm going to think about eating on vacation, it's going to be deprivation. That's not what this is about.

All right, so the easiest approach. It starts with making some decisions in advance before you go on vacation, because that puts you in the driver's seat. It allows you to feel empowered instead of feeling like you're at the mercy of what's going on or reacting to things and all the unexpected events that happen when you're away from your daily routines. So again, I'm not talking about making decisions about deprivation. I'm not talking about making decisions about calories or carbs or tracking.

Go back to that question I mentioned earlier. How do you want to feel at the end of your vacation? How do you want to feel? And then ask yourself if feeling that way, that feeling that I want to have at the end of my vacation. If that was my only goal, it probably isn't, but that's okay. If that was my only goal, how would I eat?

I have no idea how you answered the question about how you want to feel when you get back from vacation. But I know for me and for my clients, taking this perspective can really both shift things and create some clarity. So maybe you want to eat in a way that contributes to good sleep. You want to feel rested when you get back from vacation.

Or maybe you want to feel light and energized in the afternoons. You want to enjoy your afternoons when you're on vacation. You don't want to go into a food coma. So how do you want to eat to achieve that thing? Maybe something that is so important to you about vacation is you, you want to savor the incredible tropical fruit.

Maybe you're going somewhere where you cannot get mangoes like this anywhere else. Right? Or there might be a special restaurant or special foods that you're really excited about. But you also don't want to come home feeling bloated and weighed down by a bunch of tortilla chips that you ate mindlessly with the margaritas.

So part of this planning can be asking yourself what are the choices that you want to make with food so that you can feel the way that you want to feel. And reminder to your brain that wants to go into deprivation thinking. This includes considering the things that you absolutely do want to indulge in. And also thinking about what it's going to take to make sure that you savor these things and you fully enjoy them.

I will tell you that so many women I talk to who don't do this kind of planning. Who go on vacation in the all or nothing food is a free for all, you know, mentality. I'm going to eat all the things cuz I'm on vacation. They also discover when they step back and look at this or do some coaching inside Your Missing Peace. So much of the time they discovered that on the one hand they were saying, I get to eat all the things cuz I'm on vacation. And on the other hand they were feeling guilty. Or they were kind of numbing themselves out because they didn't want to feel guilty.

And guess what? So much of the eating was mindless. So much of the eating wasn't even food that they tasted. That they savored and that they enjoyed. So how do you want to eat, and also how do you want to make sure that you get the pleasure and the enjoyment and the presence that is important to you?

Here's another thing to consider around having more peace with food on vacation, because vacation is a rest. It is different and it is often unstructured. And so another piece of planning in advance that can be helpful is to ask yourself with from a place of curiosity, not deprivation, are there policies that you want to set in advance that would be helpful to you feeling the way that you want to feel on vacation and after vacation?

And by the way, feeling the way you want to feel may be, I don't want to feel deprived. But it also may be I don't want to feel bloated. Or I don't want to feel like I just have to go back to the room and take a nap because I ate so much cuz I just was not paying attention. Right. So are there policies that you want to set in advance that could be helpful to you?

Examples that have worked for women I've worked with in the past have been, I'm not going to mindlessly eat chips. Or I'm not going to eat food that I don't really enjoy just because it's vacation food. Just because there are going to be chips on the table. I don't even really like the chips. I'm going to save my hunger for things I really enjoy.

Or I'm going to have a two drink maximum. I want to feel refreshed in the morning. I don't want to sleep poorly. Right? So I'm going to have a two drink maximum. Play around with policies that you set in advance that feel good, that help you feel powerful and not deprived.

Another question that can be so useful on vacation is what will help you stay in touch with your plan?

You're going to put together a plan to support your vacation with a peaceful way of eating. Right? You want to achieve the goal of feeling the way that you want to feel when you get home. So this is the way of eating that I'd like to play with. That, I think will help me feel more of that. So what's going to help you stay in touch with your plan?

Do you need to take a daily walk by yourself? Do you need a reminder that you said on your phone? Do you need to focus on drinking more water? Because when you do that, other things fall into place. Or you need to move your body a little bit every morning. Maybe that's what that walk is about. Or maybe what you really wanted was to enjoy those amazing mangoes.

And part of what you need to do is tell somebody that, you know what? This is my priority on this trip. I want to make sure we stop and we get the mangoes and we have them in the condo. Voicing your needs might be what you need to stay in touch with your plan.

Before I wind this up, I have one last question that I think can be useful to ask when you are going on vacation. And that is, and again, in the spirit of it's not all or nothing. And yes, vacation is discreet from not being on vacation, but maybe what you're creating in terms of the peace with food and the things you're experimenting with on your vacation could also be useful to you when you get home.

So challenge yourself. Ask yourself, is there anything that you might do to extend your peaceful eating from vacation into the first 24 or 48 hours that you are back home? Is there anything about eating to feel rested or energized or more vital or more calm? That you might like to bring into your everyday life. This is a question that you can ask before you go on vacation.

This is a question that you might want to play with while you're on vacation. What are you enjoying about the way that you are approaching food? How can you bring that back with you? How could you create some of that vacation feeling with food in a way that works for you in your everyday life?

I really love this question because eating is an everyday thing. Eating is also, or potentially also incredibly enjoyable. Right? Eating we have the potential when we're eating to use every single one of our senses. It can be joyful. It can be delicious, especially when we are present enough to enjoy it. Right? Life is too short to feel like we need to take a vacation from the way that we eat.

You can change this. And you don't have to wait till you get back from vacation to get started.

Go play with these ideas and if they were helpful to you, would you take a moment to leave a rating or a review wherever it is that you get your podcasts. That's really helpful to us and it lets me know that I'm being helpful to you.

So go play with these ideas.

Have a great vacation. And I'll talk to you soon.


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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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