How to Eat Intuitively on Vacation
It’s my birthday (wahoo!) and Marco and I are headed to Reno, Nevada this morning to celebrate! We went several weeks back when we visited Tahoe for a friends wedding and we’re not quite finished exploring. We’ll be taking care of that this weekend, though! Anyone from Reno? Let me know!
While we were traveling this month I received several requests to talk about eating intuitively while on vacation (what I’ll be doing this weekend too – hangout on Insta with me @paigeschmidt!). Many of you mentioned how tough it feels to eat in a way that leaves you feeling good on vacation while ALSO enjoying yourselves. I totally get it and have been in that space too, so I’m excited for this post! I hope it helps you.
The beautiful thing about intuitive eating, is that you can take it with you everywhere you go.
Vacation is a great time to unplug and relax. It’s also a great time to slow down from the normal day to day tasks of life and ask yourself what you’re craving (with both food and non-food sources of nourishment alike).
- Do you want to cook? Do you want to eat out?
- Do you feel like something cool and refreshing? Hot and comforting?
- Do you want to try a new spot? What sounds good?
- Have you been craving a specific food? What’s the best place in town, Yelp?
- Do you need a break from social media? Are you craving to share your fun with others on social media? How do you feel?
- Do you want to sleep in? Do you want to set an alarm and have a full day?
- Do you feel like making plans? Deciding as you go?
- Do you feel like moving around and exploring? Relaxing and kicking back?
If I had ONE tip to leave you with from this post it would be to practice checking in with yourself and what you want MORE often.
I find that when Marco and I are on vacation, we eat out a lot. This is fun because when you’re eating out, there’s a world of options to choose from. You can check-in, ask what you’re craving, and pretty easily honor those cravings.
On our three week trip to Colorado, we ate out while we were on the road, traveling from one city to the next. When we’d settle down in one spot for a few nights, we’d cook food at the campground. On the nights we ate at the camper, we’d eat together family style. There were about 15 people with us and we’d all eat the same thing. Two couples would cook each night – it was great!
The way I embraced this family style eating was to have a “go with the flow” mentality. I knew that’s what would make me feel the best and allow me to feel most present.
What “going with the flow” looked like for me: Someone would choose the dinner that was being made and I’d eat that dinner in a way that felt good for my body. For example, one night we had shredded carnitas. We could make tacos, bowls, or small burritos with the meat and toppings that were set out.
I chose to make a taco in a flour tortilla to start with (these were larger than your average sized tacos). After I ate one I sat for a bit and decided that I still wanted another. I got up and got another. I stopped a few bites short of finishing that second taco because I felt myself getting full. I knew I wanted to feel present and have fun the rest of the night, enjoying the fire with my family. If I was stuffed full, I knew I wouldn’t enjoy the rest of the evening. Rather, I’d be complaining of how “full I felt.”
When dessert was passed around I let it go right by. Why? Because I know and trust that I can have dessert anytime I want it. So, I was safe to wait for another opportunity for dessert where I had room for it and it would actually taste good.
Following this way of eating (really listening to what feels good for your body in the moment) doesn’t mean that there won’t be times where you over do it and eat too much. There definitely are those times for me too!
Intuitive eating is not about being 100% and that’s a great thing.
Those times when we over do it aren’t for guilt, beating ourselves up, or resorting back to diets because they’re familiar. These times are for recognizing without judgement and with pure curiosity what experience we were going for in continuing to eat past our fullness (maybe it was just really good and we thought we’d enjoy continuing, more than stopping), and what experience we actually got from doing so (feeling way too stuffed and uncomfortable in our bodies). Again, zero judgement, zero guilt. Just learning.
I always say to my clients “guilt never helps.” If we’re feeling guilty about how we ate, we have full permission to toss that guilt out the window because all it does is cause us to stay stuck. When we feel bad, we’re more likely to continue making choices that feel bad. Likewise, when we feel good we’re more likely to make choices that feel good. We need to turn that feeling around as quickly as we can, saying to and asking ourselves, “Okay, it’s okay that you don’t feel 100% right now. However, what can you do to feel just 1% better? How can you make your very next choice one that feels good?” THIS is the turnaround statement.
All said, to eat intuitively on vacation, be gentle with yourself. Let go of needing to making perfect choices. Enjoy yourself, and continue to simply TUNE-IN to what would make you happy.
Instead of worrying about eating out of your regular routine at home, appreciate things like: getting to try new foods/places; not having to cook at all or as much; the fact that someone else is serving you; that you get to enjoy your family; you get to enjoy down time; etc…
My friend Simi wrote a great blog post this week about what “health” means to her. She mentioned that she asks herself “will this help me to show up more fully in my life or less fully in my life?” when she’s making a health decision. I LOVE this approach. Because that’s really what health is about, right? Making sure that the life we’re living is healthy, and full, and vibrant with adventure and fulfillment (even though the regular day to day feels are normal, too!).
When unexpected or spontaneous events come up (like, you think you’re cooking one thing and then all of the sudden everyone wants to go out to eat), EMBRACE them.
It’s not worth the stress to freak out about what you’ll eat when unexpected or unplanned events come up. Trust that your body will cue you throughout your day and throughout each meal and tell you what you need. Trust that you’ll be aware enough (this is a mindset you can intentionally practice) to respond to those cues gently. Keep a calm mindset and remember, if you respond in a way other than what your body has requested (whether on accident or on purpose), that’s okay! We all do it and there’s no need to feel bad.
Intuitive eating is NOT about leaving behind the rules of dieting and adapting new rules around intuitive eating; intuitive eating is about learning to eat in a way that feels good for YOU apart from rules.
The final things I’ll share about eating on vacation are that the grocery stores and markets available to you will likely be different than what you have at home. Go with it. Don’t stress over having the same ingredients/brands you’re used to at home. Do the best you can with what you have and let the rest go. If you have a few staples you LOVE having, bring them with you from home, if you can. Otherwise, try your best to relax about it – it’s worth the peace of mind this will give you.
What would freedom with food on vacation look like for you?
I’d encourage you to sit for 2-3 minutes and picture it. Get a solid FEELING of what that pleasant, food-worry-free vacation would be like. If you were not so focused on food, what would that clear space for you to focus on? Imagine freedom around food. Imagine not counting calories, not checking labels, and not setting up unrealistic expectations before you go. Rather, you allow yourself to go on your trip, worry free. You allow your body to decide what feels best as you go through each day.
Imagine listening to the cue’s your body sends you (and will continue to send you) and being able to calmly and joyfully respond to those cue’s. Imagine having the freedom to enjoy all of your favorite foods in a way that leaves your body feeling good and satisfied.
What does that feel like? What would you need to know were true in order to experience this vision? What might you have to let go of?
Do you have any questions? I could write 10 posts on listening to your body while on vacation, so if you do have a question, post it below! I’d love to continue this conversation with you.
Alrighty, I’m off to enjoy my birthday! Come hangout on Instagram if you’d like @paigeschmidt!