Vacation eating vs. non-vacation eating.
This week we’re out of town and it’s reminded me how good it feels for my eating patterns to never have to change. Whether I’m on vacation or in a normal workday, my days include:
- all foods
- 3 meals & as many snacks as needed
- awareness of hunger, fullness & cravings cues
- acknowledgment of when I need food for emotional reasons and if that’s the best option to care for myself (sometimes it is!)
I remember vacations in the past that felt like a giant cheat day spread out over the entire vacation. When the vacation ended I was uncomfortably stuffed and there was this gloom of having to go back to restricting or eliminating certain foods.
One thing I hated about being in my eating disorder (that I couldn’t see when I was in it, but can see now that I’m out of it) was how I can still remember exactly what I ate on vacations and how I felt (i.e. bad) about eating it. I remember meals eaten more than I remember time spent with family or adventures we went on. And that useless meal information from 8 years in an ED is still stored in my brain. While I couldn’t tell you the food we ate on a vacation a year ago, I could still tell you the food I ate on a vacation 6 years ago when living in my ED. My brain was so fixated on food and my exercise routine that I remember pretty much nothing else from those trips.
These days whether I’m on vacation or not, I eat whatever I want, but it’s not eaten in this chaotic, food-is-about-to-be-taken-away-so-eat-everything-now kind of way. I just feed myself regularly. If there ever is a time I feel myself overthinking if I should go eat a certain thing, I just go eat it. Sometimes figuring out how to take care of yourself is hard. I like to remember that I have options for how I’d like to care for myself and sometimes if I’m feeling like I’m stuck in a season where I feel myself relying on food more than usual (i.e. when Jo was first born and I had no clue how to take care of myself anymore or when we’ve been living in an AirBnb for over a month and everything just feel unsettled) I like to write out the options I have to care for myself on paper so I can be making the choice that helps me the best.
To wrap up, vacations I go on now I remember food less and less. I remember especially excellent meals and desserts, but food doesn’t overpower my thoughts and memories from trips. I’m grateful for all the work I’ve put into becoming a competent eater. I’d be sad to still be missing out on so much.
p.s. eating on vacations can be hard if you are surrounded by friends or family that skip meals/snacks or eliminate food groups. This doesn’t mean you have to stop taking care of yourself (i.e. stop eating regularly) if surrounded by others who don’t eat similar to you. However, you may need to speak up for yourself to make sure your needs are getting met, which I know can be tough for those who have personalities or genetic predispositions that make you more inclined to have an eating disorder or disordered eating.