Vacation! We wait for it all year long. As the day approaches, we put a lot of effort into preparing for our time away. From travel arrangements to shopping for a new outfit, much of the joy of travel is found in the excited anticipation. For many, getting “ready” for vacation involves some weight loss effort. Oftentimes dieting beforehand and then overindulgence while away.
There is a way to approach both the preparation and the travel in such a way that leaves us healthier and happier than before. After all, don’t you want to have a healthy vacation! Contentment before, during, and after- that sounds like a recipe for a really enjoyable getaway!
As I discussed in the post, Outsmart Weightloss Deadlines, one of the biggest temptations when planning a trip is the “I have to lose weight” panic mode. While we may have desired to lose a few extra pounds the months prior, the looming plans of a getaway crank up the urgent need to lose weight. This panic can cause us to resort to some pretty extreme behavior. Drastic diets, quick fixes, supplements, and body wraps. Nothing is off-limits when we are on the vacation countdown.
The problem with extreme diets is that they tend to be very restrictive and that deprivation doesn’t go away unanswered. The restriction-rebound will find us on a cruise surrounded by unlimited sweets or on the road hitting up fast food joints near our latest exit. Not a very nice setup, is it?
HOW TO MANAGE THE DESIRE FOR WEIGHT LOSS
If booking your airfare has you Googling diets, what’s a girl to do? Below I will present two options for you to ponder. Just remember to keep your priorities in mind. What route will allow you to glorify God most?
1 Corinthians 10:31 NKJV Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
1. CHOOSE A “DIET” or
If you are bound and determined to go on a diet, make sure to choose a healthy eating plan that feels 100% doable to you. Should you choose to limit your food choices for a period of time, do so with the full realization that this is, in fact, your choice. One of the biggest issues with diets is that we can look at them as outside boundaries- rules. Rather than taking ownership of our choices, we feel as if we “can’t”, “shouldn’t” or “have to eat” certain foods.
This takes the responsibility out of our realm of control and can cause us to feel as if we are “off” or “on” our diets. Not good. Here is where we find all-or-nothing thinking that can cause one cookie to turn into an entire box. The outcome of one slip changes drastically when we are focused on rules vs. our desired outcome.
If you choose to do a diet, choose wisely and remain thoughtful.
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2. CHOOSE A LIFESTYLE
The second way to approach the desire to lose weight is to broaden your goals. Yes, you want to feel great on vacation but is how awesome you feel based solely on what the scale says when you embark on your adventure? Even if your initial reaction is “yes” take a moment to really think about it…
How do you want to feel mentally and physically? Is it possible that you could reach your weight loss goals and still be an unhappy camper? From personal experience, I will testify- yes.
So, while you will probably want to continue to eat well and exercise before you set sail, consider what other personal characteristics you could polish that would make your family vacation even a little more awesome.
A MENTAL GAME PLAN FOR YOUR VACA
What do you picture when you imagine yourself on holiday? If you notice pervasive food thoughts coming to mind, it will benefit you to work on reframing your time away. Embrace what vacation is all about- family, rejuvenation, and fun. Food DOES fit into that equation but at some point, it can detract from the overall enjoyment.
If we allow ourselves to overeat and feel uncomfortable, food isn’t a joy. When we obsess over the buffet, food is not enhancing our enjoyment. If we get home and mourn our eating while away, that’s the opposite of fun.
Rather, envision how you want your vacation to be… How do you want to eat? What do you imagine your ideal family meal time to look like? How do you want to feel your first day back to the “real world”?
Take a moment, think it through, and paint the actual picture that you WANT to meditate on.
HOW TO EAT ON A HEALTHY VACATION
While this post is about eating healthy on vacation, it is NOT about eating bland diet food. You do not have to crunch on a salad while everyone else is enjoying authentic local cuisine. That would be awful! However, we do want to be mindful. If you want to honor your goals and feel good when you return home, you’ll want to think ahead.
1.BALANCE YOUR MEALS
When looking over the menu, try your best to find some balance in your meals. This means avoid meals that are ALL one type of food. For example, all fried food, all carb-based, all sweet eats, etc. Balance looks like some protein, some starch, some veggies, and some fat. Now there is no need to measure, just try to have a little bit of everything on your plate.
2. CHOOSE ONLY THE BEST
Don’t settle for less-than-awesome. No, not every meal is going to be a home run but when choosing the richer, less “healthy” foods, make sure they are worth eating. One way to apply this is to rate the food on a scale of 1-10 and choose to only eat treats that are an 8 or above. This way you are not depriving yourself AT ALL because you are only leaving the sub par behind.
3. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY’S CUES
Ah, your trusty hunger and fullness signals. Regardless of what foods you choose to eat, your body’s cues are excellent resources to draw upon. While meal schedules will often be unpredictable, do your best to try to be hungry before you eat and stop while you are still comfortable. Yes, I know the food is amazing but there is some pretty incredible food in your home town too!
Proverbs 27:7 NLT A person who is full refuses honey, but even bitter food tastes sweet to the hungry.
4. EAT YOUR MEALS MINDFULLY
The easiest “cheat” for eating a proper portion at meals is to simply pay attention! Yes, eating slowly, savoring your food, truly enjoying it to it’s fullest leads to the greatest mental satisfaction possible. If you eat while distracted you may get to the last bite on your plate and realize you didn’t taste the tastiness at all. What a bummer! While the conversation may be bustling, when chewing, pull a bit of your attention away to really taste the food. You know how quiet a hungry table gets when the food arrives. Those first bites are ah-mazing!
5. AVOID MINDLESS SNACKING
Meals on vacation tend to be heavier than our homemade fare. This is a great time to focus on simply eating 3 meals a day. Snacking will throw off your hunger and fullness and often be unnecessary when meals are heartier than what you would typically eat. Of course, if you get hungry between meals it’s ok to eat! If you have more than an hour or two before your next meal, choose something small that will still allow you to feel good-and-hungry for your next meal.
HOW TO APPLY
Now, I have thrown a lot at you, so please don’t get overwhelmed! If it all feels like too much, pick an idea you like and practice it for a week. Be it a mental habit like the way you frame your healthy vacation eating or a more concrete habit you can practice like eating slowly, try it on for size and get yourself ready to set sail!
Vacation is about treating ourselves well. Food and exercise, before, during, and after can support those efforts. When we focus on enjoying the true reasons we are on vacation, making healthy choices comes into perspective. Rather than fostering urgency to lose weight, why not cultivate the skills you can use for a healthy vacation now and when you return home!
Read part 2 of this series: How to Have Healthy Vacation: Tips & Tools!