Hello from Mallorca!! Or, more accurately, hello from LaGuardia airport en route to Mallorca! While I'm enjoying a relaxing vacation with my aunt on an island in the Mediterranean (it's okay, I'm jealous of me too), I've got a few guest posts scheduled for you over the next couple weeks. Young people are the future, and that is super evident in the field of dietetics, where there's a huge wave of new RDs that are fully committed to Health at Every Size and Intuitive Eating. That's why I wanted to highlight their work with a series of guest posts while I'm gone.
First up is my absolutely lovely intern, Lauren Newman. Y'all, I am SO incredibly proud of her and the work she does. We joke that I'm her RD mom, but seriously, I do feel like a proud mamma bear. She has done so many brave things to advance understanding of HAES and weight stigma among her peers - her internship director even asked her to fill in for a lecture for her and teach HAES to nutrition students! Lauren is wrapping up her internship at The University of Texas and will be an RD at the end of the summer. Her goal is to use Intuitive Eating to help people diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and disordered eating. Her instagram is one of my favorite to follow, so you should go check her out at @gofeedyourself_! She'll be posting a few times over the next two weeks, but for her first post, I thought it would be perfect to share her thoughts on eating intuitively when you're traveling.
I get really anxious before traveling. It’s not because I fear forgetting my passport or I’m scared of flying or worry about language barriers or anything semi rational. Nope, I get nervous before traveling because of the food. Because breaking my normal routine and schedule is overwhelming and trusting my body and intuition in a new environment is scary, even after years of practicing intuitive eating.
At times, practicing Intuitive eating while traveling seems like the most impossible task. There are new foods you want to try; sometimes they’re amazing so you eat past fullness, sometimes they’re gross so you hardly eat at all. Sometimes you have to eat when you’re not hungry yet because you’re going somewhere without food, and sometimes you’re starving but have to wait because you’re in a museum & food isn’t allowed. Sometimes you can’t pick the restaurant or time of the meal because you’re with other people. Sometimes you’re in a different time zone and your body is confused AF. Sometimes the menu is in a different language and you have no idea what something is or you’re worried your allergies were lost in translation (ok, maybe I am also anxious about language barriers after all!) However after a few years of trial and error, there are a few things I’ve learned to be helpful and keep me grounded in my intuition around food while traveling.
Remember that intuitive eating is NOT the hunger/fullness diet!
Obviously it’s most comfortable for your body to eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full, and it can be an awesome act of self care to respect those boundaries. But there are situations in which that isn’t and shouldn’t be the barometer for success. Maybe you were so engaged in what you were doing and now all of a sudden you’re way lower than comfortable on that hunger/fullness scale. Or maybe you’re eating something truly incredible and eat way past fullness. Both might be temporarily uncomfortable, but hyper focusing on keeping yourself between that hunger/fullness range would have caused you to miss out on those experiences.
Satisfaction is key
Walking away from a meal or snack feeling satisfied is a critical component of intuitive eating. You have permission to eat what sounds good, regardless of what it is. You always have this permission, but it can be especially fun to take advantage of it while on vacation or visiting someplace new! Satisfaction while traveling also brings up some gentle nutrition reminders to help keep yourself full between meals and avoid getting hangry and having a mini meltdown in the middle of the Louvre. Those nutella crepes sounded amaze for breakfast, but adding some fruit (fiber) or some eggs (protein) would have kept me more satisfied and full and avoided that semi embarrassing situation.
I’m not talking about packing your whole kitchen or traveling with trendy superfoods and “clean/healthy” snacks to avoid eating something “bad” while away like sometimes seen on social media… I mean, throw a few granola bars or protein bars or bag of nuts in your bag because flights always get delayed, you get hungry between meals and no one else is, or you order something that turns out to be gross at dinner one night and come back hungry and need a snack before bed (and mini bar food is $$$$$)… Literally all things that have happened to me in the past week. Keeping snacks around is the best way to honor your hunger!
There’s no need to compensate
You can trust your body. Seriously. Your body knows how to handle some extra travel food and sedentary days. There’s no need to alter your eating or movement routines before or after traveling regardless of what you did or did not eat. The best self care you can give yourself is returning to your normal routine and appreciating the experience you had while traveling.
Clearly IE while traveling takes some extra effort, thought, and awareness but it’s not impossible!
You might also like: