Vacay Eating Mode
Ahhhh vacation, that magical period of time where eating 5,482 calories per day doesn’t have an effect on our bodies, eating five servings of ice cream before dinner is acceptable, and bottomless mimosas somehow hydrate just as well as H2O…..NOT!
I wish the above was true. It would make binging on junk food while traveling that much more satisfying. Unfortunately, I’ve tried this approach to eating while on vacation, and guess what? It doesn’t work! (Click here to check out Part 1 of How to Gain 20 pounds in Thailand!)
What is “vacay eating mode”?
Vacay eating mode:
To eat with reckless abandon while traveling. A mode where calories don’t count, and the quality of food consumed does not matter.
ex: Yesterday, while touring around Paris I fell into vacay eating mode. For breakfast I ate four different types of pastries, had a few bloody marys, then finished with some french toast and an omelette.
We’ll often find ourselves slipping into vacay eating mode while on vacation or traveling for work…hence the name. However, don’t be fooled. We can easily find ourselves entering vacay eating mode in social situations such as holiday parties, family get togethers, special events such as bachelorette parties, and any other situation that’s out of the norm with a variety of food and drinks available.
Why vacay eating mode?
There are so many reasons why we fall into the vacay eating mode trap while traveling. I have narrowed it down to five main reasons – each having a psychological, emotional, and/or physical component.
Food FOMO: Food FOMO, or fear of missing out, is a huge contributor to vacay eating mode. While we’re traveling we become afraid that we’ll never get to try this magical food again. This can especially be true if the area we’re visiting is famous for a particular food, or a food item has been featured on one of the many food channel shows. When this happens, we eat as much of the food item(s) as possible in order to not miss out and remember the taste, whether we’re hungry or not.
Food Restriction: In our day to day lives it’s easy to restrict our calorie intake in addition to the food we eat. We view foods such as ice cream, burgers, pasta, and chips as the enemy even if we are secretly (or not secretly) wishing we could eat these foods. When we go on vacation all of a sudden these foods become acceptable for x number of days. Therefore, we feel the need to eat as many of these food items as possible before heading back to our everyday restricted diet.
Special Occasion Eating: Special occasion eating gives us a reason to indulge in treats we normally don’t eat on a daily basis. This special occasion can be a wedding reception, taking clients out on the town, your first night in Thailand, a convention, or any other situation out of the norm.
Last Chance Eating: We find ourselves in the last chance eating situation primarily when we travel to places we have never been before, and don’t anticipate visiting again. In this situation we feel the need to eat everything that is native to that location because it may be our only chance to eat that food item. This can lead to over eating, and making many poor choices.
Delicious Food: We’ve all been in this situation before – the kind of situation where the dish you’re eating is so good you just can’t seem to stop eating…until it’s gone. This applies to more than just traveling, but is amplified while traveling due to the reasons above. There’s also a sense that food just tastes that much better while traveling, even if it doesn’t. We’re in a new place, excited to be there, we get on this travel high, and all of a sudden we could care less about how much/what is being consumed.
No matter what we think, we don’t have to fall victim to vacay eating mode. With a few tools we can take control of our eating habits while on vacation. We can make smart food choices while still enjoying ourselves!
- If you struggle with food FOMO then try figuring out which food items are most important to you and stick to it. If you find yourself still wanting to eat everything in sight then share with your traveling companions. You’ll be able to sample the foods you’re dying to try while not going overboard.
- We can work towards overcoming our obsession with restricted foods by allowing ourselves to have these foods in reasonable quantities on a regular basis. For example, if your thing is ice cream, then allow yourself a scoop a few times per week rather than taking an all or nothing approach. This will help reduce the obsession with restricted foods since they’re no longer restricted, and will keep you from gorging on them.
- Special occasion eating can get the best of anyone. By allowing ourselves small portions of treats on a regular basis we’re removing the mystique associated with these treats. In addition, we’re creating good habits that will help keep us strong during special occasions. So instead of feeling the need to sample every dessert at the buffet in Vegas, we can feel happy choosing just one, or sampling a few.
- Last chance eating can be a tricky situation to navigate. It’s the last time we’ll get to eat a food item, so why not go crazy? YOLO. We can navigate this situation by once again figuring out which food items are most important to us, and sharing food with others. If the food item isn’t perishable we can also bring it home with us to try on a later date. Remember that there’s always a chance that you’ll go back to this location, a friend will travel there and bring you something home, and if neither happen life will go on if you didn’t get to try something.
- We run into delicious food everywhere. At home, while traveling, and at parties. It can be hard to stop eating in these situations even once we’re full. To help with portion control only take what you need. If you’re at a buffet or party, take a reasonable portion of food and stick to it. If you’re at a restaurant, share a dish or ask for a to-go box before you start eating. Put half of your entree in the box for later…out of sight, out of mind. Lastly, monitor how much you’re enjoying that food. Usually you’ll notice that the enjoyment factor of a dish declines over time. If you’re no longer enjoying something then save the rest for later.
Eating while on vacation does not need to turn into an all or nothing approach. By removing the mystique around forbidden foods, sharing food items with our traveling companions, exercising portion control, and not allowing food to own us, we can take control of our eating situation and reduce the feelings of guilt, bloat, and tight pants when we return home.
Until next time,
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