With travel restrictions easing around the world and the summer weeks ahead, many people are starting to take long-awaited trips – whether it be to visit family and friends, explore new parts of the world or simply venture beyond your town for an afternoon. Traveling can be exciting, eye-opening, joyous and adventurous. It can also be terrifying if you live with food rules.
A restrictive mindset around food is contradictory to the flexibility and curiosity that makes traveling FUN. It’s the voice that tells you not to the croissant while you’re in Paris because carbs are “bad.” It’s the voice that tells you an ice cream on the boardwalk is “wasted calories.” It’s the voice that tells you to feel guilty for eating the funnel cake at the fair.
If you struggle with having food rules and find travel exhausting, I see you and I’m so sorry for how draining that must feel. Also, if you’re working toward recovery from an eating disorder, travel can feel particularly distressing because of the break in routine it forces. Chances are you won’t be able to have that same [oatmeal, fruit cup, insert any calculated breakfast here] that you typically reach for each morning – and that can feel disorienting. But, what if we can accept that this is difficult but also see it as a challenge worth facing? Life isn’t meant to predictable – so traveling is a good opportunity to introduce a bit of challenge and test your own adaptability and flexibility in the face of difficulty.
As hard as it can feel to imagine, what would look like if you left those rules behind? Didn’t give them space in your mental suitcase for this trip? If rather than being worried about your waist size, you could gain an appreciation for a culture through its local cuisine. If rather than keeping your mind focused on navigating a “land mine” of “good” and “bad” foods, you were present for new experiences.
When the food rules are left behind, you open up the door for so much more life.
If you’re looking to explore potential food rules you may hold on to, and how they show up in traveling, the following journal prompts may help.
- What food rules do I create when traveling (e.g. breakfast only at a certain time, limiting snacks, compensatory behavior)? Why is this the case?
- How does having food rules impact my experience while traveling?
- Pick one food rule. You don’t need to tackle them all at once. What is a barrier I currently have to challenging this rule? What is one step I can take to challenge it today?
Memories from traveling aren’t made with your face buried in MyFitnessPal logging that apple – they’re in the chocolate croissant overlooking the view or the ice cream cone soaking in the sun. Don’t discount the little moments and victories, as they become the big ones.
Looking to break free of food rules and embrace the big world around you? Schedule a consultation with a therapist in our practice by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
By: Maddy Weingast, Assistant for Wildflower Therapy LLC