Travel & Intuitive Eating

travel & intuitive eating

One of the most common concerns I hear is: How do I eat intuitively while traveling? While intuitive eating is the one plan that will work any place, any time, and for any one it can still seem daunting to eat while traveling for work or on vacation if your normal staples aren’t available. This belief is rooted deep in diet culture and if you’re new to intuitive eating this can be a hard to work through. Travel removes us from our normal routine and having that routine altered can leave you feeling unsure of your food choices. Even for the experienced, a long vacation will throw a wrench in your routine, but that’s exactly what a vacation is for right? It’s a break from the norm, it’s an opportunity to hit the reset button, and if your practicing intuitive eating it shouldn’t leave you feeling unhinged around food.

Here’s how I practice intuitive eating while traveling.

Intuitive eating isn’t a diet.

Can we scream this one from the rooftops?!?! Please! When you’re not on a regimented diet you and your body control what and when you eat. This means that intuitive eating works anywhere you are. Now I’m we’ll aware of the all or nothing mentality diet culture has instilled in us. It looks something like a super restrictive diet before traveling and a binge that occurs after. You believe you worked so hard to restrict before the trip and you earned the right to go crazy the second your feet hit the airport. Been there done that, more than once.

As a recovered calorie counter and extreme dieter I know first hand how diet mentality works, and I’m also here to tell you, you can let that go!

Say it with me. Bye diets! Bye! You don’t need to restrict before so why would you need to go crazy while on the go. Let’s be real, overdoing it on your trip leaves you feeling guilty, unfulfilled, unrefreshed, and disappointed that you ate and drank past the point of comfort. Vacations should be relaxing, and this includes how you deal with food. You deserve to come back feeling refreshed and relaxed. When you see intuitive eating as a diet you stop listening to your hunger and fullness and end up making choices based on an all or nothing diet mentality. Remember, intuitive eating is something we just do, no matter where we are.

Enjoy local foods.

When we travel we are exposed to new restaurants and foods. It’s ok to enjoy them. I hear from so many people who travel frequently that they feel off the rails around new food in new places. The scarcity factor comes into play and that all or nothing diet mentality creeps in. It’s not the food that’s the problem it’s the all or nothing diet mentality. Believing that you only have one shot, one opportunity (cue Eminem, sorry I just couldn’t help myself) to taste and enjoy new foods can lead you into the scarcity mindset which is diet mentality. What if you just took in every second without worry about when you've got to get back on a plane or hop in the truck and head back to reality, what if you just enjoyed the moment and relaxed? I'd bet you would enjoy the local cuisine, while listening to your hunger and fullness cues, without stressing about when you were going to see that food again. Let’s be real, you can always ask how something is made or book another trip to your favorite place. You’ll never get that moment or first experience back again, so it’s best to be mindful and enjoy it for what it is, the present. 

Embrace the change in routine without changing what works.

Change is good. It allows us to evaluate what’s working in our lives and what isn’t. Embrace what works and make adjustments for what isn’t. This mindset works in every other area of our lives and it works just as well with our food. If you know you’re hungry at the same time of day for the same type of food (i.e. breakfast) make a plan to get up, get dressed and get breakfast. If you’re staying somewhere like an AirBnB or a RV (which is my preferred method of travel) where you have access to fridge make a pitstop at the grocery store on the way in from the airport and get the items that you need to honor your hunger and fullness. I’ll even make use of the mini bar, if that’s all I have access to, for snacks and yogurts that I like to keep with me. It confuses the hotel staff but I’ve never been charged for taking the alcohol out of the mini bar, adding my snacks in and putting the booze back when I leave. There’s always a stress free solution if you look for it. Own your needs and make sure you have what you need regardless of where you are. 

Taking the stress out of traveling is what makes it truly enjoyable. Intuitive eating allows you to honor your hunger and fullness cues, embrace new foods without guilt, and embrace the change in routine all while providing yourself the gentle nutrition that you need. If you haven’t had a chance make sure you download my free intuitive eating guide 3 Secrets to Kicking Diets to the Curb

Till next time,

Dr. Claudia


P.S. I'll be sharing how I use intuitive eating while traveling this summer via Instagram so don't forget to follow along for how I handle food on the road.