Summertime means different things to different people. Some are excited to get out of hibernation and go travelling. Others see vacations as a scary time where they are likely to binge or overeat, gain weight and feel even more out of control with their health.
There are two important things to keep in mind -- first, vacation is a time to relax, kick back and yes, enjoy fun foods. However, this is hard for most people who are dieting and are terrified of gaining weight, let alone not losing any.
If you are determined to have food rules, it is a time to relax those rules and allow for fun foods. If you have always overate ice cream or fries, then it is normal that you are somewhat scared to open Pandora's Box by eating them. It takes practice to learn how to eat these foods in smaller quantities and to feel in charge when eating them. Practice along with a side of guilt-free, mindful eating is the key. Thinking that you have "blown it" by eating something you deemed forbidden, only makes matters worse.
Secondly, keep in mind that going on vacation does not mean you have no healthy choices from which to chose. And no, I'm not talking about eating salads all summer! Throwing in the towel to trying to eat reasonably is what gets many people in trouble. No, a mile-high plate of pancakes with tons of syrup is not a balanced breakfast. BUT, you won't gain weight from doing this once in a while. Believing that you can make a reasonable food choice no matter where you are eating usually helps people feel more in charge of their eating and more confident that they can eat well. Assuming that trying to eat well will be impossible, will only fuel your thoughts that trying is useless. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
No matter where you are headed this summer, you can keep up with your health goals or continue to eat well. These goals may have to modified to be more flexible and they'll take more of a back seat compared to other times of the year but there are solutions to the less healthy problems.
If you are taking a long trip in the family car here are a few ideas to keep both your wallet and your body feeling good:
- Pack a cooler with plenty of easy to eat finger foods like pretzels, popcorn, cherry tomatoes, baby cucumbers, mini carrots, cherries and bananas. Water and juice as well as simple sandwiches (like peanut butter and jam) and yogurt (drinkable or tubes don't require any utensils) are also easy to pack and keep cool.
- Aim to eat every four to five hours. Skipping meals or waiting too long between meals will cause a drop in your energy levels and spike your hunger. Both of these are very unhelpful when trying to make healthy food choices and navigating a car full of people in unknown territory.
- Take the time to eat meals outside of the car. This will help you to listen to your hunger and satiety signals better. While on a meal break, take a few minutes to stretch your legs. It will boost your energy levels and alertness.
- If you are stopping at a rest stop to buy food, buy small portions. Kid-sized meals are perfect for this. All the fun of a burger and fries without feeling overstuffed.
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