We’ve heard it before…the cliché, “I need to get back on track” after coming back from a vacation. But what if we changed the game & viewed vacation eats as regular eats?
I’ll start off with a little life update. Two weekends ago, I ventured down to Tuscaloosa, Alabama to walk in my Master’s graduation ceremony at The University of Alabama. Right after I finished my dietetic internship & became a dietitian last year, I decided to continue my education. I completed my MS in Human Environmental Sciences with an emphasis in Human Nutrition & a focus in Community Nutrition through Alabama’s distance program. Even though I did my degree online, I knew I just had to make the trip down to AL to walk in the ceremony & celebrate my accomplishment. So my parents, Colin, & I drove the 14 hours down south for a brief, but action packed stay in Tuscaloosa. Then Colin & I drove up to Nashville to spend a couple days there. It was a whirlwind of a trip & I’ve been back for a week now. I originally planned on sharing my favorite local spots that we ate at during the trip, but it got me thinking about vacation & food.
What if vacation eats were thought of just the same as our regular eats?
There’s often this thought that we need to “get ourselves back on track” after a vacation. Maybe we feel we indulged a little too much while we were away. But I kind of hate this thought & it’s a thought that has often times plagued me, as well. It’s that internal battle of associating our foods as “good” & “bad” and then transposing those labels onto ourselves when we eat those said “good” & “bad” foods. It’s the thought that we have to eat on a more regimented plan during our normal, every day lives & then when we go on vacation we’re allowed to go a little rogue & eat whatever we want & indulge in more foods than we normally would allow. <-- That last sentence right there is diet mentality, folks.
How do we get rid of that, how do we take away the post-vacation guilt & the feeling to “get back on track?”
My thought is – if we never put ourselves on a track or limit ourselves to a specific diet to begin with, then vacation eats aren’t any different than our regular eats…besides the fact that you’re probably not doing as much home cooking that week – and that’s okay! It’s this thought of incorporating a more mindful approach to food & nutrition, listen to our body’s wants & needs and eating for pleasure & satisfaction all the time. When we don’t restrict the ice cream or the hearty, palatable meals or the cocktails. If we give into cravings when we have them, focus on flexibility & balance when it comes to our plate, and give ourselves grace on a regular basis, then those vacation eats won’t seem like such a huge conflict. We won’t feel the need to “eat super healthy” when we get back because we “fell off the wagon,” or whatever other cliché saying is out there.
Sure we’re going to probably eat more palatable, less nutritious foods when we go on vacation, just because we’re eating most meals at a restaurant. But this doesn’t have to come with associated guilt because our bodies are geniuses & can regulate themselves. A week of less nutritious eats is NOT going to ruin you. You don’t have to do anything different when you come back to “make up for” your less nutritious week. Your body is going to do it by itself. Maybe that’s through signaling cravings for some veggies or lean protein or whole grains. Or maybe it’s by giving you energy to prep some lunch meals for the week ahead. It’s going to look & feel differently for everyone, but your body is going to even itself out & be okay in the end.
This post isn’t meant to make you think vacation eats have to be boring either. I like to spend my vacations finding local hidden gems with awesome food or indulging in a nicer, upscale restaurant because I don’t do that on a regular basis. But I’m working on incorporating this mentality of not having vacation vs. regular day eats & having guilt when I come back home. I still struggle with this, as I am learning to become more flexible in my eating mentality every single day, or else I wouldn’t have written this post!
We can take vacation eats off the pedestal by checking in with ourselves, giving our body what it wants & needs, and eating that cookie when we want the cookie.