Vacations are supposed to be a time to relax – BUT, when you struggle with an eating disorder, traveling can be extremely overwhelming.
What kind of food will be available? Exactly when and where will you be eating? How was the food prepared? Will I be able to workout?
Questions like these might swirl through your head, plus just being out of your usual routine can cause anxiety and worry.
Vacations aren’t supposed to be torture
Even when you are weight restored and technically out of recovery, vacations can still be stressful in the food and exercise departments.
However, they don’t have to be!
After years of ruining vacations being too uptight, I have learned a few things that help me put my mind at ease when I am away from home.
Here are four tips for enjoying your vacation no matter where you are on your recovery journey:
1. Know what vacations are all about
First of all: when on vacation, your focus shouldn’t be about what food you are going to eat and when you are going to exercise (and, frankly, neither should life in general).
Vacations are short periods of time to experience what your destination has to offer and have fun with the people you’re with.
Vacations are about creating memories, site seeing, spending too much money, and (yes) trying new foods – which leads me to my second tip…
2. Don’t let food fear take over
Don’t let your food phobias prevent you from trying traditional dishes and new foods! One of the biggest parts of experiencing a new place is trying the foods it offers and prepares best.
Some of these foods may not be the “healthiest”, but don’t let that scare you away from them.
Remember that one unhealthy meal will not make you “fat” overnight – and neither will a week of eating out when you’re on vacation. This is an irrational fear that you must push aside!
If you are afraid that you will not like the food, bring snacks! Pack a variety of protein bars, trail mixes, crackers, and any other non-perishable or liquid foods you enjoy. You can never go wrong with snacks!
3. Prioritize adventure over exercise
Don’t let your exercise addiction get in the way of spending time with the people you are with and participating in activities.
Sure, most hotels have fitness centers, but you should NOT prioritize the fitness center over site seeing or going on adventures! Nor should a lack of exercise lead to restricting food.
Like I said, vacations are short periods of time. A few days away from the gym will not hurt. You will not lose any progress, your muscles will not get soft and squishy, and YOU WILL NOT GET FAT! These are all irrational fears as well!
4. Have fun!
I know it is easier said than done, but ultimately you need to understand that vacation is about letting go of control in order to gain experience – NOT obsessing over food and exercise.
It is a time to push those irrational thoughts out of your mind and going with the flow.
Don’t be anxious if you can’t workout and eat like you normally do at home. Try new foods. See what there is to see. Go exploring. Find fun things to do. Make memories with the people you are with.
But, most importantly, relax and have fun!
(Last Updated: September 14, 2022)