In this article, I’m asking you to challenge what you have been told about getting holiday ready and I’ll be inviting you to take a look at this from another point of view. So, if you are in search of ways to support your body and mind on the run into, during and after your holiday, take a read of the below and learn all about ‘Healthy Holiday Eating – The Intuitive Eating Approach’.
Getting ‘Beach Body’ Ready
Many of us spend a significant amount of our year looking forward to the idea of what a holiday is going to bring us – some relaxation, sunshine, fun with friends and family and some all important downtime. But, with a couple of weeks to go, a little bit of fear starts to grow inside us. “What will I look like in my bikini? What will people say about me?”. We feel this pressure to get ‘beach body’ ready and it weighs on our mind in the lead up to our break away.
In these moments, you may think that you are shifting your focus to “getting healthy” but in reality these thoughts and this body consious mindset is not particularly helpful in supporting your wellbeing. Your wellbeing extends far beyond your physical wellbeing and is much more about what’s happening to you emotionally, mentally, spiritually and yes, physically.
Looking after your entire wellbeing is key to having both a healthy and enjoyable holiday.
The Food and Mood Cycle
For the purpose of this article, we are going to focus on the area that people tend to get hung up on the most – food. As we dive in, an important point I want you to remember is that ALL foods can be part of a healthy diet and eating foods without guilt, and being neutral in your thoughts about food, is key to you being able to go and enjoy your holiday.
You may notice a pattern when it comes to food and holidays. In the weeks before your holiday, you tend to fret and stress about what you are eating. You take measures to change or alter your body size, restricting and depriving yourself of foods that you want.
Then, while on holiday, as your stress hormones come down, your defense may also come down. You end up finding yourself in a position where you are overeating food to the point of over-fullness throughout the holiday. The negative self-talk kicks in as your shame and berat yourself, and those guilty feelings start to rise up inside of you.
As you reach the halfway mark of your holiday, you find that you’re already starting to worry about when you get home. You focus on what you’re going to have to do to undo all this “fun”. So, the cycle of behaviour continues. You keep overeating because in your mind, you are going to have to undo it all when you get back so why not go all in for the last half of the holiday? You indulge in more unhealthy behaviours and add stress to your already stressed mind.
So, this year, rather than let that happen, become aware of the pitfalls. Understand that this might be happening to you. Stop and think ‘is this really how I want to be on my holiday?’
Healthy Holiday Eating Tips:
Avoid the Diet Mentality
The first thing that I’m suggesting to you coming into the holiday season, is to just try your best to avoid any of that diet mentality. And let’s face it, it’s everywhere. But, if you can avoid seeing those messages, then you can reduce the number of times that those thoughts will pop into your head. We know that our environment and what we surround ourselves with is hugely influential in how we behave. Take a look at who you follow on social media, who are you listening to, where is your information coming from? Choose wisely when it comes to nourishing your mind, before you choose what nourishes your body.
My next tip would be to really connect with your body’s cues, particularly when it comes to fullness. Starting this practice before you go on holiday is key to avoiding overeating while away. As mentioned earlier, holiday mode tends to see a lot of us let our guard down. After weeks of restriction, we are ready to let our hair down and it’s when we are in this mindset that we can easily forget to tune into our fullness.
Now, this is partly because there might be a rebel in us thinking ‘well, I’m on my holidays, so I don’t care. I’m just going to go for it.’ but it’s also a direct result of feeling deprived for so long and we simply cannot sustain it. While it’s great to let go of the restrictions around food, it doesn’t help you when you wake up the next morning feeling overfull, guilty and disempowered.
To avoid these feelings, get into the practice of checking in on yourself. And if you feel like it, try saying, ‘no, thanks. I don’t want anymore’. You don’t have to follow anyone else’s lead except your own. If you are eating out with friends, you don’t have to go for the full three courses just because that’s what everyone else is doing. Take a minute, ask yourself, ‘am I truly hungry for all three courses? Do I feel full with just a starter? Or am I full after a starter, but choose to have a dessert that will satisfy me?’
Start making those rules about what’s right for YOU. What’s your fullness level? Understand it and recognise when it signals you.
This leads me back to the next tip, that is about choosing foods that satisfy you. Usually when I speak to people during their sessions, many worry about what foods they should be eating from a menu. What I teach and practice with my clients, as well as practicing myself, is to look at the menu and really zone in on what would feel satisfying for me today? Some days that’s a burger. Often it could be a Caesar salad. And other days, that may be fish.
If we only ever choose what we think we should have, then chances are what you are choosing will not satisfy you. This is why you may later find yourself at the fridge, not knowing what exactly it is that you want but you’re still thinking about that burger you really wanted earlier on.
So now, consider instead what happens when we choose what we know will satisfy us? What you will most often find is that the craving ends there. That feeling of being dissatisfied doesn’t linger and continue. Aiming to choose foods that will truly satisfy you is key in order to help you to support your body, to reach its own natural fullness.
Intuitive Eating includes the practice of eating mindfully and slowly. What that really comes down to is just you taking notice – taking notice of what you’re eating, and thinking about all the different senses in how we eat. It’s about noticing when you walk into a kitchen and there’s a smell of onion and garlic that really ignites a sense of feeling that you would really like to eat this food.
So that’s what we must think about when it comes to eating, and specifically mindful eating. It is about bringing ourselves into a place of awareness. In mindful eating, you use the senses to guide you. First you look at the visual aspect – how does the food look for you on the plate? You think about the aromas – how does it smell for you? What’s your environment like? Are you eating in a comfortable setting? Is everything you are noticing bringing you a sense of calm?
Often when I work with people with digestive struggles, they say that when they go on holidays, they feel better. I’m always curious about why this may be and ask if they have thought about this. One reason could be the slowing down and engaging the senses which they may have been unaware of. This is why I want to draw your attention to it now. When you become more aware of your senses and what feels good to you, eating becomes so much more calm and enjoyable, and in turn we eat to comfort for both our mind and body.
Make Time For Joyful Movement
My final tip, not specific to food but important nonetheless, is about making movement that feels good to you. I remember back to when I brought movement into my life. And while my initial reasons may have been related to weight loss, I soon began to realise that I was able to maintain the movement that was enjoyable for me.
When I first went on holiday I felt this pressure to always be doing something, but I wasn’t considering how much I actually did while on holiday. From sightseeing and water activities to evening strolls along the beach, I was actually bringing movement into my days but in a different way.
Movement doesn’t always have to be this intense workout. Maybe it’s as simple as doing a few extra lengths of the pool. Maybe it’s renting a bike to get around or taking a walking tour of your destination. Think about ways that you can move that will be enjoyable for you.
As I shared previously, I used to move a lot when I was on holidays, but when I started putting the intention out there that I HAD to, things changed. My perception changed, my stress, my feeling of myself changed. So for this holiday, I invite you to just engage in that feels fun and joyful to you.
I’ve taken you to a place where you can begin thinking now in a different way. You can let go of what you have done in the past, if you’ve done the diet; or if you’ve followed all those plans to get your beach body ready; found yourself in those patterns of behaviour where you’ve noticed you’ve overeaten, you’ve come home, berating yourself, because you’ve got to earn back now, or you’ve got to make up for all of the bad stuff that you did in your holidays.
This summer, I am encouraging you to think about these five tips and really decide for yourself, do you want to think about things differently? Are you ready to say no to a diest culture that has not given you the results that you wanted? And if so, read this message again and again and again.
Remember, we can’t just wake up and be peaceful, or we can’t become a mindful eater or an intuitive eater overnight. We’ve got to create it for ourselves, and we create that by thinking about things differently. So instead of looking at those messages of you getting yourself ‘beach body ready’, consider my message – the kind of messaging that will allow you to truly go on your holiday and enjoy the experience. Every single bit of it – the late nights, the early mornings, the afternoon snoozes, the swims, the walks, the food, all of it, because that’s what a holiday is about.