Holiday travel can be particularly challenging for those who value a healthy lifestyle and nutrition plan. The travel process is inherently stressful and comes with its own package of confusion and distractions. Sometimes it is important to step back and make a conscious decision to approach nourishing your body with some “Intuitive Eating” strategies.
Mindful eating is simply listening to what your body is telling you. It is not a program or a diet. It is about eating when you are hungry and stopping when you are full. Taking this approach with you when you travel can help you make wise choices and nourish yourself no matter where you are at. You learn to differentiate true physiological hunger from other eating cues such as emotions, boredom or tiredness.
Knowing that you have choices or options is an important foundation as you plan for your trip. Just like other areas of your life, your nutrition approach includes being aware of where you are currently at and a perspective that envisions your future goals. It is wise to take a few moments for a reality check and ask yourself some questions: Are you dealing with any current health challenges? What triggers derail your nutrition plan? What are your health and fitness goals for the next few months or year?
Being aware of where you are and what your goals are can give you direction in the midst of travel challenges. It is also important to understand that mindful eating is a process. It may take time for you to understand or trust your body’s cues and to make choices that honor your body. Here are three simple strategies to encourage you to eat mindfully:
1. Set aside time to eat
Avoid multitasking, listening to media, talking on the phone or computing while eating. Be attentive to what your body is telling you. Allow your time for nourishing you to receive 100% of your attention. How often have you found yourself just eating while driving, watching TV or having a phone conversation and you weren’t even aware of what you actually ate?. By eating to nourish and only doing one thing at a time, you savor the food and flavors. You are aware of what you eat and how much you eat. You may even want to put down your fork between bites. It is OK to eat slowly and chew your food well. The digestive process actually begins in the mouth when saliva is mixed with food. Be aware that it takes about 20 minutes for the satiety message from your gut to reach your brain, relaying the feeling of fullness.
2. Thinking and speaking
Treat yourself with respect and value. Observe your thoughts and inner comments to yourself. Are they judgmental or condemning? Instead of negative thoughts such as “I’m so stupid—why did I eat that?” Use positive affirmations that encourage and draw you into appreciating your body. Think about a good friend that you love and respect. How do you speak of them or describe them. Then apply those positive values and descriptions to yourself. An example of this could be: “Today I appreciate the gift of my body and I treasure and honor it; I treat myself with value and respect”.
3. Be Prepared
Pack your own bag of nourishing snacks. This allows you to eat when your body is asking for nourishment. This also reduces the tendency to let yourself get ravenously hungry and grab whatever is available. It allows you to make the best choices for nourishing your body. You don’t have to panic about food because you have provisions in case you need them. The snack bag can be something as simple as an apple, trail mix or a few almonds. If you want to be more creative you may include a wrap or sandwich and a food bar.
Mindfulness when you eat is a valuable way to reduce stress related eating. You nourish your body basing your decisions on accurately decoding your body’s feedback. Mindful eating guidelines can help create the balance your body needs and simplify the stress of holiday travel.
Brenda Mulder, Registered Dietitian and Flight Attendant offers ‘Healthy Choices For Travel Junkies’ at her website, www.inflightdietitian.com.