Did you know that you can indulge on vacation and still maintain healthy habits? Many travelers don’t think this is possible of themselves because they tend to believe the act of indulgence is an “all or nothing” concept. But the key to enjoying your vacation in every aspect, including culinary exploits, is to change your perception of what being indulgent really means.
What if indulging meant pure enjoyment without judgment? What if it meant giving yourself the permission to satisfy your craving without being scared of eating every bite? Per the dictionary, the word ‘indulging’ means “allowing oneself to enjoy the pleasure of something.” When you stop to look at a sunset, you give yourself the permission to stop entirely in order to immerse yourself in the moment. You take the time to watch something cosmically beautiful – knowing this moment won’t last forever, but being grateful that you’re in the majestic presence of it all.
Imagine if you allowed yourself to enjoy food as you would a sunset – knowing these morsels won’t last forever, and so instead of attempting to extend the moment by eating more of [insert pleasure], you observe yourself reveling in a few bites, listening to the people and sounds around you, the lights and colors of the experience, and the tastes of the treats you’ve chosen. You feel lucky to be here, on this vacation. You’re indulging.
Isn’t the art of indulging what a memorable vacation is really about? Not that you ate your way mindlessly through a country and can’t bear to look at the photos of yourself after the fact, but rather, that you got the chance to relax, adventure, and be present. And that sense of presence extends toward eating amazing food without worrying if your pants will fit at the end of the trip.
Let the following three takeaways become your guide to indulge well while on vacation:
- Know what to expect on your vacation. Knowing what to expect helps visualize how to plan your indulgences. For example, are you staying in a hotel? Does the hotel have a gym? Does it have a mini-fridge to store healthy fruits and yogurts? Are you renting a vacation home? Do you know where the grocery stores will be – are you eating all meals out or will you plan to dine in? Dining in during a vacation allows the opportunity to create a healthy balance so that when you do dine out, you are able to feel excited by the idea of eating a rich meal since you had a lighter meal the night prior. Plan your itinerary so that you can get excited about when and where you may have the opportunity to indulge!
- Indulging needs to be smart. Indulging takes practice – especially if you are looking to lose weight or maintain weight that’s already been lost. Indulging on vacation when you haven’t actually allowed yourself to experience what indulging is like during your everyday life is just setting yourself up for failure. If you’re not ready to introduce certain foods into your life or fear these foods will trigger excess eating, it is recommended you seek guidance from a Registered Dietitian (RD) in advance of your travels to review how to “plan a lapse” and move forward from the experience versus getting mired in it.
- Healthy balance precedes indulgence. The art of indulging well means you are already enjoying your favorite foods without eating them in excess. Indulging means appreciating food, allowing yourself to be satisfied both mentally and physically, and feeling happy that you got the chance to taste these foods to begin with. Creating a balance of healthy foods whether on or off vacation precedes the art of indulgence: when your guard is down and the relaxed side of you emerges, that side of you will be fearless versus fearful.
Here’s to indulging well while away, and planning to enjoy the moment!
By Marissa Beck, MS, RD