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Traveling with an Eating Disorder, Part 2 of 3

(If you haven’t read Part I, I encourage you to start there and come on back when you’re done.)

In the first segment of this 3-part article we addressed what it can be like when we have a stressful relationship with food and we’re away from home and our familiar foods and secure access to them. I gave you some clear steps to follow to aid you to feel more balanced and relaxed while you’re out and about.

In this segment, we’re going to address one of the other key elements of traveling. It is so incredibly obvious and yet, like many obvious things, we often don’t think about it and consider its potential impact on us physically and emotionally. This “obvious” thing I’m talking about is the change that occurs in your daily routine when you’re traveling and how this affects your body and emotions. This change directly impacts your primary coping strategy: Food and Bad Body Thoughts.

When traveling, your routine is naturally different from when you’re at home; that’s part of the draw of a trip. However, if you completely lose touch with any sense of structure and you’re not yet able to hear and respond respectfully to the signals from your body about when you’re hungry or full, traveling can bring about your worst food fears. You eat things you normally wouldn’t, and in quantities your body doesn’t need. You feel heavy and overfull much of the time, which spawns negative thoughts about your body and, in frustrating irony, thoughts of using food to cope, if not the actual act of doing so.

But all is not lost. If you develop a gentle routine and challenge yourself to wait until you feel truly physically hungry, that is the best approach to combat the stress of different spaces and places when you use food to cope. Let go of your concern about what you’re eating – yes, that’s what I said – let it go. It won’t serve you now. Instead focus more on waiting until you’re hungry and then having what you really want.

When the situation is such that a meal is presented to you before your body has let you know you’re hungry, i.e. everyone else is sitting down to eat, and you feel compelled to join them, choose something small and light (a small salad, some fruit, a small bowl of ice cream) and then eat more when you get truly hungry.

If you’re staying at a place with no room service or easy access to food at all times and are concerned about being hungry but not having access to food, order something at the meal with everyone else but order it to go and have it packaged so you can eat it when you’re truly hungry. Even if it’s just half an hour later that your hunger cues kick in, you’ll feel so much better in your body, you’ll hear much less from your inner critic (the Drill Sgt.), and you’ll feel much more respectful of yourself because you took good care of yourself and trusted the signals from your body. There is absolutely no downside to waiting until you’re hungry unless you don’t plan for it and find yourself without anything to eat at all or with only poor choices around you (i.e. fast food, processed and refined carbohydrates).

Also, keep in mind that in warmer weather your metabolism slows and you naturally require less food less frequently to keep you going. Don’t worry. You will not starve if you ease up on your normal quantities.

Coming back to the principles of Natural Eating (see Part I) will help you immensely during times of change like traveling.

  • Eat when you’re hungry
  • Stop when you’re full
  • Everything is okay in moderation
  • Let go of guilt, it doesn’t help you in any way – if it actually were a motivating factor, don’t you think you’d already have achieved your goal 1000 times over?

When you’re traveling, Natural Eating is the very best way to create a sense of structure when each day truly is different.

Stay tuned for Part III of the Travelling article. In that installment we’ll be exploring the emotional impact of traveling and its impact on our body image and on our use of food to cope.

If you’d like to share your own travel story, I’d love to hear it. Leave a comment or send me an email directly to mmorand@cedriccentre.com

Have a beautiful day!

Love Michelle

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