I often hear how scary vacations and holidays can be. People aren't the only ones expressing or perpetuating concern. Think about advertising for a second... the urge to diet before summer time or the post-Christmas diet to shed holiday pounds. I just want to take a few moments and shed a few reminders to encourage you to trust your body and its set point. For those who don't know what their set point is, trust your meal plan and the effects of healthy amounts of exercise. Over time, your body will do the rest*.
1) Diets Don't Work! It is a trap that does not offer a long term solution. When diets end, one's weight often returns to its pre-diet range, IF NOT HIGHER. A life style change needs to occur in order to be healthy, instead of a crash course in dieting.
2) People Tend To Indulge on Vacations/Holidays! Holidays and vacations are typically short term in nature compared to the every day routine of living. Maybe you are staying at an all inclusive resort for a week or two that offers buffets three times a day. Yup, you are probably going to eat more than you would at home, BUT when you return, you will likely return to your routine of normalized eating and exercise. Your body will adjust to this. Also, certain holidays and vacations may include an increase in exercise than your normal day to day routine. Maybe you end up playing football with the cousins at Thanksgiving or you go for a winter hike before dinner. Again, your body will figure it out.
3) Plan For It! It is okay to go into holidays and vacations with a meal plan. It might not be a great idea to just throw all caution to the wind and hope for the best if throughout the rest of the year you are following a meal plan. In time, you may feel you are ready to be flexible with this, but there is no shame if you need a more concrete plan going into it. Remember though, a few extra helpings or desserts is not going to make or break you.
4) Normalized and Healthy! One of the main goals in working towards a healthier relationship with food is to also incorporate normalization. 'Healthy' and 'normalized' are two different words. Perhaps eating a special dessert your Great Aunt Ida makes isn't the most nutritious, but it is normal to eat it on such an occasion. Eating a cultural dish when travelling to different country may be a very different experience for you, but is also normal to do. We miss the point in recovery if we solely focus on healthy eating in and of itself. Part of being healthy is having a certain degree of flexibility in food consumption. Do you really want to try that special treat? Allow yourself! Keep in mind, however, that you may not feel the greatest after eating too many. Enjoy it while still knowing the limit.
5) Life Beyond Food and Weight! Disordered eating/eating disorders and low self-esteem or body-image has already taken too much from your life! Go, make memories, create experiences. Don't let your shape and weight get in the way.** Play on the beach with your loved ones in your swim suit... Have fun!
*make sure to consult your doctor if rapid weight loss or gain occurs to rule out any other medical issues
** sometimes travelling is not advised due to medical complications or risks. Consult your doctor and treatment team around this