Letting go of food anxiety and control when travelling | Advice

A post about travelling… there are many different directions i can take this post.

How to be vegan when travelling.

How to be healthy/keep up with routines when travelling.

And also… how to be ok with letting go of routines and control and enjoy your holiday.

I want to write about all three, because they are all relevant to different people. For some people, they do need tips on how to maybe stay active during holiday, what to think about with food so as to not go all in all day with the food.

But for others… that is not the type of advice they need. Instead, they need advice on how to be ok with letting go of routines. How to be ok with not exercising for a week. How to be ok with not having planned or structured meals. Eating out several times a day. How to enjoy your holiday, GUILT and ANXIETY free.

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Of course is there a magical answer on how to do this… not really, the first time or first holiday may not be the easiest. But i can say, the only way to find that balance, to be able to enjoy a holiday without letting food or exercise control it or give you anxiety, is to face those fears.

If your holiday is just a week, then realise that it is one week out of 52 weeks. It is 7 days out of 365 days, what does it matter if you eat more than usual? What does it matter if you don’t exercise.

If anything… it will just do you good, because the honest truth is that if you need this reminder that it is ok to not exercise and it is ok to just rest, then you are more than likely doing more exercise than necessary to be healthy and resting will just be beneficial for you. Not to mention, eating differently when you are on holiday, enjoying the food and allowing yourself to try new foods and get that spontaneous ice cream, smoothie or glass of wine is just part of it.

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Think like this….. in the future, you will remember the memories. You will remember the experience and you hopefully want to make it a positive one.

Remember that food is not the enemy. Controlling your body, letting anxiety and fear foods control you won’t bring you happiness. Amir Menahem1437.jpg

  1. Photographer/credit: Amir Menahem

 

Some useful tips if you do struggle with anxiety around food because you are eating out or not able to exercise is:

Knowing where you are going to eat can be helpful. Just to mentally know where you are going to eat, what type of food is being served. NO… this doesn’t mean you compensate with salad for lunch because you are eating burgers for dinner, or that you skip breakfast because you are eating pasta for lunch. It can just help with the control issues which i am sure many know struggle with an eating disorder, or need this advice, may struggle with. Mentally preparing yourself can be helpful.

 

And just like i said in my most recent YouTube video about how to stop counting calories, (Youtube, IzzyM), is that when you go out to eat… ORDER THE FOOD YOU WANT. I know it may be tough, especially when you may be doing it 3 or more times in one day. But do it. I promise you, if you order a food you want, like or want to try, you will enjoy it so much more.

 

Hopefully you will be travelling with friends or family who don’t have any food rules or are very restrictive with their diet. Hopefully you are surrounded by people who can enjoy food, both vegetables and ice cream, and that can help you feel more comfortable and want to do the same thing.

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  1. Photographer/credit: Amir Menahem

Of course, if you are travelling with others who maybe are on a diet, make alot of food comments or are very restrictive in their way of eating it can be very triggering, and maybe make you feel uncomfortable with ordering and eating the amount or type of food you want. But then you have to ask yourself…. what type of life do i want to live? How do i want to remember this trip? Do i want to remember it filled with anxiety and restricitve behaviour… wanting to try a food but not allowing yourself? Or do you want to remember it with delicious food, seeing new places and a good time?

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Photographer/credit: Amir Menahem

It can be helpful to maybe spend a weekend away to start off with, where you don’t actively workout and allow yourself to eat the foods you want when you go out to eat. It can be a good way to start facing your fears.

Have coping skills and ways to cope with your anxiety planned. What works best for you… being alone or being with others? Does it help to just sit and breathe or do you maybe want some time to journal or maybe talk with others to help with the anxiety?

Also remember that the anxiety WILL pass after a meal. I know there may be anxiety before a meal and after, but it will pass… and the only way to make the anxiety lessen, is to face it. Unless you step outside of your comfort zone to face the anxiety, it will continue to control you.

Lastly a reminder… that even if you don’t have the courage to try a whole dish or a certain food all by yourself… if you are travelling with others, suggest you share. Because that can be the start of you facing your fears and fear foods. So if you don’t feel like you can handle finishing an ice cream by yourself, but you still want one…. suggest you share one. Of course… if you truly want th ewhole ice cream – then go for it, because you deserve it!

And remember, even if you don’t go to the gym or go for a run, you are most likely active in other ways…. exploring a new city and walking around. Walking to the beach, moving from place to place. And even if you don’t do that, and all you do is lie on the beach for a whole week… that is ok as well. Remember that it is just a short period of your life.

I know this post isn’t for everyone…. but for many, they may need these reminders.

In the past i could never travel or be away from home. Just the thought of having to eat out more than once in a week or not being able to workout while still having to eat several times a day would have sent me into panic mode. But the only way to get over those fears was to face them…. to travel, to allow myself to eat and enjoy food, to allow myself rest and know that my routines and habits will be there again when i am home. But allowing myself to truly enjoy myself, enjoy food and enjoy the company while i am travelling is so much more important than the amount of calories i eat or the amount of time i spent exercising.

 

When travelling, there can be a lot of anxiety… just because of all the changes… so just be aware and be prepared. Find out what works for you… what helps you cope with your anxiety. Be kind to your self and know that the only way to get better is to step outside of your comfort zone and do the things that scare you, and in that case it means facing fear foods and allowing yourself to rest. It may be easier said than done for some, but you can’t reach that place if you don’t even try or try to face your fears.

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If you have any other post suggestions you want me to make, just let me know!

How to find balance with food and eating. Overcoming fear foods.

When i talk about food, i talk alot about intuitive eating, balance, moderation, eating according to YOUR bodies needs.

But how do you do that when your hunger and fullness feelings aren’t working as they should, or maybe you don’t trust your body yet? Or maybe you just have too many fear foods to actually eat them, or when you do eat them you can’t stop yourself and eat the whole package?

If you have lived with an eating disorder, or disordered eating for a long time… intuitive eating including balance and moderation can seem very far away. And learning to trust your body and find balance with food doesn’t happen overnight, it is a process and a journey.

I do personally recommend everyone to try to eat intuitively, to listen to their body…because the body is smart. HOWEVER, the mind is almost smarter and there can be ALOT of mixed signals when it comes to eating.

All the misinformation about nutrition. All the “rules” regarding what you can eat and how much. If you were to listen to all the rules, you wouldn’t be able to eat anything.

It feels like children are the only ones who truly eat intuitvely and listen to their bodies. However unfortuntly more and more children are beginning to develop disordered eating or eating disorders for different reasons. Which is incredibly sad, and also shows that something is wrong with our society/how we talk about food/teach children how and what to eat, and that diet messages are being converted to children early on.

How do you begin to listen to your body and trust your bodies signals? How do you begin to eat intuitively?

First step is to try to get rid of all the rules and regulations you have around food. Sit down and analyse how and why you eat. What choices do you make when it comes to eating?

Do you choose a food based on nutrients? Based on calories? Based on what you deem as “healthy or unhealthy”? Or because you enjoy the food?

Do you portion the food out according to what you crave/want, or how much you think you should eat?

Do you eat when you are hungry or when the clock tells you when to eat? Do you allow yourself to eat when you feel hungry or do you limit yourself because you think you shouldn’t eat at certain times?

Do you eat until you are satisfied? Or do you leave food, thinking that is what you should do?

Do you plan and control your food intake?

Do you enjoy the food you eat? Do you get cravings for more after eating? Do you feel satisfied after eating?

Do you compensate after eating? If you have eaten a big meal do you eat less later on to compensate?

Do you eat foods you enjoy? Do you avoid foods out of fear? Do you have certain rules of when and what you can eat? Do you allow others to make food for you? Do you choose the option you want to eat when eating out?

Once you have answered those questions, you become more attuned to the way you eat/make food choices and whether they are healthy or not. I.e if you never eat until you are satisfied, only eat food that is low calorie and only eat at certain times due to rules… then maybe you need to rethink your relationship with food.

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Change rules and habits

The second step is to actually change those rules and habits if you have them. And you can start off by questioning the rules you have.

I.e why do i only eat at certain times and not allow myself to eat when hungry?

Why do i avoid certain foods even if i like them?

Why do i choose the food that is the lowest calorie even if i want another option?

Why won’t i eat food that is prepared by someone else?

etc etc

By questioning the thoughts and habits you begin to think differently and more rational. Because you have the answer inside of you… often it is out of fear or just out of habit that you eat the way you do/think the way you do about food.

 

Face fear foods

Third is to face those fears and make changes when necessary. Really try to listen to your bodies signals, and go against the conflicting or controlling thoughts you have about food.

If you go out to eat and you want to order the pasta but your mind says order the salad which is lowest kcal, then you need to go against that fear and order the option you really want. Not the option based on calories.

Do you feel extra hungry between breakfast and lunch, but don’t usually eat a snack then, and your mind says you should wait until lunch? Then go grab a snack and face that fear – listen to your body.

Do you want some cookies but you know you will feel guilty, or you won’t be able to stop yourself at one cookie? Then realise this is the perfect time to practise balance and not compensating.  My best tip is to buy single pack items. Don’t buy big packs of cookies, chocolates or crisps, not if you struggle with binge eating anyway. By eating one or two portions, it helps you practise balance and will stop you from binging on the whole pack. And by eating fear foods in a controlled way, it can help you to realise that you can eat the food in a regular amount without anything bad happening or having to compensate. It can be the first step to reintroducing and eating your fear foods in a controlled way…. which hopefully in the future can lead to you being ok with having a whole pack of cookies at home, or going to a buffet or party and eating all types of food in a healthy manner.

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Stop compensating what you eat

Another important step with finding food balance, is to not compensate for the food you eat. If you compensate, whether it is by eating less the next meal/next day, or by exercising or purging or using laxatives, this just makes it harder to truly trust your body, and it will also mess with your hormones and hunger/fullness feelings. Not to mention that you can’t find food balance while you still compensate for what you eat… this just turns into a negative cycle.

Eating the right portions sizes

If you are someone who eats very little, or if you struggle with binge eating… your hunger and fullness signals won’t be working as they should. A normal portion could seem huge or could seem tiny, depending on your food struggles. I don’t typically recommend weighing or measuring your food, especially not if you are trying to break free from an obsessive and controlling relationship with food. However, it could be beneficial to try to base your meals according to the “plate model” where you have carbs, protein and fat for each meal. This can be a first step to eating a decent portion of food and eating from all food groups for lunch and dinner, and can eventually lead to you feeling more free with what and how much you eat. Example, beginning to trust your bodies signals and eating more the days you feel you are extra hungry, or other days you may not want a cooked meal at all and that is also part of eating intuitively.

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Mindful eating

Another step in finding balance with food is being mindful of your eating, but NOT overthinking/overanalysing your food or eating. If you suffer from restrictive eating you may already be super mindful of how and what you eat and overanalyse/overthink how and what you eat. But balance with food is having a mindful approach to eating… are you eating out of hunger/boredom/stress? Are you eating your meals in 5 minutes or 45 minutes? It can be hard to explain this point without making it seem like you have to overthink each time you eat… because that is not the case. But if you are someone who eats very mindlessly, always snacking or sufers with binge eating… trying to tune in more with your body and whether it is real hunger or boredom/stress can be helpful.

And if you are someone who suffers with restrictive eating, it can be beneficial to become more mindful of your hunger… to actually eat when you feel hungry and not just drink coffee/chew gum or skip eating.

By being mindful of eating also means savouring your food. Enjoying your food. Taking the time to eat and not rushing your food.

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Take the time to cook your meals

Taking the time to cook food and actually have food at home is a way to find peace with food. If you take the time to cook a wholesome meal it is also a form of self respect and taking care of your body and mind. Take the time to enjoy each meal your eat and savour the food. If you eat in a rush or eat without really noticing you are eating, it makes it harder to feel full or to really enjoy the food.

Typically eating without distractions is recommended, however we live in a society where most people like to eat and watch tv/series/YouTube. So atleast taking the time to cook – whether it is by meal prepping or cooking each meal, you know you eat homecooked, nutritious food. (Even if not every meal has to be homecooked, it is fine to eat out or premade food every now and then).

Also, having “healthy food” at home is a way of nourishing your body. I know far too many people who pretty much never have food at home and instead order out each day or just don’t eat because they don’t have the interest, time or motivation to cook or buy food. But actually taking the time to do a grocery shop each week, meal prep if you don’t want to cook each day and if necessary, planning your dinners/lunches for the week, can be a way of taking care of your body and mind. It also limits the risk that you skip meals or order take out/heat premade food just because you don’t have any food at home.

 

Food is part of your life, not your whole life

Another step to finding balance with food, is allowing food to be part of your life, not your whole life. If you spend every minute of your day thinking about food, planning what you will eat, thinking about what you can and can’t eat, it will take up alot of time and energy. Not to mention that food begins to take a huge part of your day and alot of your focus. That focus, time and energy could be spent on other things.

Of course, if you are someone who works with food… whether it is cooking, baking, creating recipes, recipe blog, working with nutrition or any other job involving food, of course it will be part of your day and thoughts. But don’t let it take up more time and energy than necessary. Your day and thoughts shouldn’t be consumed by food thoughts… and especially not thoughts of what you can eat, when you can eat, what you can’t eat etc

Try to focus on other hobbies or interests you have, or surround yourself with friends and family if you find yourself consumed by too many food thoughts or obsessions. By allowing food to just eb part of your life, part of your day it is easier to find balance with food when it isn’t the sole purpose of your day.

People may make jokes that, “they live to eat”, or “food is my only happiness” or other quotes… but as long as they are just jokes it is fine. Because if the only happiness in your life is food or you only live to eat, then you need to question your eating habits and your relationship with food.

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Îf this if you in real life then you need to overthink your relationship with food and make changes to focus less on food.

Intuitive eating isn’t perfect

It is important to note that just because you eat intuitively doesn’t mean you always listen to your bodies signals. Food is more than just energy and eating nutrition. Food also plays a role in social contexts, it can have an emotional connection and times such as stress, tiredness, anxiety or other emotional states food can be a comfort. So don’t think that just because you eat intuitively and try to listen to your body, that that is what you do 100% of the time… because nobody really does that.

Intuitive eating isn’t supposed to be controlling or restrictive either… you can’t eat a perfect diet/eat perfectly while eating intuitively… there is nothing perfect about it. You should feel satisfied with the food you are eating and the amount you are eating. You should feel nourished and energized (as much as possible anyway!).

 

Summary: How to find balance with food?

So to summarize, how do you find balance with food? Well, first off questioning your habits, thoughts and mindset.

If you are reading this post, it is most likely that you are aware that you need to change something in your eating habits or you need to find more balance with your eating.

How you find balance also depends on what you struggle with …. whether it is restrictive eating, binge eating, constant yo-yo dieting or just not being able to trust your body or bodies signals.

A good recommendation is to try to eat regular meals throughout the day and to not restrict or cut out food groups.

Be mindful of your choices and be honest with yourself… that is where change begins. You often know the truth and why you make the choices you do.

It is not easy to find balance, especially not in todays society where it seems like every other person is on a diet or trying to lose weight.

Try to focus on YOU. Tune into your body…. of course like mentioned, many factors can affect your hormones which can affect your hunger/fullness which in turn makes it hard to trust your body. So just by starting to eat regular meals, and finding a routine with eating is the first step to trying to eat more freely.

Face fear foods in a controlled way to start off with. Be honest to yourself about your food choices, and make small active choices to make changes. And facing your fears is part of finding balance.

It is possible to find peace with food and find a balance relationship with food. However.. .remember there is no perfect way of eating. And most people have days where they eat too much or days they may not eat as much or days they just eat chocolate and bread… that is ok. It is not about eating a perfect diet or just eating fruits and vegetables, but LISTENING to your body and somedays that means eating oats for lunch or cookies as a snack. Othertimes it may mean a green smoothie for breakfast and a salad for dinner. That’s balance.

Some other relevant posts:

 

Eating intuitively – how and how to eat enough. 

How much is the right amount to eat? Talking portion sizes.

Binge eating recovery: Tips, advice, my experience: Masterpost

Intuitive eating: Is it really intuitive eating if….? | Nutrition post

Dealing with extreme hunger and binges? | Nutrition advice | Masterpost

Getting caught up in numbers around food – absorption/digestion, counting calories | Nutrition post

Does your life only revolve around food? Too much focus on food

Constant hunger & hormones? | nutrition post

Full but not satisfied? | Plantbased diet | Nutritionpost

A question i have recieved numerous times over the years is, “i never feel satisfied after eating”. This is especially related to a plantbased diet.

This is something i have felt before… where you feel a physical fullness and not really that you are hungry, but you aren’t satisfied. Something is missing.

And the fact is… there most likely is something missing from your diet in total which is giving you that feeling of not being satisfied.

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Many people who ask this question i have noticed are either 1) eating very restrictive diets with very little food, or 2) eating big portions but alot of vegetables either raw or cooked.

To feel satisfied after a meal it is not just about eating a huge volume of food or feeling physically full, but it is about getting in all the food groups and even different textures and tastes help with satisfaction.

Example, if you eat a raw food meal that is mostly salad and watery vegetables you will be lacking in both healthy fats and protein and even relatively low on carbohydrates and salt (unless you season with salt). So even if you feel full from the huge salad you ate, you haven’t actually gotten alot of energy into you and neither have you gotten energy from all the macronutrients.

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And the same goes if you eat a monomeal example just fruit, or just potatoes, or even eating a simple meal like beans and rice may leave you feeling unsatisfied but full. And that is because you are lacking both in macronutrients but even different tastes and textures that can help satisfy you.

So first off… eating a monomeal or rawfoodsalad from time to time is not a problem, somedays you just want a fresh salad for a meal or you just want to eat fruit. You don’t have to have all tastes, textures and macronutrients in each meal. The important thing is what you do overtime. So even if you just eat fruit for a whole week or just raw food for a whole week it is “ok”… maybe not the most optimal nutrition and in the long term can cause issues with nutrient deficiencies, digestive issues or huge cravings which i will talk more about below.

If you are eating restrictevly in some way, whether it is retrictive in food groups or restrictive in calores, or both… eventually you will begin to get cravings. You won’t feel sastisfied after a meal.

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So if you are in this situation, my best recommendation is to:

1) Eat varied with foods. Eat from all food groups meaning you get carbs from example oats, beans, lentils, whole grain bread and pasta, rice, quinoa and the list goes on

2) You get protein from ex: tofu, seitan, tempeh, beans, lentils, peas, oats, soy protein etc

3) You get fat from healthy sources such as: avocado, nuts, seeds, rapeseed oil, olive oil

Eating more regular meal times and not eating huge amounts of low energy, high volume foods such as salad/raw vegetables, and instead making sure to actually eat foods that provide more energy and different flavours can give you more satisfaction after a meal.

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Remember that fats provide you with energy which is needed for a healthy body, but also help you feel full for longer. Not to mention it adds flavour to your meals. (Read more about why you need fat here)

And protein is important for your whole body and even to help you feel full (which may not be the actual problem when you feel full but not satisfied. However, protein can also help you feel more satisfied after a meal as it adds essential nutrients and energy to your meals) (More about protein here &food combining as a vegan )

And carbohydrates provide energy, nutrients and fiber and can leave you more satisfied than  if you example eat zoodles instead of noodles or use cauliflower rice instead of rice . By cutting out carbs you also cut out important vitamins and minerals and you lower your energy intake which can leave you feeling unsatisfied and hungry. Of course… for some situations maybe cutting down on carbs a little or doing 50/50 rice and cauliflower rice or 50/50 zoodles and noodles maybe beneficial, but completly cutting out carbohydrates for a long period of time is not recommended. Post about: carbs and why we need them

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And lastly… adding more textures to your meals can help with satisfaction, as well as combining sweet and salty. Granted, not everyone likes sweet and salty in the same meal… but sometimes if you eat a very sweet meal you may notice you crave something more savoury and salty afterwards. Thoiugh this is individual, not everyone gets salty cravings after a sweet meal.  However, note… constantly having sweet cravings can be a sign of not getting enough energy or carbohydrates, or maybe you are not getting enough sleep. (Post: Constantly craving sweets and chocolate )

So, to end this post. Look over your diet and how you eat….. are you lacking in a food group? Are you eating high volumes of food but very little energy? Is there a certain taste that is lacking from your diet (salt, sweet, bitter, sour, umami)?

Hopefully this post helps you and don’t be afraid to change your diet or way of eating and see if that works better! If you constantly have cravings or you never feel satisfied after eating, then you need to make a change to your diet or look over how you eat and see if something is missing!

Other posts that may be relevant:

Craving meat? Sign of deficiency?

Scared of eating vegan becuse of the higher carb intake?

Scared of eating vegan becuse of the higher carb intake?