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How To Eat On Vacation Without The Guilt

As odd as it sounds I found it very comforting when I got off the plane in my flip flops only to realize it was pouring rain and would be for the whole week ahead. I love Autumn because it has a slower more scheduled pace than summer. Plus, we get to wear boots, scarves and drink tea more! I digress.


Back to my point. I was getting off the plane after spending 3 weeks in France and Italy: the land of bread, cheese, pastries, pizza and pasta – all of which I enjoyed on a daily basis (and sometimes multiple times a day).  In my day-to-day life I don’t eat a lot of any of these things. My husband is celiac so we don’t tend to have lots of bread in the house and I tend to feel best when I start my day with a smoothie instead of two almond croissants. But I was in Europe and to deny myself the pleasure of eating their local food would have left me more miserable than happy.


The purpose of taking holidays is to escape from the everyday, relax and enjoy yourself. A big part of escaping the everyday is enjoying the local food and eating differently than how you would normally eat. This is not my way of saying you should punish yourself with food, but rather giving yourself permission to eat what you want while away without making yourself feel guilty.

emotional eating support

What’s the difference? Punishing yourself with food can look like a lot of different things but one is unconsciously eating food and as much of it as possible without taking the time to enjoy it. In your day-to-day life I believe very strongly in listening to your body and what it is asking for. While I think it is awesome to apply this across the board I also believe sometimes it is nice to simply eat because it seems and/or is delicious. I have a hard time believing that my body was craving as many sweets as I ate while over there. I ate them because we happened to walk by a bakery and their options looked delicious. There were many times when I could have just as easily ordered soup and salad for lunch (likely what my body wanted) but I opted for the pizza. Give yourself permission to step outside of your usual routine and enjoy it.


What is the biggest trick to being successful at this? Coming home and not putting yourself on a diet. I must admit, there was a part of me when I was meal planning that told myself I should cut out all sugar (minus fruit) so my body could detox (I have a food sensitivity to refined sugar). But then I realized that by doing that I am basically punishing myself for having a great time and enjoying my holiday. So instead I planned my meals based on what I know my body typically craves and looked up some recipes for healthy muffins. Coming home and putting yourself on a diet isn’t going to make yourself feel better. Nor will coming home and stepping on the scale right away. Its possible, even likely, that you may put on weight when you are away on holidays. Instead of beating yourself up for it and increasing your stress, respect yourself enough to realize that you will release this weight as you get back to your usual eating habits.

My words of advice?

When you are on vacation enjoy it in every way. That is the whole purpose of a vacation. Listen to your body but also give yourself permission to have a little fun and enjoy things you might not have the opportunity to enjoy at home.

When you get home, take a deep breath and don’t sabotage all the good that came from your holiday. Realize that what is most important now is not dieting but rather conscious eating and giving your body the foods you know it responds best to.

Meal plan so that you don’t have to worry about what you are going to have to dinner and just need to go through the process of making it.

I’m off for tea and a walk, how are you taking care of yourself today? Let me know in the comment section below.

{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Alyson October 6, 2013, 4:02 pm

    Thank you for this article, Kaela! I learned a lot from reading it. As someone who struggles with ED and compulsive exercise, my life is extremely regimented, so going on vacation is one of the things that stresses me the most. Any time my husband and I go on holiday he always makes sure that there is a fitness centre at our hotel so I can get my work-outs in. I worry constantly about what I will eat, how many meals, etc. etc. We take a vacation every year in September and this was the first year ever that I allowed myself to relax and eat what I desired. I even slowed down on the exercising and made the conscious decision two afternoons to spend time with my husband lounging by the pool instead of pounding away on the treadmill, beating myself up for the brunch I’d enjoyed earlier that day. Since then, when I am feeling strong and up to it, I am making a concerted effort to go against that voice that tells me I need to punish myself with endless amounts of exercise. Today I am up early, enjoying my coffee and the sun. Later, we will take a walk to do some shopping in our neighbourhood. Thank you — I really love reading your newsletters.

    • kaela October 8, 2013, 5:34 pm

      Wow Alyson, be so proud of yourself that is an amazing step forward and I am sure it was so nice to be able to enjoy some quality time with your husband instead of beating yourself up on the treadmill. Every step you take is one step closer to feeling well. I am proud of you.

      Keep well and enjoy the sun!


  • Diane October 7, 2013, 6:42 pm

    Fabulous article, Kaela! Thanks so much for outlining a kinder, healthier, happier way to be with our bodies!! I find this especially helpful in countering ALL the messages in the media, at the workplace coffee room, at parties, etc that say we have to “diet” after our holidays–as though that is the NORM. Ugh!

    How nice to be able to enjoy holidays and maintain a healthy regard for oneself before, during and after the holiday. I am printing this blog off and giving it to all my clients and friends who start all that nonsense talk–such self-defeating and self-deprecating voices! It’s hard to quiet all the voices, I know, so it is great to have yours there to counter them. You’re like the cool, healthy, trust-worthy, calmin sister voice I long to hear!!!

    We could all use that voice a bit more, I’m sure.

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

    • kaela October 8, 2013, 5:33 pm

      Thanks so much Diane. I am so happy to hear you found it helpful. Thanks for passing it on!

  • Leah December 25, 2015, 10:40 am

    Hey Kaela,
    Thanks so much for this article. I just stumbled upon it the morning after spending Christmas with my Norwegian relatives and consuming an ungodly amount of mashed potatoes and chocolate and was on the border of regretting it. As someone who struggles with guilt and compulsive exercise its been really hard for me to continue to enjoy my (long, six week) vacation full of this after having it go on for so long. I am trying to enjoy it, and most of the time I do, but I am on a year abroad so going “home” for me is actually returning to school on a foreign country where sometimes I still feel on vacation because I’m not in my normal environment. Do you have any advice for this? Thank you,

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