Most people on the weight journey have experienced uncertainty about what to do while away from home, especially when they have little or no choice in what is served. I've seen and heard stories on both sides of the spectrum. Some people throw off the reigns entirely and decide to "start again" when returning home. Other people are more rigid, and their body may not get the nourishment it needs when they are away.
And everything in between.
You may reason with yourself that you don't have a choice, then indulge in ways that could have been avoided, only to regret and guilt yourself when you get home.
You may be attending a wedding, conference, or other event where the meal is plated, and you get what they put in front of you with little to no choice. In these situations, there is inevitably cake or some other delicacy for dessert. You either choose to eat what's in front of you, or you don't eat.
And, pending where you are in the weight journey, this decision may come easier or harder.
To top it all off, when you decide to eat that off-plan food, you bring in different emotions right behind it, making things feel even worse. Perhaps, for you, it's guilt, shame, regret, or something else.
If you decide not to eat, you're left hungry, wondering why weight loss needs to be so hard, or ruminating over what you "can't have," causing even more cravings for those things later.
It can feel like you're in a lose–lose situation!
Then there are the times when we go to a family or friend's house for dinner. Even before you get there, you know it will be a heavy meal with not many choices you consider "on plan." And there are certain to be snacks and desserts (not the healthy kind either).
The last thing you want to do is disappoint Mom or Grandma by not trying what they made or, worse, not eating at all.
And, when you are out with friends, you know, going in, you're going to get bombarded with questions about "what new diet" you're on when they see you are eating differently than before.
With each new twist and turn, there are new or different temptations.
A certain conviction and determination comes with the decision to change your eating habits and lifestyle. The weight-loss journey can bring frustration, moments of feeling like you are going backward more than you are going forwards, sadness, anger, uncertainty, disgust, or guilt. Or, it may bring other emotions and feelings for you. But, if you let it, the weight loss journey can also build inner strength, pride, satisfaction, and joy, not to mention the physical benefits of your work.
Food and food choices don't have to be hard when you are away from your normal controlled spaces.
Trust me; I've been there countless times through the years. It can be hard, but it doesn't have to be!
Early in my weight and body journey, I learned how to travel and keep food on track to maintain my desired body and weight goals. When I choose to, I stay on track in every situation, from work trips, conferences, family celebrations, vacations, and more.
And YOU CAN TOO!
Here are the steps I take to stay on track when I travel. Give them a try and see what works best for you.
Decide what you want!
Making a decision may be the most important thing. If you have followed my work for any amount of time, you know this is my starting point for nearly everything. Even if you make minor adjustments along the way to your decision or choices, without a clear decision, you may have a lot of wavering and ultimate disappointment when trying to reach your goals.
Regarding food and food choices, having a clear decision can help make it easier when you come across tempting foods.
To help decide what you want to be okay with when traveling, a good question is, "What do I want my food conversation and body to look like one year from today?" I would get very detailed and clear on the answer to that question.
Then, follow it up by answering these questions, "what do I have to do, and who do I have to be to have that vision come to life?"
When you are answering these questions, think about a food lifestyle. Something you can live by as opposed to a "diet." The way you want to eat for life as opposed to losing weight then going back to the same ole same ole. Using this approach can help avoid unnecessary ups and downs in your weight.
Bring healthy snacks!
Whether you are driving or flying to your destination, it's generally easy enough to pack healthy snacks.
You can pack a cooler with your favorite healthy proteins, fruits, and vegetables when driving. Get some good-quality protein bars, meat sticks, and nuts for those flights.
The last thing you want to do is not have any fuel for your body; that could cause you to go off the rails and want to eat everything in sight.
Stop at a local grocery store when you get to your destination!
Whether you want to avoid the food prep before driving or if you are flying and unable to bring food. Stopping at your local convenience store can allow you to grab what will help you maintain your goals when you get there.
Put your focus on something other than food!
We can often put unfair pressure on ourselves regarding the food conversation and "getting it right." Whether you are traveling or just trying to "get it right" in your every day, this one is key. Build a plan that you know will healthily fuel your body, then stop thinking about it so much. When food or weight loss comes into your mind, remind yourself, "I am eating in a healthy and nourishing way, and my body rewards me for it!"
And, when you are traveling, focus on what you get to do when you are away instead of food.
I believe the emotional side of weight loss is the most important to success and one we don't focus on nearly enough.
Request ahead if you can!
If you are traveling for purposes of an event, conference, etc. Check with the organizer to determine what the food options are. At times, you may have the opportunity to choose or make individual requests.
Ask your friends/family not to offer you treats, etc.
Let's face it; for many of us, family generally centers around food or some food event. I'm not sure about your family, but when we had people over growing up, there was always an offering of food and desserts. Your clarity in your choices and decision will help immensely in this area! You may choose to allow certain foods with your family that are outside your normal food plan.
I would practice caution about what you allow early on in your journey. Practicing good strong habits early can help you stay on track long-term. I've also found that it helps slow or stop the desire for certain foods altogether.
If you choose to stay on plan no matter where you go, let your family know you are following a new lifestyle with food and ask them not to offer you food, treats, etc. If they still do, tell them, "No, thank you!"
Research your options ahead of time!
When traveling to a new area, whether for vacation or work, the last thing you want to do is research restaurants that have healthy choices at that moment when you're already hungry.
Take some time and research options before you go. Planning may ease your mind in your entire food conversation.
Stop worrying so much about it all!
In the big scheme of things, if you're staying on track when you're at home, it shouldn't have a significant impact if you decide to have something off-plan while traveling occasionally. If you are a weekly work traveler, having a solid plan in place will help you stay the course.
But, if you add emotions like worry to the mix, it adds a new layer, both physically and emotionally, to your short and long-term possible results.
Bottom line, if you are traveling and choose to have something off plan, enjoy it, then get right back to your "on plan" way of eating. If you are not going to enjoy it, don't bother eating it, it will hurt you more than it will help.
You're worth taking the time and attention for yourself to improve your food and body conversation.
Keep reminding yourself of that fact every time you can!