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How to Practice Intuitive Eating when Traveling

I know many people travel throughout the summer, and we sure have! We still have some more travel on the agenda, but not for the next month. So until then, we’re enjoying some downtime in our new home and new town. 

I think it’s important to remember intuitive eating is a practice, which means it’s something we are constantly working on and learning about.

It takes time to learn how to implement the principles into your own life, and that’s exactly what my workbook about hunger, fullness and simplifying intuitive eating goes into. 

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While the general consensus may be to practice intuitive eating in a “safe” environment (because after all, it’s a “new” way of eating), I would argue that traveling in a new environment is the perfect time to embrace the practice of intuitive, flexible eating. 

Deepdish Pizza in Chicago

Is It Possible to Eat Intuitively When Traveling?

Going somewhere new often means a break in routine, which can translate to a change in your normal way of eating.

While this can be challenging and perhaps even anxiety-provoking for some of you (a list of common questions here!), it can also be freeing and a fantastic opportunity to listen your body.

I’ve talked a little about intuitive eating on vacation in a similar fashion. 

These tips will help you learn to practice and embrace intuitive eating while traveling so you can lose the stress and make the most of your travel experience.

Related: The Best Intuitive Eating Resources and Quotes

Be Adaptable

Part of intuitive eating is recognizing that not every meal or snack has to be “perfect.” Sometimes, we ignore or misread hunger cues, which may lead to eating beyond a comfortable fullness level.

Other times, we may eat meals on the go, making a mindful and peaceful approach to mealtime difficult. We may be hungrier on some days, requiring us to eat more food, while on other days, we may struggle to get enough protein in.

But, we know diets don’t work and there has to be another way. 

Tacos at Torchys Taco in Austin

Not striving for “perfection,” but instead, being fluid and adaptable, demonstrates the trust and knowledge that our bodies can handle these acute mismatches.

Remember: Our bodies are smart and resilient!!!!

Focus On The Excitement of Travel

Charleston, SC sunset with a sailboat in front of it
If you’re allowing yourself to embrace the excitement of travel, part of that enthusiasm may be tied around trying new foods and restaurants.

Going in with an open mind can decrease the stress associated with mealtime and help accentuate the travel experience.

For example, give yourself permission to eat pasta in Italy, even if you’re not normally a pasta eater. Or, try an authentic lobster roll if you’re visiting Maine, or grab an ice cream cone at the local ice creamery.

I always get an authentic sausage when I’m in Boston at a Red Sox game.

Have a tremendous food craving? Honor it!

Italian sausages at Fenway Park

These food experiences will enhance the overall travel experience and help build internal confidence that your body can handle foods that you don’t ordinarily eat (and you may even enjoy it).

Pick the satisfying foods, the ones that you haven’t allowed yourself to eat before. 

Tater tots with cheese

After all, if you don’t have to cook, clean up or do the dishes, you have more time and energy to enjoy the food and travel experience.

Recognize Your Hunger

While learning to acknowledge and honor hunger is a key principle of intuitive eating, this one is just as important for traveling as it is at home.

There are so many things out of our control when we travel (especially with a baby!)– transportation delays, navigating changing scenery with kids, different sleeping/napping schedules and variable meal times, to name a few.

While it may not be feasible to be near a restaurant every time hunger strikes, it is a prudent practice to pack snacks and keep food you like and enjoy available.

Wella Bar as a snack when traveling

The last thing you want to do is go into a meal overly hungry, which takes you away from tasting and enjoying the food and experience.

Keep an emergency “snack bag” available with some of your favorite, nourishing snacks to bridge the gaps between meals. You don’t want to go into a meal too hungry where you can’t focus on the whole experience. 

Variety of Snacks When Traveling

Acknowledge Small Victories

Traveling and vacations can be a temporary escape from reality. If the idea of practicing intuitive eating for a full week sounds intimidating, can you try some of these principles for two or even three days of your trip?

Maybe you let your partner or the person you’re traveling with pick a restaurant and you challenge yourself to go with the flow. Or don’t look at the menu ahead of time for the restaurant you’re going to.

Cocktail in Boone, NC

Ask the waiter/waitress what they’re known for and have trust in that process. Challenging, but how good do you think you’ll feel if you accomplish it and put yourself out of your comfort zone?

Small steps add up, and just getting the ball rolling can impact your habits and can build confidence going forward.

Related: 5 Ways to Start Intuitive Eating

In short, traveling can be an opportune time to practice the “gray” of intuitive eating, and move away from the rigidity and “black and white” rules that you may be used to.

Intuitive eating doesn’t have to be something you put on the back burner. Instead, it can be something you take with you.

Do you struggle with intuitive eating when traveling or do you think it’s an easier environment?

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  1. I completely 100,000% resonate with this. I love being flexible and learning to have new exciting food experiences while traveling. 🙂 It’s a wonderful challenge.