There is a reason that the title of this post is in quotations. I have read many articles about what one “should” do about the eating situation on vacation. These “rules” often include suggestions like “eat only one heavy meal a day,” “order salad instead of fries when possible,” and “sign up for early morning yoga!”
While I think it’s wonderful that some work hard to be healthy during vacation, we have to remember that health is a holistic term, and that means it includes mental health as well. Vacations (and even staycations) are a privilege so critical to maintaining mental health. So I think that a part of that is abandoning the “shoulds,” and “rules” because these are the mental health pests that lead to guilt and shame.
Here are my “rules” for eating on vacation:
1. Order at restaurants and fill your plates at buffet based on what you know you will mindfully enjoy.
2. Go to your destination with a list of foods that are known to be particularly good in that particular place (I just went to Holland and Belgium for two weeks, hence this post. My list of foods included, but was not limited to: speculaas, Dutch pancakes, Dutch apple pie, croquettes, bitterballen, Belgian frites, Belgian chocolate, every beer…)
3. Eat well when you come home to “reset” your system (though I don’t agree that this should be an extreme detox or cleanse)
4. Do what you need to do to feel well when eating so much during your time away. For me, I need to drink a lot of water. For some, it means that you need to do a lot of walking.
5. Don’t listen to anyone else’s rules (I recognize that I’m rendering myself obsolete here).
Vacations are an important time to reset our batteries, and that might mean that we don’t follow the rules we conform to in everyday life. Just as it’s important to eat healthy most of the time, it’s really important to eat unhealthy at certain points and enjoy it.
Happy vacationing, staycationing, or whatever you need to do to abandon the rules and enjoy yourself.