Eating and Exercise During Family Vacations


Beth was recently off on another vacation. And again learned something new about her eating. Which serves well to illustrate that becoming a mindful, intuitive, healthy eater is a journey. Or maybe a better description is an adventure — that fits right in to having fun with eating, especially on vacation. The good news is, that’s a key part of a healthy relationship with food!

food exercise vacationI recently returned from a family ski trip to Utah. When it came to maintaining my healthy lifestyle on vacation, I figured skiing all day, every day, kind of covered the exercise portion of my routine.

As for the food, here’s what happened.

We ate sandwiches three times a day!  Really. We started the day with muffins or bagels, had sandwiches for lunch and then sandwiches for dinner.

Mindful Eating Challenges On A Family Vacation

My sister and I did all the shopping for the trip but our list was compiled to satisfy the rest of the group, all men, including two teenage boys. I held back on any objection and did as I was told, buying the items on the list. Besides, I wanted to be part of the festivities, part of the family gathering, not the oddball eating a balanced meal mindfully.

After I got home, I woke the next day and high-tailed it down to the kitchen to prepare some great options for the day to avoid the binge-producing cravings that I had experienced in January after returning from a visit to my daughter in Colorado.  I snacked and ate well all day and successfully managed my hunger.

No bingeing this time. Good job, right?

I guess, but further reflection had me questioning why I didn’t just eat what I wanted to eat while I was away with family. I did the shopping; I could have easily bought food on my own, outside of the allotted budget, and prepared it separately. I could have avoided all the anxiety about “getting back on track” by never getting off track!  Instead, I came home feeling awful physically, like a walking, talking loaf of bread!

What gives? My relationship to food; that’s what gives.

What is food in that setting? It’s celebration and camaraderie and communion and, well, love. To foster those emotions that surround a family gathering, I didn’t want to “remove” myself from the atmosphere by preparing a different meal. I didn’t want to extricate myself from the circle of love that is a family meal. Right?

Rubbish!  Food is food!  It’s there to nurture your body, promote your health and please your palette.  Sure, a family gathering is about love and a meal is the perfect setting for the embodiment of familial celebration, but the food isn’t the glue – the people are. The love is. The humor and memories and story-telling are at the heart of it, not the pulled pork.

The Over-Importance Of Food In My Life

3-steps-nuture-body-vacationWhat was I afraid of? Ridicule? We’re a large Italian family, my brothers have been ridiculing everything from my clothing to my hairstyle for years, nothing there I can’t handle. Dissension from the ranks about not getting what Aunt Bethie got? Again, the large family motto of “eat what’s in front of you” would have shot out of every adult’s mouth before any of my nephews could finish the whine.

No, it was my own relationship to food that dictated my behavior. It was the insidious over-importance that I’ve given food all my life.

No more. All done. I’ll eat what I want during family vacations and try not to feel like it’s affecting the celebration.

It might be a welcome change for those clowns I’m related to; they’ve run out of insults for my clothing, my hair and my skiing form (I do not stick my butt out!). Making fun of my food choices might just liven up the party even more!


We pulled together a checklist for your next vacation…

3 Steps to Nurture Your Body While On Vacation

1 Forget what everyone else is eating.

2 Eat what you want.

Eat whatever will make your body and mind feel good.

3 Accept whatever decision you make.

If you detour from your usual eating regimen, that’s okay – and normal! If you decide to eat different meals than your friends and family, that’s okay too!

We encourage you always to eat to make you feel good, not to appease others or because you feel you need to eat in a certain way in order to participate fully in a certain activity. That focus is about mindfulness, which helps you make more supportive and therefore healthier decisions during vacations and any other time, too.


One response to “Eating and Exercise During Family Vacations”

  1. Naomi Teeter says:


    I have to say that I think your issues had less to do with your obsession with food and more to do with people pleasing. The way your article is written, it certainly sounds like you wanted to “keep the peace” with the men and also didn’t want to be judged as weird if you ate healthy while they ate crap. This is a form of people pleasing and self-esteem issues. I don’t want that to come across harsh or make you feel like it’s a terrible thing. We all have our weaknesses (and strengths).

    I used to think I was obsessed with sugar, but it turns out I only became obsessed with it when I became rigid with my meals and never allowed myself to have any… ever.

    Practicing sticking up for what you want and your food values is important. Otherwise, people pleasers get walked all over. But also practicing self-compassion and resiliency when you make a “mistake” or cannot control the circumstances is important too. You can always start again tomorrow!

    Thank you for a very thoughtful article!

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Beth Turchi

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