Hone in on your own internal hunger cues if you’re traveling alone. Here are 5 ways that solo traveling can help you be a more mindful, intuitive eater by focusing on what’s most important: your experience.
BY: MEME INGE, MS, RDN
Have you ever taken a solo trip? It’s an opportunity to learn so much about new places, different cultures, and yourself.
One of the beauties of solo travel is that you have complete control over everything you do, see, and eat. Some people may freak out over the thought of being the sole decision maker as well as doing everything alone,
With the most common hesitation being the fact that you’d be eating alone.
Yes, you do not have a designated dining companion, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make friends. That also doesn’t mean that eating without someone is bad. It’s actually pretty awesome!
Solo traveling can expand your horizons, boost your self-confidence, help you stick to a budget, and gives you the ultimate freedom to make all the decisions yourself. But one of the other perks of traveling solo:
It really helps you hone in on your mindful and intuitive eating skills.
Solo travel is great for helping you to focus on your own internal cues for when and what to eat. You get to make the choice on when to eat. You get to make the choice on where to go. You get to make the choice on what to eat.
This is all blatantly obvious when you are traveling solo and have absolutely no one else to sway your when, where, and what. And guess what… you can do this even when you are around others, but it tends to be more challenging.
Another great aspect of solo traveling is that it’s also a great way to help you practice mindfulness. Without other dining members to distract you, you can completely focus on your meal. You can take all the time you want to really savor your meal and experience. That being said, here are 5 lessons that I’ve learned while traveling solo:
1. Immerse Yourself Into the Experience.
Focus on the experience: the atmosphere, the aromas, and the beautiful food you have in front of you. Instead of using your phone or a book (or people) for distraction, use this time to take in everything.
Really enjoy your food before eating it. You have five senses; see if you can use every single one when you’re dining. Take a moment to relish in the fact that you are on vacation and think about how nice it is to treat yourself (even if it’s for a bowl of oatmeal in your hotel room).
Allow the locals to give you their recommendations. They know the city best which makes them pretty credible to give meal suggestions. Most people are proud of their city and want visitors to get the best experience, so they give the best recommendations.
2. Play Favorites.
You want gelato for lunch? That’s cool. You want a big salad for dinner? That’s cool, too. It’s completely up to you, and you can eat exactly what you want without anyone’s outside opinion.
On the other hand, if you don’t like something, why are you eating it? Seriously. Why? If you taste something and aren’t in love, don’t feel the need to eat it. Your body isn’t a trash can, so you shouldn’t fill it with food that you don’t want.
3. Have a Back-Up Plan.
Things aren’t always going to go as planned. You might get busy finding a donut shop, and then realize as you take your second bite of the sugary fried dough that you are beyond hungry and need real food ASAP.
Either way, have your back-ups ready. Maybe that includes a little bag of nuts or seeds in your day bag, or you’ve already scouted out a few restaurants you can visit around the area you will be in.
Try to plan ahead just a little bit, and you’ll be prepared when things don’t go exactly as planned. And don’t feel guilty if your backup plan(s) fails and you end up eating a less than desirable meal because you were ‘hangry’.
4. Satisfy Your Hunger.
Speaking of ‘hangry’, do you know when you’re hungry? Does your stomach growl? Do you feel nauseous? Do you start shaking? Are you cranky to any living being that comes within 15 feet of you?
Whatever it is, be sure to know the signs. And when you’re hungry, eat! This of course applies even when you’re not traveling, but there’s no surefire way to ruin a trip faster than feeling sick, having a headache, or not being able to enjoy the sights because you’re so hungry.
It’s a little more challenging to find nourishing foods while traveling, but it can totally be done! Focus on getting some protein and a veggie or fruit every time you eat. Don’t try to “eat healthy” while you’re vacationing because that will drive you crazy. Just try to eat more nourishing foods when you’re hungry, and add in a few treats to enhance your travel experience, and you’ll be good.
5. Avoid Centering Your Travel (or Day) Around Food.
This can be hard for many folks, but try not to only think about what and where you’ll be eating for every meal. Have one special meal planned per day, then see where your adventures will take you.
Focus your travels on experiences and adventures, and you’ll have a lot more to talk about and remember when you get home. No one really wants to hear about (or see photos of) every single meal that you ate while traveling. But people do want to see the photo of you walking across a giant suspension bridge, or a photo of a peaceful lake you found in a park. You won’t remember the way every single dessert you ate tasted, but you will remember the exhilarating feeling you got when you went to a concert by yourself in the pouring rain, with no cash, and lived to tell the tale.
You are missing out on so much when you don’t try new things, and that includes going way out of your comfort zone to dine and travel alone. I promise you’ll surprise yourself at all the things “you could never do” that you may actually find enjoyable!
Adapted from the original article.
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Meme Inge, MS, RDN is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist based in San Diego. She shares approachable, nourishing recipes to prove that living a healthy lifestyle can be budget-friendly, delicious and fun. Get to know more about Meme at Living Well Kitchen.