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Vacations And Road Trips

There are a lot more fun things to do in life and on vacation, than eating. How many times have you gone to a celebration, or on a vacation, and not enjoyed, maybe not even remembered, anything but the food? When you think back about your trip to Alaska, you want to remember the majesty of the glaciers, rather than the cream puffs you ate while passing them.

There’s a whole world of non-food activities to enjoy. If you travel abstinently, you won’t come home 10 or 20 pounds heavier, guilty and miserable. You can enjoy the movies, the beach, and the sights without food. As you become lean and strong, you’ll enjoy more activities – like tennis, jogging, or ice skating.

Think about visiting Twelve Step meetings while you travel. You can get nationwide lists of meetings on the web or from your Intergroup. You are most likely in a place you will never be again. What a great time to be anonymous!! It may give you freedom to interact in a meeting in ways you might be afraid to at home.

It’s safer to travel with someone who supports your recovery program and food plan. Talk to your traveling partner ahead of time. Tell him or her what support you think you will need. Set up a warning system so you can let him or her know when you are beginning to feel uncomfortable.

Take some recovery material with you. Take the good pieces – the ones you love and use daily; then add a new piece you’ve been wanting to read.

You used to trust food to get you through any situation, now you need to learn to trust your Higher Power and other people, and your 12-step program. How can you do that effectively?

You will not be able to follow your food plan as perfectly, as easily, or as comfortably as when you are at home.  Accept this and don’t beat yourself.  Abstinence is an attitude- not a food plan!! The food plan is the tool you use to maintain your abstinence. There’s a difference between not being able to get all the veggies your food plan suggests, and eating an ice cream sundae.  Realize that some adjustments need to be made, and you can still be abstinent on a trip.

What are appropriate adjustments? You need to plan ahead and talk with your sponsor, dietitian or others you trust, about how to handle some of the difficulties that may arise.

Here are some principles for travel:

Plan Ahead.  Find out all you can about the food available on the various parts of the journey.  Hotels and restaurants will mail, fax, or email their menus to you.  Airlines will tell you the food to be served on your flight, and offer special meals.

Don’t let yourself get ravenous before a restaurant meal.  If it will be more than 6 hours between meals, move a metabolic forward to cut your hunger.  If you don’t have a metabolic to move, call your dietitian or sponsor for help.  Or more wisely, discuss and arrange these before you leave home.

Meals and snacks on your food plan can be rearranged and eaten in any order.  Do not break off pieces of a meal or snack and attach them to another meal.  Choose a meal or snack based on the next appropriate meal available.

Be sure to eat every 3 to 5 hours while you are awake.  Eat the next appropriate meal.  If you are traveling across time zones, you may eat two breakfasts – that’s OK.  If you travel for long periods, you may even need to eat an extra meal one day – that’s OK.  If you are awake that long, the body will need the extra food.

Arrive early enough to the restaurant to be comfortable. Relax. Take your time with the menu. Think. Pray.

Remember that 20% of the cost of restaurant food is the food itself. The rest is location, ambience, servers, chefs, and cleanup people.  You deserve to be accommodated; this is what the cost of your meal reflects.

You do not have to be perfect!!  If the meal comes with a food you know will trigger your cravings, discreetly and graciously send it back and order a different meal.  If the proportions are wrong, there’s butter on the potato, or too few green beans, pray over it and let it go.

Think carefully about your travel plans.  Walk through each meal.  Where will you be and what will likely be available?  What meals will you need to eat while traveling to your destination and back?

On airlines:     Order special meals – diabetic, gluten free, vegetarian, kosher, etc.

Or perhaps it is safer to plan to take part of the meal and buy the rest in the airport; then you won’t need to worry about food service on the plane.

In autos:          Where will you stop?  What will you need to carry with you? What will your travel partners want to do about stopping?

On ships:         What food is available on board and in port? When you sign up for an excursion, ask about water, and what foods will be available.

Think about carrying your starches.  Portable starches might be:

cereals:            1 oz cereal = 3 oz starch

rice cakes:       2 cakes = 4 oz starch

Mary’s Gone Crackers

Think about carrying metabolics:

cheese, fruit, hummus, nuts or nut butter, yogurt, etc.

Pray before you go and while you are there.  Ask your Higher Power to provide protection for your food plan and direction for your choices. Or ask for an Angel to be put in charge of your food for tonight.

Plan for your return before you leave:

Plan for a friend to pick you up for a meeting soon after you come home.

Plan to stop for perishable foods on the way home, or ask a family member to buy some for you, and put it in your refrigerator before you get home.

Freeze a meal for your first night home.

Offer to chair your favorite meeting the week you get home; nothing will be more reliable to keep you focused and abstinent.

Now Enjoy!! A vacation is a special precious gift. You are traveling to see new places and do new things and enjoy a time of freedom from your daily responsibilities. This is precious and special.  Make it be a time of enjoyment and fun, as well as freedom from the obsession with food.

Have a wonderful trip!

Blessings to you,


2 Responses to Vacations And Road Trips

  1. Cindy L. Salsbury June 30, 2021 at 3:21 pm #

    DearTheresa, I just Re-read this article and realized how many of these suggestions you have imparted
    To me over the years, and how much has stayed with me. thank you. Cindy L Salsbury

    • H. Theresa Wright July 16, 2021 at 9:19 pm #

      You’re welcome, Cindy! And you have worked really hard on this process!

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