Solo traveling can help you be a more mindful and intuitive eater by helping you hone in on your own internal hunger cues as well as giving you the opportunity to completely focus on your experience.
Have you ever taken a solo trip? If not, I highly recommend it -- you learn so much about new places, different cultures, and yourself!
In June, I went to Vancouver B.C. for a friend's wedding. Since I was trekking almost 3000 miles across the continent, I felt like I should go for longer than only the weekend. So my trip was from Wednesday to Monday, and I had so. much. fun!
This was my first (and most certainly not the last) time I've taken a trip on my own. What was nice about it is that I got a few days of just me, then a few days with friends, so I got a mixture of solo & friend travels. The best of both worlds.
I had Wednesday, Thursday, all day Friday, and most of Sunday to do touristy things & adventure through the city, and the wedding festivities were Friday night and Saturday.
On my solo traveling days, I was completely in charge of everything I did. One of the beauties of solo travel is that you have complete control over everything you do, see, eat, etc.
That freaks a lot of people out, thinking about being the sole decision maker as well as doing things alone. The most common hesitation I heard for solo travel was 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!
Not only that but solo traveling offers so much. It 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 I think one of my favorite parts about traveling solo is that 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's a little more challenging.
Another great aspect of solo traveling is that it's also a great way to help you practice mindfulness, especially mindful eating. 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, I collected 5 of my favorite lessons I learned while traveling solo that have helped me become a more mindful and intuitive eater. Enjoy!
Mindful & Intuitive Eating Lessons from Solo Traveling
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 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. Every time I get a recommendation from someone that lives in the city, I have a pleasant dining experience.
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 trashcan, so you shouldn't fill it with junk that you don't want.
Have a Back-Up Plan
Things aren't always going to go as planned. You might get busy finding a donut shop because you have to celebrate donut day, and then realize as you take your second bite of the sugary fried dough that you are beyond hungry and need real food ASAP. It happens, not that I know from experience or anything...
Either way, you want to have a few things as back-up. Maybe that includes a little bag of seeds in your day bag. Or maybe you've scouted out a few restaurants you could visit that are around the area you will be in. That's how I decided to go to Nuba and totally hit the jackpot.
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 back-up plan(s) fails and you end up eating a less than desirable meal because you were hangry.
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 a jerk-face 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 isn't meant to sound condescending, but it's so important to eat when you're hungry. Obviously this isn't just while you're traveling, but there's no surefire way to ruin a trip faster than feeling sick/having a headache/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 traveling because that will drive you crazy (or it does in my experience). 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.
Avoid Centering Your Travel (or Day) Around Food
Y'all, I know how hard this can be, but try not to only think about what and where you'll be eating for every meal. I like to have one special meal planned per day. Maybe I'll have brunch plans one day or know that I'm going to the little hole in the wall diner that everyone raves about. After that, I like to see where my adventures take me.
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.
They might even let it slide that you have multiple selfies even if you are wearing a helmet (unknowingly on backwards). 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 (especially when it's way out of your comfort zone, like solo traveling or dining by yourself). I promise you'll surprise yourself at all the things "you could never do" that you actually find enjoyable!
Have you ever traveled solo? Have you ever dined without someone else? What helps you focus more on your food?