Dr. Kim: Healthy Lifestyles are Portable – 5 D’S of Vacationing

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Written by: Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Kim Feinstein, RedMountain Weight Loss’s Behavioral Weight Loss Specialist

“Remember to stay on track with weight loss goals while on vacation and don’t abandoning your diet. A vacation is not permission to abandon your diet.”-Dr. Suzanne Bentz D.O., Owner & Medical Director of RedMountain Weight Loss

1. Delay
As you see your traveling companion(s) indulging in the local fare and alcoholic beverages, your cravings start to intensify. As the intensity of your craving builds, it feels like it will last forever. However, research indicates a craving typically lasts for about 25-30 minutes before subsiding. So, before you give in to your craving, I encourage you to delay as long as possible. If 25-30 minutes seems like eternity, start with 5-minute intervals and work your way up to 30 minutes. It gets easier the more you practice this!

2. Distract
While you are delaying, it is important to distract yourself with something pleasurable other than food! Try to do something that captures your attention and distracts you from the triggers. Some examples include looking at the beautiful scenery, or if possible, engage in a conversation with your travel companion.

3. Distance
While you are “delaying” and “distracting”, it is best to distance yourself from any food source. This will help minimize the likelihood of giving into the craving. So, see if you can excuse yourself from the table and/or go take a nice walk.

4. Determine
If the craving is still intense and the previous 3 D’s are not helping, I encourage you to determine, “How will eating make me feel in the LONG TERM?” We know that it will give you pleasure for only 20 minutes, before needing another “dose.” So ask yourself, “Is eating this in line with my vacation goals?” “Why is weight loss and weight management so important to me?” See if you can self-talk your way to success. You can use a mantra to help you stay focused. My favorite one is “I can do this.”

5. Decide
If all of the above D’s are still not helping and you must indulge in your craving, decide:

  1. How much am I going to eat? Will I eat the entire bowl of chips? Or will I have some?
  2. Where am I going to eat the food? Am I going to eat it in my pantry, car, standing up, etc.? Or, am I going to eat at a table and enjoy the experience?
  3. How fast am I going to eat? Will I stuff the food in my mouth rapidly? Or, will I chew slowly and savor each bite?
  4. With what hand will I eat? I encourage you to eat with your non-dominant hand (i.e., if you are right-handed, eat with your left hand and visa versa). This will slow you down and prompt you to respond to your craving rather than react to it with old habits.

Tolerating cravings will get easier with practice; and, by practicing in new situations and environments; you will further strengthen your ability to tolerate your cravings. Do not let your summer vacation and the possible related triggers derail you. Use the 5 D’s to enjoy your vacation without packing on the pounds.

Happy Traveling!


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