Eliminating vacation munching

I’m not one to simply relax on vacation. On this trip, in addition to getting in some good hikes, I wanted to work on something I’ve never been able to master: Not eating between meals.

During past family vacations that’s been a huge problem. At our house I tend to avoid buying sweets and snack food, and I’m careful not to leave overly tempting foods setting out in plain view. But when we get together in the Smoky Mountains with my side of the family, there’s always a ton of decadent goodies on the kitchen counter. .

After snacking like crazy during our whirlwind visit to see our oldest daughter in South Carolina, I resolved to do better once we got to Tennessee. I fasted all day before our evening arrival, then enjoyed a guilt-free pulled pork sandwich with southern green beans and spicy coleslaw at Bennett’s Barbecue in Gatlinburg.

Thinking I might be onto something, the next day I decided to allow myself two memorable restaurant meals, provided I ate nothing the rest of the day. I had an omelet and pancakes at the Log Cabin after our morning 4 ½ mile hike to Alum Cave Bluffs, and a wedge salad with grilled shrimp during an early dinner at the Cherokee Grill.

This pretty much became my routine all week. I’d have a banana with peanut butter before our morning hike, eat a tasty late breakfast, then hold off until dinner, knowing each meal on vacation tends to be memorable, whether it’s at a restaurant or not.

With each passing day my “no snacking” project gained momentum, especially since I mentioned it to others to help hold myself accountable. Given my “abstainer” tendencies, it was much easier to simply not snack in the first place rather than nibble on something with the misguided idea that I could then shut the eating impulse down. All week I marveled at how much crap my relatives were shoving into their mouths, knowing I’d likely be doing the exact same thing if I let myself take that first slippery-slope bite. Instead of feeling deprived, I felt superior.  It was just a mind game, but it worked.

As I suspected, this wound up being a nonscale victory. I didn’t weigh any less upon our return, because I was getting plenty of calories from larger-than-usual meals. But it gave me confidence to know I’m capable of not snacking between meals. (In the past, even during my 90-pound weight loss, I snacked constantly but on low-cal foods.)

I like the way it felt to not give in the nervous impulse to chew on something. No doubt the calm feelings I experienced during a  couple of fasting experiments this spring were a big help here. This feels like a skill I can build on by planning tasty but lower calorie meals that are worth waiting for.


After a 4-mile hike on the Appalachian Trail, the kids crawled up on the monument at Newfound Gap to enjoy the view.  With all the trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Appalachian Trail is often overlooked because it doesn’t necessarily lead to a scenic view like a mountaintop or a waterfall. On this trip we met some folks who were hiking the trail from one end of the park to the other over a five-day period. Sounds like fun!

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2 Responses to Eliminating vacation munching

  1. Andy says:

    Sounds like your learned a valuable lesson. It is difficult when there are cookies and ice cream in the house. The best can do it wait to have breakfast at work.
    I found that if I are at home and then went to work, I was hungry again by 9, or so. Now I only eat one breakfast per day.

    • tischcaylor says:

      Smart move there. It’s always cool to find ways to improve your eating performance. (Not quite as exciting as improving your running performance, but still.)

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