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Mindful Eating on My Alaskan Tour

Discussion about the amount of food to expect on my Alaskan tour began the moment we boarded the bus.

I think it started because someone asked about food. At first our guide joked, “No, we’re just going to give you bread and water. You didn’t know it, but you signed up for the weight loss tour.”

We all laughed.

Then she said, “But really, we’ll be stopping for a picnic lunch today and have dinner at the lodge tonight. And we have tons of snacks in a basket on the back seat. Feel free to help yourselves.”

I laughed again, this time to myself. Just the day before I had posted about concerns with the amount of food to expect on the tour. Clearly I hadn’t been wrong.

I decided to take a quick look in the back. I wasn’t hungry, but I was curious. Sure enough, the basket overflowed with breakfast-like foods. (It wasn’t even 7 a.m.)

I thought about the food I had brought. Seems like I had prepared for nothing after all, except to silence the little voice in my head.

And for the most part that was true. We nearly always had easy access to food, or at least food we could bring with us on hikes.

I only ate from my food supply a couple of times, apart from the airports. One was that first day. Since I hadn’t grabbed anything from the breakfast basket, when our morning hike ran long, I ate some nuts and dried fruit I had brought. Another day, I misjudged how much to eat for dinner – in the sense of not eating enough – so I had some nuts and a Luna bar later in the evening.

Mostly, though, I ate enough at meals not to need a snack. It helped that the tour company was amazing about dietary restrictions. I also felt better on that front when I realized I wasn’t the only gluten-free, dairy-free person, and in fact our bus driver was gluten-free.

The driver was in charge of a lot of the food, and she was very sweet at our first picnic lunch. She came over and said with genuine concern, “None of our normal sandwiches worked for you, so we had to make up a special one. It’s on gluten-free bread, with roast beef, lettuce, tomato, and caramelized onion, and we have mustard if you want it. I hope that’s okay?”

I was quick to reassure her, “That sounds great!”

And it was. They also had separate tortilla chips (I guess most packaged potato chips have soy, dairy, and/or gluten), and gluten-free cookies – homemade, I might add. A nice touch.

Then the evening of our first day, the folks at the lodge left the cheese off my poached pear salad, gave me quinoa instead of rice, and sorbet instead of ice cream.

It was all excellent, and I deeply appreciated their thoughtfulness. Yet in a strange way, it actually increased the temptation to overeat.

After all, they had gone to extra effort to make something special for me. Shouldn’t I eat it all?

Although from observing the others on my tour, everyone struggled with how much to eat. It’s hard not to, when you have constant access to tasty food that’s effectively free, since it was already included in our tour package.

One person even commented at the end, “I feel like I’ve done nothing but eat!”

When I felt that temptation, I reminded myself of two things. First, I was on vacation, and I got to pick what and how much I wanted to eat. It wasn’t my job to make anyone else happy. And two, I had set my intention to feel good after eating so I could enjoy the trip. I wouldn’t be able to do that if I went overboard.

That helped me take care in my eating. But this isn’t to say I didn’t indulge at all.

For instance, our third night we went to dinner at Resurrection Roadhouse at Seward Windsong Lodge. I had looked at the menu online, and I knew I wanted dessert.

So I planned for it. Earlier in the day, I tried to get in as much walking time as I could. Then at dinner, I only sampled the appetizers, even though they were good: tortilla chips with hummus and salsa, and roasted Brussels sprouts. I also ordered a lighter main dish than I might have normally.

This meant I still had space for the dessert I wanted, the chocolate redoubt (chocolate cake, chocolate mousse, chocolate ganache, and crème brulée ice cream). Although I have to say it was bigger than I expected.

I didn’t know if I’d eat all of it. I decided to start with the part I wanted most, the chocolate mousse interior. Then I moved onto the cake and ice cream. I got most of the way through when I realized – I’d had enough.

It felt a little silly leaving the last few bites of cake, but I didn’t have any need to eat it. And it worked out perfectly because our guide had considered getting the cake but knew it would be too much for her. So she finished the last part, which was the perfect amount to accompany her root beer float.

In the end, as often happens for me on vacations, I ate more mindfully while away because I was hyper-focused on it. Only once did I feel like I ate too much, and it quickly balanced out later with some extra walking time and less at later meals.

Now comes the interesting part – settling back in at home and seeing if I can retain that focus. Stay tuned.

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