How to Use Food as Medicine

I used to have a self imposed rule of fasting during air travel. In other words, any time I was flying somewhere I would make that day a ‘fasting’ day. This seemed to make good sense as most destinations were either a conference or vacation or some other event that would likely involve all kinds of special eating occasions, formal dinners, buffets, catered conferences and meetings etc.

John Barban
Having some water cuz I’m feeling a bit dehydrated

So I used the ‘bookend’ diet hack of fasting the day before and after each trip (ie: the two days spent traveling to and from said destination)

BUT this system has fallen apart on me because the airline industry and air travel in general is becoming a horribly stressful and dehumanizing experience.

Air travel lately has become more stressful, and so bad that I loathe the thought of having to fly anyway. (Delta airlines are currently the worst offender for me and I will NEVER fly with them EVER again)

And this brings me to the point of today’s post, and that is this: Medicating with Food

Food and the act of eating food you like is an enjoyable and calming experience. And my last few travel experiences have been so brutal that I embraced the concept of ‘medicating with food’ during those days instead of fasting.

Instead of forcing yourself to ‘stick to a diet’ or pre-plan every day of eating to achieve a certain body shape/weight goal, I would suggest fitting the stress/hassle/discomfort level of the day to your food choices of that day.

Medicating With Food
Gelato! Better than any medicine!

I’m not suggesting you use this advice as license to go to a buffet every day because you have deemed every day of your life ‘the most stressful day ever’. But be realistic, if you know next Monday is likely to be a really stressful day for you and the last thing you want to do is think about food/dieting, then give yourself the green light to eat according to your stress level that day, go ahead and have something that’ll help you get through that day (just be mindful of the total dose, but go ahead and have those comfort foods that help you get through these lousy days)

To be clear, this doesn’t mean to eat as much food as possible and stuff yourself to the point of pain, but rather don’t cut yourself off from any specific food choices that day. if you feel likeĀ  a burger, then have one, if you feel like having ice cream then have it.

Having this psychological freedom to know that those options are there if/when you need them is likely going to help you avoid over doing it on these foods when you finally do have them.

On the other hand, when you’re having a low stress day and you’re feeling good and really on top of things, ride the wave of control and momentum and make that the day you really cut back on the calories and maybe throw in an extra workout.

The point is to match your energy and stress level with your strictness on dieting or cutting calories (if weight loss/maintenance is your goal)

You simply can’t be ‘on’ every day. Some days are just gonna suck, and those are the days that some chocolate, or ice cream or a slice or two of pizza are really gonna help you calm down, so you should totally allow yourself that flexibility.

Life throws you enough curveballs and bummer days as it is, trying to force yourself to ‘diet hard’ on those days could just drive you to snap!

Instead, allow yourself to ‘strategically medicate’ with food when you really need it.

For me it’s during air travel, I’m just a lot happier when I arrive at my destination if I can have some chocolate and fun food the days I travel.

What is your stressful/bummer days that you would like to allow yourself to ‘strategically medicate’ with food? Please share in the comments section.

John