12. Boundaries and Food

Let's talk boundaries

Setting boundaries isn’t just about people. We can set boundaries around just about anything. And one thing that a lot of people struggle with is setting boundaries around food and their eating habits.

Mary talks with Stephanie in this interview about why we need boundaries around food and how to set those boundaries. Stephanie discusses her weight loss journey and how setting boundaries has helped her with her food habits.

Main Episode Takeaways

  • How to keep the motivation to maintain your food boundaries
  • Deciding what boundaries around food will work best for you
  • Our commitments to ourselves teach us that we can trust ourselves
  • How to navigate communicating our boundaries around food to others
  • Learning how to set food boundaries during Holidays and travel

Want to learn more about boundaries?

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Mary: Hey friends. I’m here with Stephanie and we are talking about boundaries today. Hi Stephanie. Thanks for joining us. 

Stephanie: Thanks Mary for having me today. 

Mary: Tell us a little bit about you. We’d love to meet you. 

Stephanie: Yeah, thanks for inviting me today. Stephanie Flanders Martin, and I am the founder and owner of Tree of Life Yoga Studio. I co-own the studio with my friend Whitney. And I came to yoga so many years ago, 29. And just my journey through the years continued to ebb and flow with the practice and I think part of my journey has been to figure out how I can teach others to move as they age, and yoga was that medium to teach people.

So that’s how I got to yoga and my long meandering journey through many years of corporate and corporate wellness and all the things that’s where I’ve landed and feel really passionate about helping men and women. Mostly there are women in my studios, but men are always welcome to use yoga as a medium as we age. 

Mary: Awesome. Awesome. That’s great. Tell me a little bit about your journey with boundaries.

Stephanie: So many. So I think my biggest journey with Boundary has been my journey with food. And the struggle with food all of my life. It’s a real thing. I come from a Midwest family mm-hmm. Right? And I’m sure everybody’s heard this right clean plate club. 

Mary: Yep. Clean Plate Club. 

Stephanie: Yep. Can’t leave the table till you belong to the Clean Plate Club . And I think in some ways that was good, right? But in other ways I think it put in my mind, there was some damaging long-term thoughts. Sorry mom, I still love you. But I think there was a lot of then kind of that layering of things that never left. . And as I continued to grow up then other things started to creep in. Like I would self-soothe with food or I would, you know, I’d have a stressful day and food was, you know or I’d be bored or all the things right. 

And so I would just fill in with food and then I’d, you know, start to gain weight. Well then I’d be so self-conscious of what I look like or my weight and that the whole body shaming for myself and I think society. And then I would go on these diets or whatever, and so all of my life I would ebb and flow and ebb and flow in these, you know, kind of self sabotaging, lack of boundary around food, lack of commitment to myself almost is what it almost feels like or felt like and still feels like, right? I just have to really keep that in check. And at one point I had gone through a very difficult divorce. It was in 2006, five and six. And I was really struggling in my marriage and I lovingly say I ate my way through the process because it was the only thing that made me feel good was just that you know, dopamine hit from, okay, that feels good. And I’d keep layering that on. So I had no boundaries around food. Zero. 

Mary: Yes. And so many of our listeners can, I’m sure, relate to that. I can relate to that at different points in my life as well.

Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah. And it’s, you know, there’s, there’s a lot of amazing resources out there. And when I hit this wall this time, I specifically said to myself, I’m not going to do anything that’s super dramatic, because it doesn’t work for me when I say I can’t have this, or I can’t have that, or I can’t have this, that’s all I want. All bets are off. Right? That’s all I want. So I chose in 2007 to start a new journey. And my journey was I’m going to eat healthier. I’m going to go to the gym and these are non-negotiables for me. These are boundaries and walls that are up and firm and there is nothing that can take that time away from me. And I was, it was really important to me to keep those boundaries. Yeah. 

Mary: Can I pause you for a minute? Tell me a little bit more, when you said you hit that wall, what was the turning point for you when you were tired of that and you decided you wanted to have better boundaries with food? 

Stephanie: After my divorce, I’d purchased my own town home, very first time I’d owned a home by myself. And I was really trying to heal from the divorce and I was trying to move stuff and walk up the stairs and I had become so heavy, I’d weighed 250 pounds. I had become so heavy I could hardly make it up the stairs. And I thought that is it. I’m throwing the white flag up. Right? That’s the gauntlet, that’s gotta be it. So that’s when I really said enough is enough and it’s either this and I really had to dig into my why because I think this is what’s stopped me in the past from keeping these boundary walls up is, what’s my why?

Why am I really doing this? It’s not so that I look great in a two piece bathing suit because Lord knows that ship has sailed years ago. After two children that’s just not happening. And many surgeries. But what my why was, and it still makes me teary, is my children. I wanna see my children grow, I want to be there when I get married, I wanna meet my grandchildren and if I don’t take care of me in this moment of choice. And set these boundaries, I’m not gonna be here for them. 

So that was kind of the line in the sand, and that’s when I started to kind of turn the corner and made little changes. And again, those changes were, I am just going to eat better. I’m going to track everything. I know it doesn’t work for everybody, it works for me. I had to write everything down I was putting in my mouth because then I was making the connection of holy cow, I didn’t realize. Right? Instead of having that open bag of Oreo cookies and every time you walk by taking one, by the end of the day, I’d look and I’d be like, 10 down and I’d be like, I didn’t even realize right? So by writing everything down that was kind of the start of the journey. I made the commitment to go to the gym every day, and it was very embarrassing to me at the weight I was at, but I said, I don’t care. This is not about anybody, but me. 

And then my brother passed. And it was an unexpected death and it was very, very difficult. I mean, just the emotions and me being the oldest having to kind of help support my parents and just all the things, right? So going through that didn’t set me back. I was really proud of myself, but I didn’t move forward. I kind of stayed where I was at. I didn’t require the boundaries to be as strict at that point, but I didn’t go off the rail. And after I’d kind of gone through about six or seven months, I felt a turning point again. I had lost, I think about 10 or 12 pounds before that, and then just stuck right up or down a few pounds.

And then I said again like, okay, Steph, you’re still not where you need to be, this is not a healthy place for you. This is a line in the sand. You made this choice. This is why you made the choice. So again, I just started down the journey. I started incorporating in shakes because they were easier for me in the morning. And then I would have a healthy lunch and a healthy dinner. And it was just kind of an easy breakfast grab and go coffee, shake. It was easy. The other thing I had to really be aware of to keep my boundaries firm and easy for me was I could not make anything hard. Like I had to prep everything, I had to be aware of what my week looked like. If I knew there was a party coming up or a birthday event or something, right, I had to say, okay, so I can do really well these days. That day of the event, I need to either eat better in the morning or I need to say it’s gonna be my grace day or however, but grace day for me doesn’t mean go off the rails again, right? Where are the boundaries around those days? 

So I would set very specific boundaries for myself, and then it was really up to me to self-monitor and a lot of questioning of myself, right? In the moment of choice, am I going to choose to stick to my plan, stick to the boundary, or am I gonna throw caution to the wind? If I go throw caution to the wind, that could mean a setback. And I just said, my children are my world, my children are my most important thing, so then I’m choosing to not honor them.

Mary: Right? So if you say yes to this, what are you saying no to? 

Stephanie: Right. 

Mary: Right. And sometimes we think about if we say no to this, what are we saying yes to? Which I like the converse of that. If we say no to this, what are we saying yes to? Right? So if we say no to, you know, continuing to eat unhealthy food, right? Then maybe we’re saying yes to living longer and connecting with our children and our families, and the opportunity to continue to live and see things that we wanna be a part of. 

Stephanie: Right. And I think as part of that journey, the food then became the easiest thing to manage because I wrote everything down. It was non-negotiable for me. If I didn’t write it down, then I was afraid that I would almost become a closet eater where I’d be like, sneaky. Oh, if I don’t write it down nobody will know. Right? It’s just for me, but it is just for. So that was that self-talk that I really had to have about the boundaries I had already set. So the food became the easier part, and then the shift with just overall exercise was hard at first because I had gained so much weight, it was difficult. Right. And I was working two jobs to support my kids at the time. So when do I have time to make, you know, room for another thing? I mean, the food already really took a lot of time because I was very aware of what I was packing and eating and prepping and shopping for those things. Right? Now it’s easy. You can instacart everything healthy you need right? Comes to your door, I don’t even have to go, I don’t have to have those moments of, Ooh, that cake looks really good, right? It’s like no impulse buying because I only order what I know. And I would say for boundaries, if food is an addiction for you, I know it costs a little money, but I have to tell you, Instacart has really been helpful for me.

Mary: Okay. How has it been helpful? 

Stephanie: Well, because I only order what I need and I’m not in a grocery aisle staring at all the choices. I am being very intentional about this, I’m going to get Romaine, I’m gonna get the things for salads, I’m going to get, you know, whatever that looks like.

Mary: Absolutely. Yeah. 

Stephanie: So I think that has become easier for me. I think there are still trip wires for me. Right? Parties are a trip wire for me, because I love food. I have acknowledged the fact that I love food. Right? And there’s nothing wrong with that. There’s a lot of things I can do without, but boy, I have a sweet tooth like no other sweet tooth. So I have to be intentional about when I go somewhere that I will allow myself this much of a treat or you know, this is the boundary I’m allowing to either move or all day I’ve done really good, so that’s what I’m okay with for that moment. And then again, I just had to do the same with the activity. It was like, okay, well I know it’s hard but hard gets easier if you keep moving. And that’s then I think the next layer of what I had to be intentional around for my boundaries. 

Mary: And how long did it take to get easier? 

Stephanie: Quite a while. I would say at least until I’d lost about 20, 25 pounds. And then once you get that momentum and you start seeing, you know, that. that scale continue to drop. It’s not even the number on the scale at some point, it’s how you feel. Like, I feel so much better at this weight and then I would lose a few more pounds and I feel so much better. And then what I would do to remind myself was I would lift up, you know, 10 or 20 pound weights and I would say, oh my gosh, that’s what I was carrying. Right? And try walk up the stairs with that extra 10 or 20 pounds is such a good reminder of, look at how far you’ve come. Look at where you are, and you know, what choice will you continue to make to keep yourself in that space. 

Mary: Yeah. And those results, you can celebrate those results and that keeps your motivation going. 

Stephanie: Right. Yeah. And then the other trick though is because it’s a food boundary, what do we go celebrate? How do we celebrate? 

Mary: I mean, cake? 

Stephanie: Or go out to eat. Right? I had to get rid of all the food type celebrations. My celebration for me has now become, I get to get a facial or get a massage, or if I do really well, like it’s some kind of a non-food related reward. It can’t be like I get a slice of pizza and a cookie, because now I’m back into the rewarding myself with something that’s been a hard thing to get rid of or to eat less of. Because those are two of my favorite things. 

Mary: Cookies and pizza ?

Stephanie: Love pizza. I love cookies. I love cake. Yeah. But pizza’s not necessarily a bad food. I would say this. Don’t label anything bad. It’s the size of the portion and what you put on top of it. Because I still eat pizza. I just eat smaller portions and I do light cheese and all veggies. So you know, there’s just ways to adjust. That’s the other thing I would say around food boundaries is when you think that you can’t have something, then it makes it much more difficult. Whereas if you say, I’m going to limit this until I reach my goal, or I may need to limit this for the rest of my life because it just doesn’t, maybe joll as well with my body. That’s when you’ll have more success long term. 

Mary: Right, yeah. And I think it’s also, there’s some, like, depending on the person, right? There’s some people who, works for us to say like, you know, I’m going to decide not to put this food into my body maybe for this period of time. Right? And then sometimes it works for us to be like, you know, under these conditions, I’m going to allow myself to have this type of food that I desire. Right? Whatever that is. There’s not a right and a wrong, I don’t think, but it’s whatever’s gonna work for you. That’s like in alignment with your values, that’s gonna help you get the reason, the goal that you resonate with. 

Stephanie: Yeah. For sure. Yeah, I think that’s a real important part of it, is what works for you. I have several friends that the thought of journaling or writing down everything they eat just makes ’em crazy. I’m like, that’s okay, because for me it works. I’m just sharing a tool that works for me. What works for you? Do it, great. No judgment here, right? It’s all about what works for you. For some people, no alcohol, right? Just because alcohol has sometimes the effect of holding water, can cause weight gain. You know, there’s all those things. Or some of us can have a half a glass once a week and just say, that’s what I’m choosing to do. You know, it’s all about your body chemistry, that there is no one size fits all.

Mary: Yes, I agree. I agree. The idea of boundaries in food. I guess what I would encourage people to move forward with is to just decide. It’s about deciding and being intentional about what kinds of foods you want to partake of and what kinds of foods you don’t want to partake of, and under what conditions you’re going to have this and that. Right? And just being more aware and doing it on purpose instead of just eating whatever’s in front of us or available to us. Just being a little more conscious of it. 

Stephanie: Yeah, I think the one thing it comes down to too, Mary, if relate it to, it’s a commitment to myself that I’m making this decision, right? However, if you also think about, it’s easy for me to cancel an appointment to myself or to not do something for myself. It’s really hard for me to do that for somebody else. I would never, you know, cancel it unless, God forbid, right, it’s an emergency or there’s an illness or something. I just wouldn’t cancel something that I had committed with someone else. However, it’s really easy to do for yourself, and that’s why the boundary and the firm commitment to yourself is the most important when it comes to food. And just like you said, make those decisions, whatever’s best. And keep that commitment to you because this is about your commitment to self. 

Mary: Yes. And I would argue that our commitments to ourself are always the most important. That it’s not just around food, but it’s reflective of that commitment in a variety of different aspects of our lives and that that’s what our boundaries are. It’s about what I choose to participate in, and what I choose not to participate in, what I’m going to do, what I’m not going to do. It’s not about controlling other people or being accountable to other people, and I love that our commitments to ourself are what teach us that we can trust ourselves. And so my question for you is, how are boundaries with food showing up for you now? So I love that you have this, you know, story that’s a part of your life that you learned to have boundaries around food. How does that show up now? 

Stephanie: Well, I still track. If I start gaining a few pounds or I get off track, I go right back to my tracking and try to figure out where it is I’m off track or where I’ve made different choices. It is, as we age, much more difficult. It’s interesting that I was talking with my daughter the other day, she’s in medical school and I was sharing with her, I think it’s, you know, my metabolism and, you know, things have shifted and changed and she said, mom, it’s an old wives tale. There’s study after study after study out there now that show diet and exercise, just stay with your plan, go the course, and maybe instead if you feel like you’re stuck or you feel like you know things are shifting differently, try something new as far as an activity. And see if that isn’t what it is. 

And you know, for the most part, I think I probably would say 95 to 98% of my day is pretty healthy food. But I still have a cookie every day. Full disclosure, right? I love cookies, I love treats. But I plan it in my day. So that’s the important shift is I know if like I went out for a coffee date, and I’d kind of pre-planned, I’m gonna have a latte and I’d like to have a bakery treat. But when I got there, I ordered the treat that looked like the healthiest choice and that I would enjoy because it’s about enjoying it too. I cut it in half, I had half, and I put the other half in the bag and brought it home to share with my husband. So not that I would you know, eliminate something but then I’m just more intentional about, Hey, today I’m gonna go for a coffee date and I really would like to enjoy a treat. It’s the holidays. And then knowing tonight I’m gonna have salad. I love salad. I’m half rabbit. I love salad. Like more than anything in this world, I could eat it for breakfast. 

Mary: I love salad too. Actually, my children tease me. They’re like, mom, what are you gonna have, salad?

Stephanie: Yeah. I love salad. 

Mary: It tastes so good. I think the more I eat of it, the more I crave it. 

Stephanie: Yeah. 

Mary: So what’s the hardest part for you? 

Stephanie: The hardest part for me is still being at a party or whatever and not getting back to an old habit of just going over to the tray of goodies or the treats or whatever. What I really try to do, and it, I would say it works 95% of the time. I’m not perfect, but I really try to just kind of walk over and see what’s available. And I always choose raw veggies and fruit if that’s available first. I went to an event not long ago and they had fresh ravioli and so I had some veggies, I picked up a small piece of garlic bread and I had two raviolis, and I thought, perfect, right? This is like, great. I’m really happy with my choices. 

And I think that’s the other thing is be happy with your choices after you’ve made the choice. And not beat yourself up, and have the mindset of this is not about, I’ve just made a mistake. It’s about I’m making an intentional choice. And then making the shift for the next meal or whatever if you need to. Now in that choice I felt really comfortable with my choice because I only had two little pieces and a little piece of garlic bread, some veggies and I felt satisfied. It was fantastic. I think I just had a bottle of water with it. 

Mary: Nice. 

Stephanie: Yeah. I really wanted the wine. However, I said, well, if I’m gonna have the pasta, it was a negotiation, it was a self negotiation. And again, you know that boundary of, okay, I can trade off, right? I can have this, or I can choose to have this. I’m gonna choose to have this. And I can have wine another time or you know, whatever you negotiate for yourself. But that was what I did. 

Mary: Absolutely. So when we are not following our own boundaries, and that’s food, what does that look like? 

Stephanie: Oh man. I’m an emotional eater. And I’ve been through a very difficult year. So for me I feed to self soothe and not tracking, that’s a first trigger for me, right? I have to track, even if it’s informally right? I just kind of know, oh, I had this, this, and this. But that’s a trigger for me. Because then I start down the road of, well, yesterday was fine and I’m okay, so then I might do it the next day. And the emotional eating is the trigger for me.

Mary: Hmm. And when you indulge in emotional eating, how does that impact you? Like what’s the problem with that?

Stephanie: Oh, well, I feel horrible. Like physically I don’t feel good. 

Mary: Yeah. I think that too, like when I eat junk, I feel like junk. 

Stephanie: Yeah. So I feel horrible. I sometimes will wake up the next morning stiff, like my joints are like, that didn’t settle in well. I feel like my tummy is just like uncomfortable. I just feel in general, a whole body discomfort. And that’s that reset for me. One day, okay. Two days. If I start getting into a pattern and it’s been a tough year, so for me, there’s been several of those days, but then the reset comes and I do really well, and then there might be a trigger and, you know, and I get out of the pattern and then there’s the reset. So I think being okay with my reset is what’s most important to me. And then if I feel like I need help, I reach out for help. I’m not afraid to ask for help. 

Mary: Awesome. What does that look like? Who do you reach out to? What kind of help supports you? 

Stephanie: My husband is my biggest cheerleader. It’s hard to talk to your spouse about, some of these things, right? Even though they’re your best friend and whatever. But you know, food is a very personal thing for me. And so it’s a hard conversation to have, but we have such a great relationship that I can just say, you know what? I just feel like crumb. I just feel like, ugh. And I know I’m just making some bad choices. And I love my husband because the first thing he always says is, how can I support you? What do you need from me? Right? It’s never about anything but support. 

I recently went to my doctor and had some blood drawn and all the things and a few lab results came back that I wasn’t quite as happy with. And she said the same thing. She’s like, well, what are you doing? How can I support you? What kind of plan should we put in place? And it felt really good to just have that conversation like, she was in my corner too. So I think just having those, you know, oh, even a friend right? Phone a friend. My sister is one of my best friends, so just phoning her and just saying, Ugh, help, throw out the white flag.

So I think those are the best ways for me to get support. You know I’m sure some of you out there are Grey’s Anatomy’s fans right? You have your people and Meredith and Christine you know, they were each other’s people. Just have your people and whoever your people are, just know that there’s no walls there, that you can just, no matter what, have those conversations. And food can be a very personal thing. It can be a very, you know, triggering thing for some people. 

Mary: Yeah. I like how you mentioned the difficulty around social engagements and food. What about like family and culture? How does that show up and how does that impact your boundaries? 

Stephanie: Well , I have a mother still from the Midwest who her love language is food. She doesn’t quite know what to do with me because I’m a vegetarian and she is not. and she is, you know, when I come, she’s like, I don’t even know what to cook for you. And I said, don’t worry about me. Right? I think if you know somebody else’s love language, or your family, if that’s their thing. I still really have some firm boundaries around food. I might honor my mom by having a little something that she made, like a little treat or whatever. But knowing that I have to just stop at that. Again, it’s that, trigger for me. 

Mary: I mean, I think in my family of origin, I’ve kind of joked before, like, you know, if there’s one thing we do well together, it’s eat. Like most of our gatherings are centered around food, right? It’s like, let’s meet for family dinner or let’s everybody meet up at a restaurant or we’ll go to someone’s home and you know, there might be an activity, but there’s also food around the activity, which I love. I love that part of my family. And I am very much a part of like, let’s have food and let’s gather around food. And I think for people who are trying to navigate their boundaries around food, or for people who are trying to change their boundaries around food, it can be particularly difficult to stick to the boundaries they’ve set for themselves when it’s a way that like culturally, we connect with people.

Stephanie: Yeah. And it’s some people’s love language, right? That is their happy places. Like my mom has holiday plans. She just can’t wait to start cooking and she’s already baking and all the things. 

Mary: And I think I do too. Like, when I think of holidays, I think part of it is baking with my daughters and specific recipes that we have really only on specific days of the year. And birthdays with you know, a birthday treat or my kiddos will have a good performance and without fail, they will say, can we get ice cream on the way home? Like it’s always ice cream after a performance, cake on a birthday, right?

Like, it does feel like a lot of our celebrations have food attached to them. And so I guess what works for me usually is I want to, I choose to, I don’t love cake actually, so I don’t usually have cake, but I want to be able to celebrate with people and I wanna be able to have food with my family. And so I just choose like, okay, like we have birthdays coming up and there’s going to be a treat, right? But I will not allow myself to have sugar every day. That doesn’t work for me. But if people did, then I want them to make that an intentional decision. 

Stephanie: Yeah. No, I mean, I still do. I’ll go for the holidays, but I’ll be mindful and real aware of how much I will allow myself. And it’s a personal choice, right? Like, I’m gonna allow myself a couple treats every day. I’m fine with that. My mom is a cheese lover. She’ll have cheeses from all of it, and I love cheese. I’m gonna be mindful of how much I have. So it’s not about denying myself. That’s why I said I don’t take things out of my diet. I may manage or keep them smaller. So I think that’s important too. I don’t always choose to say no. I may choose to just have smaller amounts or maybe I do choose to say no. I don’t know. It just depends on the moment. If I look at what’s gonna happen next week when we, land at my mom’s house, I know it’s gonna be there. That’s her love language and, and I would just never wanna hurt her feelings, but I will manage my intake, that’s the bigger thing for me around my boundary is the volume. 

Mary: Okay. That makes sense. Yeah. So what if her feelings are hurt? Like what if someone prepares food and we choose not to eat it because we have a commitment to ourself, not to indulge in that type of food. And then maybe their feelings are hurt. Then what?

Stephanie: Yeah, I mean, I’ve had these conversations with my mom. I just, I’m so grateful that you made that mom, thank you so much. I’m really working on my health and wellness right now and I really appreciate it. I just, I need to be really cautious for me right now. I’m really trying to watch what I’m enjoying. I think she’s always been fine with that because she respect s our goals and our wishes and whatever. I just, I can always see that little disappointment that it didn’t get finished or whatever, but I’ve seen over the years, that’s soften a little bit. 

Mary: Nice. Nice. I have in the past said I’m really looking forward to tasting this. And I wanna let you know ahead of time, I’m just gonna enjoy one bite because I’m super curious about it, but I can’t like stay on track with my goals if I eat the whole serving right? Kind of thing. And then I just give myself permission to have like that one bite. And it feels really good I think, to me at least, to like honor that. And also had times where I’ve struggled with like inflammation, right? Like I have some arthritis in my knees or you know, I’ve got some autoimmune stuff. So I have had times where I’m like, you know, I’m just not eating flour these days. So I appreciate this, or I love you so much, and you know, I can have sandwich without the bread, or I can have this, but not this kind of thing. 

And I think that people are generally understanding especially if it’s not like I’ve made this specific thing for you, but if I know that someone’s gonna make something specifically for me, then I’ll give ’em a heads up before I get there. And I think that some of it is just around like having that open communication and making it about me, like, this is what I’m doing for me, this is my choice for me and I’m honoring you and our relationship. I appreciate you honoring the relationship that I have with you and the effort that you’re making here and still maybe saying no to what is my boundary, which might be the food here. 

Stephanie: Right. Yeah. Agreed. 

Mary: I love it. I love it. Well, Stephanie, what questions do you have for me? 

Stephanie: How do you navigate traveling and eating? Because that’s, you know, I travel a lot and that’s when I wanna enjoy all the things. Like you go on a cruise, there’s unlimited foods available. And not that we have to overeat, but that’s sometimes a trigger for me too is like I’m going to India coming up and I wanna try all the things, right?

Mary: Yeah, that’s a good question. I actually just got back from a cruise and I remember thinking on like day five, coming to dinner and thinking, I’m kind of tired of eating. Isn’t that funny? Like what else are we gonna do guys? 

Stephanie: Yeah, I understand. I’ve been on several cruises. 

Mary: So it’s a good question. like so traveling is stressful for me. I’m not a particularly good travel. I get anxious on airplanes and I don’t love crowds or waiting in lines like I struggle with some claustrophobia and so traveling can be stressful time for me, which I notice also want like kind of soothing foods, right? Like I want something salty or I want something sweet, or I want something snacky, right? Because I kind of have this like nervous energy around traveling. But that’s like just on like the travel day. So if it’s like a day that I’m flying or a day that I’m Ubering or you know, things like that and road trips… a whole other situation, right? Like road trips are, I think all about the junk food. 

Stephanie: Right.

Mary: So like actual travel days I think are the hardest. And the only thing I have found is to make a plan ahead of time, right? And just to plan ahead. Like, this is what I intend for food for the day. And then I give myself like an 80% A, what I call an 80% A. Like if I stick to this plan about 80% level, then I’m giving myself an A for that. Like I’m gonna give myself some grace for that, right? Because I don’t wanna shame myself for not doing things perfectly, ever. Right? The other thing that I know you love to travel like to different countries and different cities and I do think there are things around like trying food and the place where you are. So what are your thoughts about that? How do we navigate that?

Stephanie: Well, I think sometimes it’s the cultural thing you wanna be careful of. Like, I do not wanna offend my host. Right? So it’s like, oh, how do I navigate this? And again, for me, I struggle with it a little bit because I don’t wanna offend anybody, but I do wanna try new things, and then how do you navigate that? Right. I will say my husband and I were in Egypt and we went, and I’m really like, this is my firm boundary. Like I do not drink water if I don’t know where it’s come from or if it hasn’t been bottled like no ice. That is non-negotiable because I got really sick when I was in Costa Rica once. Never again. So I am really firm on that. 

Well this guide wanted to take us to this juice bar. I don’t know what their hand washing situation is. I come from the food service business, so I was nervous about that. I didn’t see filtered water. Maybe they were using it, maybe not. So then that made me nervous and I just had this internal struggle of like, how do I navigate? It was really uncomfortable for me. So I took a few sips and I smiled and we were talking and I took a few more sips and I just said, I’m sorry, I’m so full. I just had a meal and I’m just really so grateful for this gift. Thank you so much. It tastes delicious. I’m just so full. And then I just kind of let it go because I didn’t want to offend them, and he seemed to be fine with it.

But those are the things that I get anxious about when it comes to traveling and food, because I do wanna respect the host and what they might have gone through. But then because I’ve worked in a restaurant for so many years, it’s all the things I know behind the scenes that I can’t undo from my mind. 

Mary: I love it. I love it. So I think you handled it beautifully and I think that you get to decide, right? And that’s what the boundary is, is that you get to decide like, am I going to drink the juice for a reason that I like? Or am I going to not drink the juice for a reason that I like, or something in between? Like, what’s gonna resonate with me here? I don’t know that there’s a right or wrong. I don’t think that we should, should on ourselves or each other about this. I think that you just get to decide, my encouragement is really for people to be intentional about the decision. 

Stephanie: Yep. 

Mary: Yeah. Awesome. Well, Stephanie, thank you so much for talking with us today. I know that there are listeners who can relate to boundaries with food, and especially around this New Year time, people will all be talking about, you know, their plans around food and their goals around food and health. And I think it’ll be really relevant for listeners. So I really appreciate you being here.

Stephanie: Yeah. Thanks for inviting me, Mary. Appreciate you. 

Mary: All right, take care.