Franziska is the founder of Be Happy Abroad. She's a coach, passionate about supporting internationals. She has experience of frequent business travel, and after an initial conversation about what she does now and her experience, we're going to talk about nutrition, intuitive eating more specifically, which is a key element for anyone, but especially important to pay attention to when there is a lot going out.
Welcome to Holding the Fort Abroad, the podcast for expats with traveling partners. My name is Rhoda Bangerter. I'm a certified coach and the author of the book Holding The Fort Abroad. In this podcast, I interview men and women who live abroad and have traveling partners so that we can all benefit from their wisdom and experience. I also invite relationship experts to apply their expertise to this topic. Today my guest is Franziska Bauer Luxhøj. I've pronounced that right? I will let you check the spelling.
Franziska Bauer Luxhøj:
Yeah, thank you, Rhoda. I'm so happy to be here. Thank you for having me.
Thank you for being here, for sharing a bit about your experience and what you do now, and also talking about intuitive eating. So I'm looking forward to hearing what you have to say about that. So first of all, can you just tell me where you're from, where you're living now?
Franziska Bauer Luxhøj:
Yeah. In an expat world, I'm more than minority, having grown up mono culturally. I really grew up in Austria. We didn't even travel that often. We traveled sometimes to Italy and within Austria, but I've always had this fascination for cultures, for languages, and yeah, this curiosity to open my own perspective, to see beyond the horizon.
And yes, as soon as I had the possibility I did that make my reality. So I did three exchange semesters abroad while studying, and along the way I met my Danish husband. So I'm now married to Dane. We have two children who grew up with three languages. We live in Denmark, my husband's country. So in that context, I identify as a love pet mostly. And we have together also been in the Netherlands in a third country. That's neither his nor mine. And in the Netherlands we also had our first son. And the second son is born here in Denmark. So there was some travel and back and forth and but now we are living in Denmark and don't have a plan of moving and are experiencing them intercultural life here.Rhoda Bangerter (:
That's what we were talking a little bit earlier, right before I hit record, is the fact that there are, a lot of multiculturals who are coaching internationals and people who live abroad. But it’s so important to also have someone who has that monocultural perspective. Someone who's grown up in the same country, because I don't know what that feels like. No, I honestly do not know what that is like. And then like, it's like the toothpaste out of the tube. Once you've lived, once you living in multicultural, you can't put it back. You can't go back and live a monocultural life.Franziska Bauer Luxhøj (:
No, true. And that will also be true for my children. And what I see now also, especially with my oldest, he's now 10. And I just see this exploration of identity. Like who is he? Where is he from? Which culture does he mostly identify with, with which language does he feel comfortable in? And because he goes to an international school here in Denmark, his strongest language is English. And just a few days ago he said to me that, but I don't feel so comfortable speaking Danish because I'm not as good as speaking Danish as the other kids, but his Danish is flawless. We live here. And so it's really mostly an exploration and a feeling he has for himself. Where then I see my role as a parent to strengthen his self-confidence and to coach him through that also to not necessarily say ‘Oh, but that's not true’ because that doesn't help him. But really like, explore where does that feeling come from? Why do you think that and what does that do to you? And then, try to shift it together with him.Rhoda Bangerter (:
Yeah. And to make sense of the different aspects of what makes him really, isn't it? What elements and which ones he wants, which ones he feels more comfortable with, which ones he wants to encourage, which ones he wants to develop. And to sort of explicit it for him, because I think sometimes growing up multicultural, you know that you have different cultures and different nationalities in your life. Although cultures, it could also be generational or professional. But what if your parents are military, then you know you're gonna have the military culture that that comes through. But I think realizing, oh yeah, there's different groupings of people who will have different common behaviors. Even if not everybody in that group does the same. But there will be some commonality in saying ‘Oh, okay. So I've got a foot in this one, a foot in this one, and a foot in that one. So I'm gonna be taking bits from each one’, and then deciding. And some people decide to just go with one, and just go, you know, I'm just gonna go with this bit. And then others will take a piece.
So you see this in the international people you help as well, right?
Franziska Bauer Luxhøj:
And with the Happy Abroad Summit and the Happy Abroad Club, you write there are challenges and so you are providing a space where people can find solutions and tools.
Franziska Bauer Luxhøj:
Exactly. Yeah. So, well, throughout the years, I've also been struggling myself quite a bit because I mean, I grew up monoculturally. So some of the things were very like, okay, that's how we do things. And then being confronted with something else, of course, puts a question mark to, ‘Okay, there are different ways and which way resonates most with me?’ I think that's the key question because it's never a question of right or wrong. There are, as one of the speakers at my recent Happy Abroad Summit said, there are several versions of ‘right’. It's just a different ‘right’. Because when it's about culture, there is no right and wrong. It's just different ways of doing things.
But then finding, okay, so what's the right way for me? Because in this multicultural world, we become a conglomerate of several cultures. We draw inspiration from several cultures, from several habits, and then we just become our own. And that's difficult. It's a difficult process to re-identify. So, who am I? What am I here for? What's my purpose in life? And that's what I help my clients with, with Be Happy Abroad. And what's also kind of the backdrop of the Happy Abroad Summit, where I invite different speakers and experts in the field to provide their perspective. And I think that's what's so valuable for internationals to hear those different perspectives, different experiences, and then realize that they're not alone with this.
So that's what I hear most often in the Happy Abroad Summit. Often those are people who have never heard that there is a thing like expat coaching, coaching for internationals. And then they come to this event, which is a free event. I guess many of them sign up because it's free. It speaks to them because it's happy abroad. And they think, okay, I have nothing to lose. I sign up. And then when they're there, they realize how much value there is in hearing all these different perspectives and realizing, oh, all of this is normal. Everything I'm going through is normal. I'm not alone with this.Rhoda Bangerter (:
Franziska Bauer Luxhøj (:
Because I believe that deep within, most of us want to be happy. And when I say happy, I really mean like a deep fulfilled way of being and a well-balanced life. Because I know there is a lot of criticism out there, also big about that happiness is something that's shallow, but for me, it's not, for me, it really goes deep. And it's about knowing who you are. Having roots somewhere, knowing who you are, and then being able to grow from that, from that place, and really having that well-balanced, fulfilling life That you want to have. So there is a lot of self-leadership, personal responsibility for your own wellbeing in the term happiness for me.Rhoda Bangerter (:
Okay. Yeah. Oh, that's really interesting. I mean, I ventured to guess, but it was interesting to, I wanted to hear it from you, to know your point of view and why you chose that. Do you remember like one of the ways in which you were confronted maybe in one of your first trips, or maybe not even one of your first trips? Cuz even when you're experienced, sometimes you get confronted.Franziska Bauer Luxhøj (:
I think my first culture shock and multicultural experience was actually within Austria, because I grew up in Innsbruck, which is a small town in the western part of Innsbruck in the middle of the Alps. So there are a lot of mountains. And my leisure time in weekends was skiing. I always went skiing. Sometimes I would even go to school in skiing outfit and then come skiing right after school. And then I moved to Vienna for studying. And Vienna is just, I mean, it's not a huge city when you look at it compared to other cities in the world, but in Austria it is. And like a quarter of the population of Austria is in Vienna, which is a leftover from Emperor Times, where Vienna was the capital of a much bigger area. So I think that's what makes Vienna so big compared to the size of Austria nowadays, it’s is just completely different. Like, Vienna is completely different than Innsbruck. And I think that was my first, and I was not prepared for that. I was absolutely not prepared for that, to enter this different environment. And also I was 18 and I started studying and all of a sudden I was on my own. I didn't have my family around and I had to find my own way. So I think that was the first time where I was confronted with, with the kind of change and transition that we experience when we move abroad.Rhoda Bangerter (:
Yeah. When your landmarks change, not only physical, but just everything around you, everything you count on changes.Franziska Bauer Luxhøj (:
Yeah.Rhoda Bangerter (:
Yeah. Well, the first time I experienced it was actually before kids. And back then I always joked I had moved to his country and now he's gone during the week. And it was kind of a joke. But there is always a small truth, a serious truth, in all jokes. So I did not feel great about that. Like living in Denmark. And then he was gone at that time I worked, so that made it a little bit easier. And I didn't have kids. That also made it a little bit easier. But yeah, there was a time where he was first in Germany from Monday to Friday and then in Norway from Monday to Thursday. And so I was very much alone in his country. When we lived in the Netherlands together, it was a little bit easier because there, he only had day trips.
Sometimes he would come home late, but there were only day trips. And then upon moving back to Denmark, there was more frequent travel again, where he had to go to different countries because he was responsible for all Denmark. He often went, it was just one or two nights, but still he was gone. And it was very unpredictable. And I know we talked about this unpredictability in our conversation we had for this year's Happy Abroad Summit, Rhoda, that that also makes it hard, even though I was not as alone as many others are. But there was just like, I couldn't know beforehand when he was gone because sometimes it would also show up last minute and then there was a business dinner here and an extra appointment there. And yeah. So basically kind of planning on your own.Rhoda Bangerter (:
So is that what you ended up doing? You just said, well, I'll plan and if he's there, he's there. He is not there. He is not there. How did you kind of…?Franziska Bauer Luxhøj (:
No, actually I really insisted like for a long time that we have an updated shared calendar and it actually worked out quite well for us then. So it's like an electronic shared calendar where he would put things in and then sometimes one of us would forget to put something in, but usually it worked well. But yeah, they were last minute emergencies every now and then where we had to kind of last minute plan or where one of us, usually me, had to cancel something.Rhoda Bangerter (:
Yes. There's a very, very specific set of challenges for unpredictable travel. And I think you've named a few, you know, difficulty in planning and changes in dates or you plan something for the family, but then it falls through and just constantly this flexibility that the partner whose home has to kind of display. And thank you for inviting me to speak at your summit.Franziska Bauer Luxhøj (:
It was a pleasure to have you. Thank you.Rhoda Bangerter (:
Because for you, it's an important topic, right? Why is it so important for you? What would you say to people that were living this? Because it's a message that you wanted to put outFranziska Bauer Luxhøj (:
With the split family situation?Rhoda Bangerter (:
Yeah, and frequent travel.Franziska Bauer Luxhøj (:
Well, I mean I've experienced some of it myself, but I also see even more from other people around me who are living this even in a more intense way. And it just often means that this person who is responsible, who is holding the fort abroad, as you call it, this person just has to say no to a lot of things they would like to do or they would love to do, or like taking care of themselves or also putting their career on a backseat for a while. And if you're not going into this consciously, talking about it, well first reflecting for yourself what is okay for me, what's not, what do I really need for myself in order to feel happy in this situation? And then also talk about it with your partner. If you're not doing that, there is a big chance that a lot of resentment builds up. And then what, yeah. Nothing good comes out of this for the relationship, nor for the kids, for the family. And it's just really, really stressful. And I think in general, in life abroad, but especially if, if there is this specific situation where so much extra stress is put on both partners and the children, there are some extra requirements. It's just so important to be able to connect with yourself and really know yourself very well, to take care of your own needs also.Rhoda Bangerter (:
Thank you so much. That was beautifully put. I'm so glad I asked the question. Cause I think in that there's the acknowledgement that maybe you have to say no to things. Maybe you have to readjust, maybe you have to be more creative in being able to do something, or maybe it's gonna take longer. So instead of taking two years, it'll take five or, you know, to take the long view on it. And also that it adds extra layers. And also that sometimes most people are not prepared for it. And even, I must say, I knew that we were gonna live abroad, but I didn't know he was gonna be gone so often. A lot of people are not prepared and you just slip into it and then you're like, but I can't cope. What’s wrong with me? And you're like, no, no, it's not you.Franziska Bauer Luxhøj (:
No, exactly. That's back to normalizing the problems, as I said before. To be aware and to find the right resources. And I think some people, some experts, some internationals stumble upon these resources by coincidence by seeing a Facebook post or an Instagram post where they see some kind of an offer that they can join. And then in that context they realize that what they're going through is so normal and that it's not them, nothing is wrong with them.Rhoda Bangerter (:
So intuitive eating. Can you tell us like how you got into it? What it means, and I'm always looking for resources that people can apply that doesn't take more time but actually will either enrich their lives or make their lives simpler. Or actually help them with something that…as you know, I know for myself that if I don't eat properly, it's just a disaster. Like literally I can hardly walk because of my arthritis.Franziska Bauer Luxhøj (:
Maybe let's start there, because food is such a basic in life, we need good food. Like there are a few basic needs. We need the right food, we need the right amount of sleep, we need the right amount of movement in order to function, in order to feel energized and have this energy to care for our family and to handle life. Just the simplest that just to handle life, we need proper nutrition. Now, not only food, but nutrition, like also mental and emotional nutrition. The way I got to intuitive eating, actually I stumbled upon the concepts many years ago already. That was still in the Netherlands, but I never investigated deeper.
Then really when I got more into it was when my little one, who is now soon two, he was five months old, I think I saw an advertisement of an intuitive eating course training by a German lady offered. And that really kind of got me hooked on the concept. I took the course first and then I went on to take the training. So I am actually now also an intuitive eating trained coach. Why I think this is so important is that because many of us do use food as a way to deal with things, and that can be in both directions. Some stop eating when they're stressed and others eat more or eat unhealthy, eat mindlessly, eat next to watching TV or like doing other things on the side, eating in between. And all of that does not give our body the proper nutrition that it needs. It does not nourish neither our body, soul, nor our mind. And I think that's what makes the concept super interesting for me because it goes so much deeper than just food that we put in our mouth. There is much more to it. So it's really about reconnecting with our bodies, with our minds, realizing what needs do we have, and then find quote unquote correct ways to fulfilling these needs and not fulfilling the needs by quickly putting something into our mouth. And I think that's often something that happens that I either drop or start eating when we actually have other needs that might be mental or emotional needs also.Rhoda Bangerter (:
Okay. So you said it starts with recognizing our needs. So you don't mean like our food needs, you mean our all our needs?Franziska Bauer Luxhøj (:
Yes. And then being able to fulfill these needs, and when I look through the list that training gave us a list of what are needs we have. So they categorize it in three categories. It's the physical needs, the mental needs, and the emotional needs. Physical needs are very much like those are, if you look at the Maslow pyramid, it's the basic needs like safety and sleep, rest, drinking, eating, going to the bathroom, all those are physical needs that our body has.
But then the mental needs, and here, so many of them are challenging when we move abroad. So for example, mental needs, integrity, authenticity, and those are concepts that are questioned when we move abroad because we have to adapt to some way. Then maybe we don't feel like ourselves. We ask ourselves, okay, who am I in this context? And that is stressful. And then to handle the stress. Often emotional eating is a way to handle it. For many people, not for everyone. It's definitely not relevant for everyone. But I think this awareness and this checking in with your body and being aware is relevant for everyone.
And I think when your partner’s away a lot and you're abroad, there's that authenticity. Like, is this what I want? I mean, there's a lot going on in your head. And you're right, oftentimes when life gets intense and all these basic needs kind of sometimes go out of the window. And the other thing I wanted ask you is like, what do you think? I think that you can get away with it in your twenties and thirties. You can get away with not sleeping well. You can get away with not eating well. But what I found out, and I wish I'd known is like it catches up with you. Then in your forties you're like, oh, crumbs, I have accumulated bad habits. And not taking care of my physical and emotional needs. And then it catches up with you, it later on in life.Franziska Bauer Luxhøj (:
Yes. Definitely. And I mean, one aspect of it is weight because half the weight that we want. But another aspect is also how we feel. And then movement also comes in. How much do you move your body? Are you active? Do you have energy and the fitness to go through your days with ease? And that again, requires a lot of realizing your own needs and then putting boundaries around those needs and craving your own like me time, okay, now I'm going for a walk for half an hour because that's what I need right now. Or right, I need 10 minutes on the yoga mat right now. And then the house will not get vacuum cleaned or the dinner will not be cooked yet, but I need these 10 minutes. So for example, just really being In tune with what you need and then making space for it.Rhoda Bangerter (:
So what bit has to do with intuitive eating? What bit has to do with eating?Franziska Bauer Luxhøj (:
Hunger can be different things. One of them is the hunger that comes from the stomach when you really are hungry. But then there are also different forms of hunger where, for example, the emotional hunger is really important in that context. I haven't mentioned the emotional needs yet. One of them, for example, is belonging. So everyone has the need to belong. And that's one of the key challenges in life abroad. We lack belonging. And that's emotional hunger. It's an emotional need. And if we can't get it fulfilled in the right ways, we might fulfill it in different ways. And that's where eating becomes often a solution to a problem. But where it shouldn't be the solution.Franziska Bauer Luxhøj (:
So intuitive, you need to say, okay, I need to figure out is this an emotional hunger or a hunger hunger? And that's where your intuition comes in to try and figure it out. And I always get emotional as you were talking, because I'm thinking a person moving abroad, then their partner's traveling and is away. So you've got all the upheaval of the move with the loss maybe of identity, of social support, of belonging and all those that may stir up and like, you know, it can trigger this kind of emotional hunger that you wanna fill with food. But then your partner's away. So you've lost touch, maybe you feel like, oh, he loves or she loves the work more than me. And then there's so many other needs that then spring up. I think, and it’s such an interesting angle. It’s really, really interesting to look at it through that angle. How does a person go from there? What do you do once you… just find a way to fulfill your need first?Franziska Bauer Luxhøj (:
Of course. It's recognizing that need, really being in tune. What is that need? And then maybe having in a moment where you don't necessarily have that need, then maybe brainstorm and make a list of how could I fulfill that need when it shows up so that you have a toolbox ready for when for when you need it.Rhoda Bangerter (:
And maybe it works as a bank account as well. It's like, if I'm full, it's different than if I'm running on empty already and then something happens that takes it even more away and then I'm running on like minus.Franziska Bauer Luxhøj (:
Yeah. And for the eating part, like this is the part where it is specifically about the eating, where you're tuning in with your body, where you're first checking, am I really physically hungry? So the first principle is eat when you're physically hungry. And if you notice, oh no, actually I'm not. Then go out and explore, okay, what else might it be? Where might this hunger come from? And sometimes it also comes from seeing something delicious, like from the eyes or from the nose. You smell something delicious, then you think, oh, I'm actually hungry. There might be mouth hunger. So you have maybe the need to feel something cold in your mouth or something crispy. Or sometimes it's just a feeling that you get in your mouth. So there are different ways to satisfy that and to fill that hole that you are feeling without actually eating.
So the first principle is really eat only if you are physically hungry. The second principle is choose what truly satisfies you. So really feel in, and choose something that you know tastes good, that you like. Because then it's also fulfilling. Because if you eat something that's not only half fulfilling and that's only half satisfying to you, you might continue eating and continue and waiting for that fulfillment. But you will never get it. And also something that satisfies your body like that, you know, that would be really good for my body now. But not necessarily checking off the calorie list, but just something where you think, oh yeah, that would be a good thing right now. The third principle is to enjoy slowly and mindfully. And that can be such a challenging thing. That's what I'm, I think that's the one I'm struggling most with still, because sometimes it's just, I don't know, in between meetings, logistics, family logistics and all the things we have to do to actually sit down and only eat, doing nothing on the side. Not even reading. Ideally you wouldn't even read while eating, which I'm guilty of reading while eating.Rhoda Bangerter (:
I was talking to someone the other day and she said, you actually sit on the floor so you're connected to the ground and you do not talk. So I'm like, whoa, that would be tough for me,
Okay. What's the fourth principle?Franziska Bauer Luxhøj (:
So the fourth principle is to stop eating when you're comfortably full. And I think that's another thing that me, for example, I'm personally becoming better at it. And just if I'm full, just leaving the rest for later or sometimes also throw things out. I've really stopped completely to finish my child's food.
That's a big for moms
It is, exactly. But because that finishing children's leftover, that's usually not very mindful. It's usually just in between the table and the dishwasher. Oh, I'll just quickly finish what's on this plate and then I'll put the plate in the dishwasher. So that breaks several of the principles, I would say. But I really like those four principles because in some of the literature about intuitive eating, you also find 10 principles and then it becomes so complex. But I really like these four because they're hands on and they kind of guide you through the whole cycle of eating. So you feel into your stomach, am I actually like, is my body my stomach? Is it empty and am I actually physically hungry? Then it's about what you choose to eat. Then it's about how you eat, like the process of eating. And then it's being in tune with yourself. When do I stop eating? So it's very approachable, hands-on, manageable and in principle easy to follow. But then of course it's still also challenging to live up to those four principles. At least most of the time. But I think it really pays off in the end because it just avoids overeating. It makes us feel better. I think that's the big win about this.Rhoda Bangerter (:
And it makes our real needs, it fulfills our real needs. Like then we end up, like, I often find I'm eating cuz I'm tired. I’m like ‘Ooh I'm so tired, ah just a bit of chocolate.’ And I'm like, why did I do that? I just need to go lie down for a bit, you know? Or I've overdone it and I actually need to stop. So it’s so important.Franziska Bauer Luxhøj (:
Or sometimes when we are tired, actually that's two of the physical needs also on the list. One of them is rest. So yes, take maybe 10 minutes rest or oxygen, open the window and take five deep breaths out the window where you have, unless you live in a huge city with a lot of smog, but
Mm-Hmm. So are you taking clients right now? And what's the journey with the client?Franziska Bauer Luxhøj (:
Usually with intuitive feeding, we would first do an analysis, which sometimes is also identifying, okay, what are you eating patterns, where do you feel you could improve? And then there are also different eating personalities. So the intuitive eater is kind of where we want to get to because that's the person who really can tune into their body and fulfill the needs. But then there are also different other like the overeater and careful eater, but in a really like obsessed way kind of. And then the professional dieters or there are different types of eaters. So we would identify that because then there are tiff typically also patterns with each of those that can be solved. So first get clarity on that and then work with the different tools and the tools that are available in that toolbox. They're also categorized in physical, mental, and emotional. And depending on the individual person, we would de determine where to start. Like do we start with the physical part? Do we start with the mental part or with the emotional part?Rhoda Bangerter (:
That's brilliant. And there'll be links to your website in the show notes so that people want to contact you assure to be able to contact you. Thank you so much. Thank you really for sharing about your experience, what you're doing, but also about this intuitive eating. It's really interesting angle to look at this life from. So thank you very much.