If you read any of my previous blogs or social media content, you’ll know that my overall philosophy on food is that there are no “GOOD” or “BAD foods. Food is fuel, energy, and nourishment for every living organism… and in case you missed high school Biology… you’re one of those organisms!
Eating broccoli doesn’t make you a good human being any more than eating a piece of pumpkin pie makes you a bad one.
The holidays are upon us, and with that comes the opportunities to attend parties and celebrations at which food and drink are the centers of attention. Holiday food gets a bad rap. Yes, it can be indulgent. But it can also be very yummy. And in some family circles or cultures, the holidays are the one time of year when all can gather to enjoy a traditional meal, give thanks, celebrate and connect.
If you are dreading these events because of the fear that you’ll eat the “wrong thing” or “fall off the wagon” here is what you can do to finally feel good about Thanksgiving and all the winter holiday meals you have every right to enjoy.
- First and foremost: Consider not attaching negative labels to holiday foods. Stepping away from that kind of thinking will free you from guilt, shame, and sadness if in the event you overindulge. No more “earning your food,” that’s too “fattening,” etc.
- And then: Detach your self-worth and your emotions from the food offerings. No amount of pecan pie, sweet potato casserole or stuffing/ dressing (FYI- stuffing is what Northern folks eat while dressing is the Southern version) will ever make you a bad person! I promise! And frustrated with your family? The holidays can be a boiling pot for emotions, but that doesn’t mean you should turn to food to be your comfort. Emotional eating is a category all it’s own and requires special tips and tricks to move away from.
- Believe it or not, you can bake those pies and make those sides and eat them every single day of the year if you really want to. In my experience working with clients over the last decade, it’s the forced deprivation of these types of foods that ultimately leads to their overindulgence during the holidays. You know that phrase… you’ve said 10 thousand times… “I can’t buy those because I’ll eat the whole bag.” You only eat the whole bag because you enjoy them and you’ve spent so much time building them up in your head as “BAD” or “UNHEALTHY” or “FATTENING” that your subconscious explodes when you’re around those foods and you eat them all because deep down you know that you won’t get the opportunity to eat them again any time soon.
- Eat and move on. Give yourself wholehearted, unconditional permission to eat what you want! This thought reframe about food changes the paradigm you have been operating under regarding that food so it no longer has power over you. I wrote an entire blog about this regarding Halloween candy that you can check out HERE. This takes some time and repetition, but you’ll get there. I also recommend that my clients keep some of those foods in their house to help them desensitize themselves from it. If it’s there all the time and you can eat it whenever you want, eventually the luster will wear off and you won’t crave it as you have in the past.
- Give yourself grace. Changing your internal dialog takes time but feeling free to enjoy your day on the other side is epic.
- Be prepared. Eat something small before a holiday party to ensure you aren’t overly hungry, balance blood sugar, and get some product/fiber in your diet, so you aren’t ravenous.
- Out maneuver the buffet. Prepare a small plate of foods you like best and move away from the buffet table.
- Slow it down. It takes 20 minutes for your brain to realize you are full. Take a few minutes for your stomach to register with your brain about whether or not you’re satiated. Make conversation. Drink some water. Then recheck your appetite. You may want something other than that extra helping!
- Be present. Pay attention to what really matters. Food is an integral part of the holidays, but the focus should be on the company you are with and the memories you are making.
Life is not perfect and neither are you. As humans, we have to embrace that imperfection and use it to our advantage. Just take imperfect action every day. Get back to healthy eating at the next meal instead of beating yourself up. Release the all-or-nothing attitude and enjoy everything this life has to offer you… in food AND experiences.