If you are one who is trying to watch your weight, or even just your health, the holiday season can often stress you out. Its weird—our society has cultivated this hate/love relationship with holiday foods and it’s almost a given and excusatory time of overindulgence. This is often followed with self-loathing and that is often lessened with the promise of abundant health and weight loss at the beginning of the New Year in the form of a “resolution”. I’m here to tell you – you don’t have to follow this toxic cycle! It doesn’t have to be this way. Why should we let food dictate how we feel and our mood around the holidays in general?
Now this is not to say this time is not meant to be enjoyed- it 100% is! But I believe it is worth saying that this time should be enjoyed mindfully, and intuitively, and all ambition to follow a clean and healthful diet should not be thrown out the window. Rather, I believe we need to approach this time in several ways and apply several practical steps to ensure we end the holidays satisfied, happy, but also healthy.
1. Enter the holidays already in a “good place”.
So first, I think it is crucial that we all enter the holidays ALREADY at peace with our bodies and already in a good and happy place with food in general. If you are not in this place, the holiday season has the potential be an extremely stressful situation. You are not setting yourself up for success when it comes to navigating through the holidays mindfully if your soul does not already love and adore your body. So first things first- focus on YOU. Now, I apologize for writing this blog post so late into November… its already late in the game, but I encourage you to do some self reflecting and determine whether or no you have accepted your body how it is. Are you are fostering a healthful relationship with food? Are you at peace with yourself- both body and soul? Are you confident in who you are and how you are? I encourage you to give this some thought over the next few days. I encourage you to read my previous blog posts on this topic (here and here) and reach out to me if you need any guidance, have questions, or simply don’t know how to start. As cliché as it sounds, self-love is EVERYTHING. Absolutely everything. Believe it or not, we can have health goals and also love our bodies exactly how they are already. We can have a health relationship with food while pursing wellness and simultaneously “treating” ourselves with holiday foods.
2. Remember: food is to enjoy, but also to NOURISH.
Navigate through the holiday season remembering the whole purpose of food is not just for enjoyment, but also for NOURISHMENT! Remember, the better nourished you are, the better you will feel- physically and mentally. Take this approach at parties/events/get-togethers and it will help you navigate the food terrain like a champ. Remember to stock up on veggies, good quality proteins, and honestly, just as much real, whole, unprocessed foods as possible. Remember my diet philosophy--- its not about a “diet” or low calorie or weight loss—it’s about REAL foods! So remember, it is always better to eat whole foods (that may even have more calories) versus something that is highly processed.
3. Don’t “stock up” your calories….
Do not, I repeat do NOT skimp on calories (and thus nutrition) because you plan on “indulging”. “Saving up calories” is a bizarre concept. Again, this goes back to forgetting food is also about NOURISHMENT. Yes, even during the holidays. When you get too hungry, you tend to throw intuitive and mindful eating out the window. Eat well and consistently. Your body will appreciate this and you will stay true to your hunger and satiety cues.
4. Don’t feel like you have to overindulge for the sake of overindulging.
What kind of mentality is this?! Like I said earlier, I feel like this is almost an ingrained part of our western holiday culture. Either you abstain or you overindulge. I hate extremes! Health does not revolve around extremes! Extremes only set you up for failure. Your health is a balancing act. It is a dance and a mutual respect between your body and soul. No food should be “off limits” and at the same time, not every food should be consumed in excess during the holidays. When you are at a party with a multitude of food items to choose from, be mindful and thoughtful as to what food items you are going to take. Legitimately think about what you are going to enjoy. NEVER deprive yourself! But also don’t mindlessly eat just for the sake of eating. Eat slowly and thoughtfully. Appreciate the food you are partaking in. Enjoy the fellowship with others over food. After all, isn’t that one of the best things about the holidays?
5. Don’t feel guilty if over-indulgence does happen.
Hey. Honestly. It happens to the best of us. If you end up eating more than you wanted, do NOT feel defeated or guiltily. This mindset and the stress that stems from this sort of guilt is more toxic and detrimental to you than the food/drink you partook in. Accept it for what it is, and move on. Do not ever dwell on it. Remember that you enjoyed good food and drink and heck.. at the end of the day you gotta live a little! So give yourself that time and don’t beat yourself up over it.
6. If “overindulgence” does happen…
Don’t get caught up in a down-hill spiral of mindless eating using the excuse that you are going to “get healthy” or “loose it” or “get back on track” when the New Year comes around. This whole putting off health to a later date is sadly toxic. It excuses us from immediate responsible and thus, our health suffers. It is ALWAYS a good idea to eat healthfully, mindfully, and intuitively NOW. Health is not something we should turn on and off. Our bodies are our bodies and they can and should be treated with love and respect each day- holiday or not. Why not start cultivating a healthful relationship with food right now? Enjoy yourself, but also balance indulgences with physical activity, mediation, plenty of water, and clean, whole foods.
7. Be mindful of your satiety cues.
Again, SLOWLY consume your food. Enjoy it. Savor every bite. Chew thoroughly to encourage easy and maximum digestion. If you are thinking about going back for seconds- that’s 100% fine! Just wait about 15 minute to let your body catch up, satiety cues kick in if they need to, and then make your decision.
I hope this is helpful! The holidays have historically been a very stressful time for me personally, and this is why I felt lead to write this post. I am writing all of this from personal experience and thus, it comes from a place of love and empathy. Take care and eat mindfully, friends! We’re in this together!