The approach of the holidays can be quite stressful. This stress may come from the need to decorate, shop or see certain family members. However, if this stress comes from being surrounded by holiday FOOD, take heart and use these tips to mentally prepare yourself for the next 7 weeks of holiday eating.
1. Remember that food is just food
Food has no power to make you happy, sad or any other emotion. Food is just food. Food can only nourish our bodies. Remembering this may help you at those times of high stress when you are looking for something to relieve your emotions. Those emotions, and the reason for them, will still exist after eating. So, use eating for what is meant to be used; don't let your emotions trick you into using it for anything else.
2. Change your mindset
Going into the holidays saying, "I won't eat this," or "I can't have that," only further fuels your desire to find it. That which we try to avoid is what we will most want. Avoid creating this situation altogether by not labeling any foods "forbidden foods." Another approach is to change the phrasing from, "I can't have that," to "I am choosing not to have it today, but I know I can have it tomorrow if I want to." And if you in fact DO want it tomorrow (or today), then eat it! And be sure to take the time to enjoy each bite. Do not avoid, restrict or forbid any foods this holiday season. Yes, you can eat any of those sweets or treats and still meet your health and performance goals. The key is to keep those eating situations as "no big deal."
3. Mind your portions
What is it important to keep these situations "no big deal?" Because it helps keep you in tune with your intake. How much do you really need to eat to satisfy a craving for those tasting holiday offerings? One piece of pie? Two brownies? A bite of a crème puff? It may vary for different foods and at different parties or situations. But, the key is to stay in tune with your cravings and desires. Don't avoid cravings and know that it is okay to eat what you crave. However, eat as much as you truly need to in order to satisfy that craving. Some people call this portion control. I call it intuitive eating, or listening to what your body really wants. Because if you truly listen, few bodies will actually want very large portions of treats - sweet, savory or otherwise. Practice being a good listener, and I promise your body will do the "control" for you.
4. Name what you treasure more than food
Of course holiday food can be a very exciting part of the holidays, but it shouldn't be the only exciting thing. Take time to list out all of the things you love about the holidays that are not food-related. Go back to this list when things are getting stressful. This will help you find things other than food to help you resolve your stress. How about listening to Christmas music, hanging up lights or watching a Christmas classic? Find things that most excite you.
You Nutrition Coach,