The holiday season is a season of extremes. Plates piled with a week’s worth of food. Calendars full of a year’s worth of events. Carts stacked with enough gifts to supply our whole neighborhood.
So if we’re in search of balance, and peace, and consistent progress towards our health goals (and other goals!), it can be tricky to manage everything and make the right choices for our one-of-a-kind situations.
Let’s talk about food choices today. A lot of Americans use the holiday season as an excuse to indulge in processed foods, sweet treats, and bubbly for six weeks long...only to wake up on January 1st feeling like less than our best selves (#beentheredonethat).
But for those of us who are trying to lose weight, build muscle, and get healthy, sometimes the pendulum swings a little too far in the opposite direction.
Before we know it, we’re weighing our Thanksgiving dinner on a food scale, feeling guilty for eating a spoonful of mashed potatoes, and eating raw almonds out of our purse at a holiday party. And at that point, food just adds another layer of stress to an already busy season.
If you’re struggling to find balance in your diet this time of year, intuitive eating might be the answer. Intuitive eating is a mindset that focuses on how your body feels and what your body needs...versus a mindset that focuses on strict rules and perfection.
Instead of feeling guilty about your cravings or forcing yourself to miss out on your favorite foods, you can listen to your body’s hunger cues, view food as nourishment and energy (not “good” or “bad”), and let go of the stress that dieting causes. You can stop giving food power over you, and choose to enjoy parties and events without binging on shortbread cookies or skipping food altogether. Balance.
Here are a few helpful tips to keep in mind if you notice yourself stressing about food, (or feeling guilty about nibbling on a slice of pie).
NOURISH ALL DAY LONG
If you’re going to a festive party in the evening, don’t skip meal or eat lighter in order to “make up” for the heavier food you might eat later in the day. Usually, this leads to headaches, irritability, and maybe even unplanned binging when your hunger gets the best of you. Instead, nourish your body with healthy, delicious food all day long so that you won’t be controlled by cravings and hunger by dinner time. At the party, you’ll be free to enjoy the meal in moderation—stress-free.
FOCUS ON CONNECTION
Next time you’re at a fun event or holiday gathering, let go of your focus on the food. Sure, they’re might be a meal, a buffet, or a bar involved, but that doesn’t have to be the center of the party. Instead, focus on enjoying the people you’re with and making memories with them. A helpful mantra: “I’m here to celebrate, connect with loved ones, and have fun.”
Nobody’s perfect. It’s part of the human experience. And one slip-up won’t derail your health goals. So if you eat three cookies (when you were planning on none) or drink a few too many cocktails (when you were planning to stick with water), choose to see your choice as a lesson instead of as a failure. Next time, you’ll just be better prepared to make the right choice for your body. Guilt doesn’t have to be the driver of your diet decisions.
Navigating the holidays with health and wellness in mind is tricky. So we hope these tips will help you bring a little bit of extra joy, light, and peace into this season. Happy Holidays!