In case you didn’t know – the holiday season is upon us. Although Thanksgiving has yet to occur, the Christmas decorations are up and the Santa commercials are playing. No complaints here, I absolutely love this time of year.
Call me Buddy the Elf, but I l o v e this season. I love the traditions, the togetherness, and the cheerfulness that the holidays bring about. A lot of these traditions, and of course being together with a group of people, can mean lots of food. Food is everywhere. And it’s not subpar food either, it’s sweet, rich desserts and savory, indulgent appetizers and buttery, flaky breads. Did I make you drool a little?
Being surrounded by so much food for multiple weeks straight can create panicky or anxious feelings. But I don’t want that for you! You should only panic about food if you have inadequate access, and in that case, I can help lead you to helpful resources. Otherwise, don’t fear food – enjoy it. Here are my golden rules in a nutshell.
1: There are no bad foods.
It’s the old forbidden fruit concept. How well did that work for our girl Eve? Spoiler alert: the one fruit she was not allowed to eat, she obsessed over, eventually ate it, and now thousands of years later we still are suffering. Okay, but really! It’s always what we can’t have that we want most. Allow yourself to enjoy the foods you crave.
If you do not allow yourself to enjoy the food that you crave, you will (I promise) end up overeating that food and then feeling shameful because that was the one food you weren’t supposed to eat even 1 serving of and now you just ate 6 servings of it…..
I have personally been there, done that, and it’s not fun! Food should be a source of pleasure, not shame and misery.
2: Stop while you’re ahead.
Now that you have allowed yourself to eat the foods you truly want, not just the foods that you “should want,” it’s important to practice moderation. The goal here is to stop eating once you feel satisfied, not stuffed. This will help you not feel bad, bloated, and burpy later on.
If you are sitting around the dinner table, try pushing your plate away or placing your napkin on top of your plate once you are satisfied. If you are standing around, try throwing away your plate and utensils or moving away from the food area and focus more on the social aspects of the party.
3: Be mindful.
Maybe it’s just my food-loving family, but around the holidays there are small bowls of food everywhere. In between meal times, I’ll be sitting on the couch with 3 bowls of goodies within arms reach! Often, I will find myself reaching into the bowl mindlessly stuffing my face. I am not hungry and I don’t even really realize that I am eating. This is a problem because I am eating without a thought. This can lead to eating excess calories and spoil upcoming meals!
And while there should be no “bad foods,” it is important to recognize that there are some foods that are most special than others. For example, a holiday party might have two candy bowls. One is full of Hershey Kisses and the other is full of your grandma’s homemade toffee. One of these bowls is filled with a candy that you can purchase and eat year-round while the other is a special occasion kind of treat. In this scenario, I’d encourage you to mindfully eat the toffee that is special rather than the Hershey Kisses. Unless Hershey Kisses are your favorite, then obviously go for those. In one of my favorite books, Intuitive Eating, they say, “If you don’t love it, don’t eat it. And if you love it, savor it.” That is my point here!
I wish you all a happy Thanksgiving and a joyful rest of the holiday season. At your next holiday family meal or Christmas party, remember that no food is off limits, to stop eating once you are satisfied, and to eat mindfully. And most importantly, to enjoy the food, family, and friends around you.