This time of year can bring up a lot of different emotions for people, particularly as it relates to food and all of the holiday gatherings centered on it.
So in the spirit of keeping things a bit lighter today, I’m going to leave you with a few sentiments that I would share with you should we be sitting across the table from each other having a cup of tea (or perhaps, a holiday glass of bubbly;)).
The kind of thing I would share with a girlfriend, or client, alike. In fact if you have worked with me, or have read earlier blog posts, I’m sure most of these will sound somewhat familiar.
Truthfully, these things can be applied any day of the year, and not just over the holidays…but given the season is upon us, I thought it would only be fitting.
If you’d like to experience more Food Freedom over the holidays, keep these 5 sentiments in mind!
1. Your Body, Your Business
Eat, drink, and be merry to the extent that it feels good to you. That might sound grossly oversimplified, but I believe it should be quite simple. Can’t eat something? Don’t. Don’t want to eat something? Don’t be pressured into doing so. There’s no need to defend your food choices to anyone. Some situations may warrant an explanation of course (i.e. explaining a food restriction ahead of time to somebody who is hosting you as a guest in their home for dinner), but oftentimes a simple “no, thank you” will suffice.
2. Raise Your Standards
This tidbit is especially relevant during the holiday season when there are treats galore at every turn. Eat those things you really desire or look forward to at this time of year, but don’t fall into the trap of lazily eating it just because it’s there. This is a great time to exercise the notion “quality over quantity”.
Cheap drugstore milk chocolate? No, thank you. Store-bought cookies with green and red sprinkles? Pass. Mom’s homemade whipped shortbread? Bring it on! You get the point. Save your indulgences for those things that you really look forward to once a year. (Side note: unless of course the cheap drugstore chocolate involves a box of Holiday Turtles then I may have to sample one;))
3. The Dose Makes the Poison
If you’re following any type of specialized diet or have food sensitivities, holiday gatherings can be a tad bit stressful for some people. Not to minimize the situation, but oftentimes it really is a question of quantity. It’s rarely ever so black and white, unless you have a true food allergy or a severe intolerance, and even in the case of just wanting to eat healthy and stick to your diet plan, the same still applies – in other words a little bit of indulgence shouldn’t derail you for weeks to come (unless of course you throw in the towel until the New Year).
Believe me, I understand not wanting symptoms to spring forth at inconvenient times, but being fearful of food doesn’t help the situation either. The stress of having to police ever single bite is enough to exacerbate digestive symptoms all on its own. By all means, avoid or limit potential food triggers if possible, but keep in mind that food sensitivities/triggers often have a cumulative effect.
4. Be Mindful of Your Thoughts
When you feel good, you make better choices. It’s simple as that. Don’t waste time entertaining feelings of guilt or remorse if you happen to get a little “off plan”. If you’re going to eat something, just eat it, enjoy it, and move on.
Thoughts are energy, just like the food we eat, and our thoughts ultimately affect the way we feel, which then influence the actions that we take (or perhaps lack of action, whichever the case may be).
Furthermore, if you go into a situation feeling fearful of food, or obsessing over the “damage” you’re going to do to your waistline, how does that affect how you digest and assimilate your food? A little food for thought…
At any rate, try to shift the focus away from food and towards the people whom with you are celebrating or sharing the moment.
5. Healthily Compensate
No, I’m not referring to starving yourself all day so you can enjoy yourself at the holiday party (that’s likely to backfire with one of those “eyes bigger than stomach” scenarios when you spot the buffet). I’m talking about compensating in a perfectly healthy way – no rigid food rules.
For example, if you know you have multiple holiday events to attend in the evenings, try to keep the rest of the day “business as usual”. In other words, be sure to get the good stuff in earlier (i.e. veggies, greens, lean proteins, plenty of water, your workout) knowing fully well that perhaps you’ll be indulging in richer fare, a few sugary treats, or imbibing a few holiday spirits later on.
Of course it’s not about perfection, but balancing things out (i.e. doing what you can given the situation even if it’s a 10 minute circuit of push ups, squats, and sit-ups rather than your usual hour-long routine at the gym, or even just getting outside for a walk with your family) – rather than just taking the whole month off in the name of the holiday season and then having to get “started again” when January rolls around. Snooze.
Wishing you a happy and healthy holiday season!