Eating During the Holidays – A Love/Hate Relationship
Thoughts of the holiday season brings to mind cold, yet cozy days, and big family-style dinners. The holidays allow for spending time with loved ones, whether it is a few immediate friends or family members, or a larger group of extended family. However, many of us are plagued with the idea of having to manage their “temptation” when there are holiday baked goods set out as appetizers, desserts, etc.
Food stress and weight worries tend to increase over the holiday season. For those who are struggling with their relationship with food, eating at holiday parties can result in feelings of regret and guilt. But by maintaining your normal pattern, understanding that holiday eating is only a very small snippet of the year, and that eating during the holidays is about connecting with others, not the nutritional value of each food, can help you keep your cool and float through this potentially difficult time with greater ease.
Here are some other helpful tips to get you through the holidays:
1) Don’t deprive yourself of your favourite foods. Grandma’s homemade sugar cookies? A piece or two of salted caramel chocolate? Go ahead and enjoy it. Eating it mindfully, by tasting the food and enjoying it, we tend to manage these favourite foods in a very reasonable manner. Also by giving yourself ‘permission’ to eat these foods, it lessens the need to “get it all in”, thus, overeating these foods.
2) Whatever you do, don’t skip meals on the day of a holiday feast! Skipping meals or eating too little before the big holiday dinner, ensures that one overeats at that already heavy meal. Maintaining your regular eating pattern of a healthy breakfast, followed by lunch helps you get into that dinner meal eating normally, yet still able to enjoy your favourite foods. Individuals who starve themselves “so they can eat more later” typically end up eating more overall.
3) A very simple rule of thumb: Make ½ your place vegetables, ¼ your plate starches/grains (i.e. potato, dinner roll), and ¼ of your plate protein. This eliminates over-thinking, and allows you to have a balance of nutrients. After dinner, choose a dessert! If you can’t decide, pick the one that brings you the most joy.
4) Remember that fullness is a normal part of holiday meals! You will feel better within ~1 hour after digestion has started. Distract yourself from any uncomfortable feelings (or guilt) with non-food activities after the meal. Try a new board game, card game, or put a good movie on.
5) Try not to forget about the most important meaning of the holidays – spending time with loved ones. J