Holidays can be a torturous time for those trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Pumpkin pies, cakes, and fudge are tempting delights and seem to call our names (how do they know me?!). But the holidays don’t have to be tortuous or tempting. You can enjoy food and drink during all of the festivities and still stay on your healthy track.
Let’s first put things into perspective. Did you know that there are approximately 55 celebrations per individual, per year? 55! This includes religious holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, graduations, etc. Holidays and celebrations are ALWAYS just around the corner. So I say, what’s the big deal? It’s just another day dealing with food.
So, how can you win the battle over holiday weight gain? Think about this for a moment…if food was the only thing that made us fat, everyone who put food in his or her mouth would be overweight. We know that is not the case. Food does not make you fat…your relationship with food is what creates excess weight. It’s all “between your ears,” not on the food table. The beauty of that? YOU have control over that. We are not born winners and we are not born losers. We are all born choosers. You can choose how to live, how to eat, how you exercise and how you control stress.
Take some time before the holidays to get a clear picture of your stressors. What are the dynamics that always send you over to the dessert table…for the fourth time? Is it a particular person? Is it the same story that is always told about when you were a kid and you did something embarrassing? Is it certain memories that go with the house where you go to celebrate? When you become aware and understand your triggers, you will be in better control of them and better able to empower yourself by choosing your response…ahead of time. This shift alone, going from reacting to responding, can reduce your stress, as well as other emotional levels tremendously, before you even walk in the door.
Emotional hunger is as real as physical hunger, but it can only be satisfied by an appropriate emotional response. What often happens when we overeat is that we are feeding food to our feelings. Food is the appropriate fuel for physical hunger. However, eating when you are stressed will result in weight gain and weight gain will make you even more stressed. Stop this cycle in your life and listen to your feelings. What is it that your body and mind are REALLY asking for in that moment? For example, if you are tired, get some rest. If you are lonely, call a friend. If you feel edgy, go for a walk. When you give your body and your mind what THEY are needing, the result is a healthier, happier you.
Remember, when you eat when you are physically hungry, you burn it. When you eat when you are emotionally hungry, you wear it. What have you got to lose…except weight?
Here are some tips to help you thrive during the upcoming holidays:
1. Emphasize the Festivities
• De-emphasize the food. Concentrate on the celebration and the joy of sharing with others. Talk, laugh, and have fun! Enjoy the occasion and the company and the experience more than the food.
2. Think Positively
• Get really clear about how you want to behave in relation to holiday eating. Then affirm and resolve not to overeat. Reassure yourself that you CAN have fun without overeating.
3. Be Powerful
• Stay in Present Time with yourself. Just because you have binged in the past does not mean that has to be your pattern this year.
4. Take Smaller Portions
• Holiday times mean special food. Let yourself enjoy little tastes. This allows you to taste everything without risking getting stuffed.
5. Practice “No”
• Practice polite ways to decline more food if you feel you have had enough so that you are ready to respond kindly, but firmly when the time comes (and it will!).
I wish you the strength of character to pull yourself up by those battered boot straps and practice positive thinking and just a little perspective shift – you can do it! Good health, everyone, and happy holidays!