By Alejandra Boker, MBA, RD, IFNCP
Let’s be honest, the two things that people enjoy most during the holidays are spending time with family and eating delicious food. We look forward to celebrating food traditions while spending time with the aunt and uncle we haven’t seen in months, possibly years. During these special moments, food brings people together and plays a role in our happiness. However, for many, the holidays can be stressful and anxiety-provoking. There are decisions about food and eating. And, lots of people to make those decisions around.
Everyone deals with this stress in different ways. Some will restrict themselves around the food they love because they want to “be good”. Others completely throw in the towel and eat mindlessly because right around the corner is the New Year’s resolution. Although these are complete opposite strategies to cope with food and food decisions, they are both ways to deal with the food-related stress that comes with the holidays.
A lot of this stress comes on due to several reasons.
- You may feel pressured to eat more or less;
- You may be asked about your weight or health; or
- You may simply feel like all eyes are on you, so you want to make the “best” decisions possible when it comes to food.
Regardless of the reason, there are strategies that you can put into place so that this time of year turns into a happy occasion and not a sad or stressful one.
- Be mindful. Being mindful implies you eat when you are hungry and stop eating when you feel satisfied (not full). You tune in with your body and determine what you REALLY feel like eating, versus eating everything in sight.
- Enjoy a dessert if you really want it. Sometimes you may feel satisfied, but your body is asking for something sweet. That’s OK. What you eat in that particular moment, doesn’t define what you will eat in the next meal or during the next year.
- Stay hydrated. Sometimes we confuse our thirst with hunger. However, if you are staying hydrated throughout the day, you are less likely to confuse the two.
- Incorporate a protein, fat, and fiber in your meals. These are the 3 key nutrients that help us feel satisfied longer.
- Set gentle boundaries with loved ones. Just like it’s ok to say yes, it is also ok to say no. No one knows your body better than you do. Therefore, you’re the best person to communicate how you’re feeling.
- Avoid fasting all day so that you can “make room” for the meal later on in the day. Although this makes sense initially, it completely disregards the idea of being mindful. You will likely go from being ravenous to overly full – a very unpleasant feeling to have.
- Stay consistent with your exercise and “me time” routine. Just because it’s the holidays, doesn’t mean your routine has to go out the window. Keep doing the things that you do consistently that help you feel good physically and mentally.
Whatever decisions you make during the holidays, remember that the holidays are only a few days out of the year. All the work you have put in and the routine you have kept for months doesn’t just disappear. If you overeat at Aunt Lily’s house one night, it’s ok! Take the next day to go back to your routine and regular eating habits. Move on.
Use the holidays as an opportunity to connect with your loved ones and enjoy the pleasure of delicious food.
QUOTE FOR THE WEEK
“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart…” – Helen Keller