With the holiday season comes a lot of joy, laughter, excitement, craziness and of course stress - stress about spending money on gifts, about making sure you make time for everyone, about having to attend multiple family and social gatherings and of course about potentially over indulging in food, drink and overall merriment.
It's not a coincidence that all the most common New Years Resolutions - that immediately follow the holidays - usually contain some kind of diet, exercise or general weight loss plan. We have been brainwashed to think that the holidays are detrimental to our health and that there is no way to get out alive so we might as well just indulge for a month straight, feel shitty and then make ourselves a false promise to do better in the new year right? Wrong.
One of the main problems during the holidays is that people often have this all or nothingattitude when it comes to food, they see things as black and white and there is little to no grey area. People often tend to restrict themselves all day in preparation for a big festive meal later which leads to binging at said meal or they throw all self control out the window because they know that a big meal is coming which also leads to binging but it's more likely to last all day (or month) long. Whatever your plan of attack may be, both lead to an unhealthy mindset surrounding what should be a joyous time and an unintentional excess in food which probably results in you feeling quite sick, guilty and defeated.
We live in a time where diet culture is our culture, everywhere you look there are half naked models promoting fad diets, influencers writing posts on "how not to gain weight during the holidays" and corporate gyms having new years promos because they know that there will be a small army of people marching through their doors on January first feeling guilty about what they chose to consume over the last month. It would honestly be more abnormal for us not to have these thoughts of fear, guilt and punishment for our food choices because at the end of the day it is how we are told to think.
Unfortunately diet and restriction is so ridiculously normal to most of us that we don't even consider the fact that by obsessing so heavily over what we're putting in our bodies we are actually missing out on the most important part of the holidays - the actual enjoyment of time and togetherness with our loved ones.
There is more to the holiday season than dreading an extra glass of wine or a couple of sugar cookies.
Think about it this way - if you spend an entire holiday dinner obsessing over how many calories are in it did you actually enjoy that dinner or was it a waste? If you spent all day thinking about how many burpees you were going to have to do to burn off your favourite dessert only to become stressed when the dish hit the table was it worth it? All of this obsession is not only creating a negative mindset about food but about the holidays in general. I don't know how many times this week alone that I read some kind of post about holiday food anxiety and it honestly makes me cringe because I used to feel that way and I know exactly what kind of thoughts are going on in those people's heads. Learn more about my transition into Intuitive Eating HERE..
MAKING THE MENTAL SWITCH
I think that the first and possibly most important thing that you can do is slow down, take a step back and be thankful for the fact that you even have food to stress over. A lot of people all over the world do not even have enough food to fill their bellies daily let alone an excessive amount to dread dealing with. Food is not only a form of enjoyment but it is a basic human necessity and something that our body's actually need to not only survive but to thrive, remember that.
Second, it's important to know that restriction and stress just lead to binging - If you stress and starve yourself all day you are 100% more likely to eat everything in your path when you do finally let yourself eat. I know my hunger and my mentality pretty well at this point and I know that if I let myself go too long without eating I will get hangry and probably eat a snack while making another snack to have before my actual meal and then be uncomfortably full which is not enjoyable for anyone.
Third, fuel yourself prior to your party or dinner or whatever you may be attending later. DO NOT look at this as a way to prepare your body or mind for indulging, you don't have to eat salad all day and be miserable in order to save room in your calories. Eat normally, eat balanced and eat what your body wants and needs.
Pro Tip: Drinking lots of water throughout the day can also help your digestion move along a little better as you may be eating things your body isn't super used to.
Finally, you need to forget about the diets and stop thinking about how much cardio it takes to burn off a plate of stuffing and mashed potatoes. You have to learn to just ignore the tabloids, the Instagram posts and the talk of new years resolutions, they will all still be there once the holidays have come and gone. There is a time for working out and a time for sitting on your butt with your family while laughing and eating your mothers famous baked goods - be able to separate the two.
What I've learned through Intuitive Eating is that once you take the labeling of good and bad and the restriction away from food and just let yourself see it as food you start to want the things that you used to obsess over less. I used to crave desserts - cookies, cakes, chocolate you name it I wanted it and I wanted it all the time. I would obsess over sweets until I cracked and then I would binge and eat a whole box of cookies instead of the 1 that I likely would've eaten if I had just allowed myself and my body what it wanted - because I viewed them as "unhealthy" and restricted myself it became an unhealthy obsession. Now if I want something sweet I'll have it, likely be satisfied and then move on so yes all of the holiday baking excites me but I don't feel the need to binge on it all at once because I'm no longer deprived.
The most important thing when it comes to eating intuitively no matter what time of year it is - is being able to listen to your body, it is way smarter than you (no offence) and it knows exactly what it needs and when it needs it. If you feel hungry, eat and if you feel full, stop - it's simple.
Just like all of life, the holidays should be enjoyed. Live in the moment, appreciate your people, make memories - eat, drink and be merry..