There are so many things to love about this time of the year heading into the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, one of those things being food.
From the creamy mashed potatoes to the warm spice of pumpkin pie, decadent chocolate desserts, deep fried turkeys, and a slew of other fixin’s, this time of the year is the pinnacle for all things related to delicious food.
While there is the comfort of tradition that we feel so warmly this time of the year, anxiety, guilt, and shame, can well up quickly surrounding the holidays due to the sheer amount of food that is present.
We may feel that all-too-common twinge of guilt as we bite into a sugar cookie with its delicious sugary icing but try to shove the negative feelings away to enjoy the party, and the cookie.
There are so many options and so many dishes at every party and event that we can’t help but try a little bit of it all. But then a little bit of everything adds up to be a whole lot.
We leave stuffed rather than full.
We have to unbutton our jeans on the drive home just so we don’t feel our tummies poking over the tops of our pants making the surge of regret course through our veins because we knew we shouldn’t have eaten that much.
The season of good tidings and great joy can quickly leave us feeling bad about our bodies and making halfhearted promises not to overeat or simply not eat things we don’t really want.
Not to be legalistic or to dictate what I eat or don’t eat but rather to use as a framework, the following are 3 questions that I ask myself that help me maintain the healthiest mental approach to eating, especially during the holiday season.
Am I full?
That sounds really silly, I realize but have you ever stopped eating for two seconds to ponder the answer?
Often times I continue eating absentmindedly only to scoop up the last little bit on my plate and lean back in my chair feel miserable because I am stuffed, like the thanksgiving turkey.
I’ve made it a practice during gatherings where the food is endless or at big dinners to stop and ask myself ‘Am I full?’ Often I find that I may not be done with everything on my plate but indeed I am full!
Rather than trudging ahead and devouring every delicious delicacy offered, I stop. Satisfied and full but not stuffed. Then I get to drive home and crawl into bed, not feeling terrible about myself for eating so much and also without a stomachache. It’s a win-win.
2. Why do I want to eat this?
I don't ask myself this question merely to justify or feel better about what I am eating, but rather I'll ask myself the question in order to help gain insight and clarity.
Am I eating this because I am hungry?
Am I seeking the dopamine rush I know this chocolate mousse pie will give me because I’ve had a crappy day?
Am I eating this because I truly love carrot cake and all of its rich creamy icing goodness?
Asking this question helps me clarify my intentions, thoughts and emotions (if there are any at play) behind eating.
3. What am I feeling right now?
Yep I’m going there.
Feelings and eating at times can be so connected and it’s helpful to understand how they are both at play. In times that I am feeling acutely sad, if I’m really disappointed about something, or even when I’m happy and generally feeling good about myself, it helps to identity it.
Identifying my emotions that are at play helps me understand better why it may be that I want to eat a particular item or eat at a given time.
It’s tough, and it’s going to be tough because we have to eat to live; yet food is such a part of celebrations and gatherings.
While the holiday season can be one of the toughest to approach food with a healthy mindset and to eat in a well-balanced manner, it is possible!
I’d love to hear some of the approached you use, especially during the holidays, to maintain the healthiest lifestyle!