There are better ways to spend your holidays, and ‘perfect’ eating isn’t one of them. Here’s how you can limit the struggles, and remember what you’re celebrating for.
BY: MICHELLE VINA-BALTSAS
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Or, is it?
Let’s face it, as fun as the holiday season can be, it can also be very stressful, especially for those who struggle in their relationships with food. From overeating during the holidays to worries of imminent weight gain, these are real concerns for many people.
And it makes it difficult to fully enjoy the holidays when you’re worried about what you’re eating, how much you’re eating, and how all of that will impact your waistline.
If you’re feeling this way, understand that you’re not alone.
But the truth is, your struggles with food – specifically with binge eating, chronic emotional overeating, and food restriction, actually have more to do with your existing mindset of control. The one that wants to control your eating (and weight) is what’s actually causing you to feel uncontrolled and dissatisfied with your eating in the long run.
And it’s why intuitive eating can be a helpful alternative to help you relearn how to listen to your body’s internal signals for hunger, fullness and food satisfaction. Regardless if you are a seasoned intuitive eater or have never practiced intuitive eating before, you don’t have to feel stressed or wallow in food guilt this holiday season if you remember to practice the following.
Instead of restricting your favorite foods because they’re too fattening or have too many carbs, eat them instead. It may sound crazy, but restricting foods can often lead to overeating or even bingeing down the road.
Believe it or not, food doesn’t seem as “taboo” when we give ourselves permission to eat it. When foods are made out to be scarce or “forbidden” in our minds, it intensifies the need to want them even more. By giving yourself permission to eat all foods (unless there is a food allergy or sensitivity to it), it is less likely you will overeat later.
When choosing foods to eat, eat your favorites first. Take some time to visually scan what’s available to you and then go for it!
Don’t save the best for last. Eat those foods first so you can savor them now. There is no reason to postpone joy, especially if there is a limited quantity of it.
As often as possible, be present or mindful while eating. It’s a busy time of year! Schedules are packed, and often emotions are running high.
But as often as possible, be intimate with your food. By that, it means to be deliberate about the foods you choose to eat. When the food hits your tongue, let the flavors and textures take hold. After chewing your food well (which helps with digestion) and swallowing it, ask yourself if the food was satisfying to you before you take another bite. It’s amazing how often we just eat food because it’s on our plate, but the food really isn’t satisfying to us. So, take the time to ask yourself if the foods you’re eating are satisfying you. When we’re eating satisfying foods, we often eat less of them.
No matter what time of the year it is, striving for perfectionism isn’t helpful.
It can breed rigidity that often leads to more stress, more overeating, and more food guilt. By practicing self-compassion when you notice these perceived imperfections, you can be more present and mindful in life without judgment while experiencing less stress and more joy in your holiday eating.
No matter where you are on your journey with food, give yourself permission to eat “imperfectly”. And when you do this, you can truly enjoy the gifts of the holiday season and beyond.
Adapted from the original post.
HEADER IMAGE: JENNIFER PALLIAN
Michelle Vina-Baltsas is a Certified Intuitive Eating and Body Confidence Coach who supports women ready to redefine their health. She believes that food is meant to be enjoyed without guilt and weight is nothing more than a number. Michelle is passionate about helping midlife women discover peace with food and their bodies so they can live more fulfilling and purposeful lives without the constant preoccupation of trying to measure up to unrealistic beauty standards. Michelle lives in upstate NY with her family and she offers virtual private coaching, group coaching and online learning opportunities for women internationally.
Holidays make us lazy. But we have to make sure we are active during these days. Just get a hold of yourself and try to make your life interesting with the help of exercises.