If you're trying to lose weight or simply a health conscious eater, Christmas meals can be stressful. Read on to learn how to honor your body by choosing the foods you truly want.
Merry Christmas Eve! I hope you’re having a lovely holiday so far, enjoying time with family and friends and not strangers at the mall.
The hubs and I are spending Christmas with my family in Virginia, where my dad and stepmom live. We’ve got the entire family at the house, ten of us total, plus our two beasts, who basically count as four small children.
The holiday season is a joyful time, but it can also be quite stressful. Between seeing clients, finishing up blog posts, traveling to Atlanta and then up to Virginia 36 hours later, I’ve had to consciously stop and smell the roses...err, the Christmas tree. Chances are you’ve been dealing with stressors of your own - battling crowds at the airport, scrambling to finish shopping, being stuck with your overly opinionated aunt Martha who can't seem to contain her concern for the fact that you haven't settled down.
If you’re trying to lose weight or simply a health conscious eater, it’s likely your Christmas meal is among those stressors. Being in tune enough with your body to enjoy a pleasurable meal, guilt-free, can be difficult enough on a normal day. On holidays, surrounded by an overabundance of rich foods, it can feel near impossible.
Are you dreading the holiday meal, wondering if you can walk away from the table without feeling guilty or conversely, feeling deprived?
The anxiety you’re feeling likely comes from one of two sources – internal and external pressures. Internal pressure is the voice inside your head telling you not to eat a certain food because it’s “bad.” Listen to that voice and you’ll spend Christmas unhappy, deprived and probably a little hungry. External pressure comes from family, when they push you to overeat, or eat foods you don’t enjoy or ethically disagree with. Give in to these pressures and you’ll feel crappy, guilty and uncomfortably full.
Before passing on the Christmas cookies or choking down your mom's jello salad, try these strategies to clear the noise and decide what you truly desire.
If you're struggling with internal pressure to pass on "bad" foods, it's helpful to put the meal in perspective. After all, it's just one meal. It's your day-to-day eating habits that truly matter. If you still need perspective, think back to a favorite holiday food memory, one where you really indulged. Remember how pleasurable the meal was. Looking back, do you regret the meal now? Can you honestly say the one meal had any deleterious health effects or caused permanent weight gain? Probably not. What makes you think this indulgence would be any different?
Maybe you feel comfortable with what and how much you want to eat, but it's your family that has an issue. Health conscious eaters may end up eating foods they don't like or overeating simply to avoid judgement or avoid hurting feelings of family members who prepared the food. Being a dietitian, I often struggle with external pressures that I'll be judged for food choices, although often times it's perceived rather than real. Serve yourself the foods you want in the portions that satisfy you. If anyone questions your choices, be prepared with a polite response. The vast majority of people will accept the fact that you avoid meat for ethical reasons or that jello salad just ain't your thing. If not, well, that sounds like their problem, not yours. If your pushed to eat more than you would like, tell the cook how much you enjoyed the meal, but tell them you're starting to feel uncomfortably full.
Need more guidance? Check out these links:
How to Have a Guilt Free Holiday Season (Avocado A Day)
5 Ways to Practice Mindful Eating Around the Holidays (The Foodie Dietitian)
When is it Worth it to Splurge on Unhealthy Food (Avocado A Day)
The Smother-in-Law: Standing Up For Your Food Choices (Huffington Post)
The Holiday Season, Listen and Honor Your Cravings (Mindful Meals)