The holiday season is right around the corner. For some, it is a joyous time of year. For those who are struggling with food, the holidays tend to bring up not-so-good feelings. Thus, making the season much less enjoyable. I’m talking about worrying about what foods you’ll eat. Guilt about the foods you did eat. Finally, the stress that’s caused by trying to stay away from “bad” foods. If you want to be able to enjoy this holiday season, stay on track with your goals, and worry less about the foods you’re having, then keep on reading!
Overeating During The Holiday Season:
One of the biggest concerns surrounding the holidays is eating too much, or at least more than we are used to. I get it, food and the holidays go hand in hand. There are more pastries and desserts available. Foods tend to be more comforting. Portions are also much larger this time of year. Not to mention the social pressure to eat these foods at different events. We’ll get into that topic later!
A lot of us only see a lot of these foods around the holidays. That typically makes them much more desirable this time of year. This affects how much we tend to eat. Because these foods are associated with the holiday season, we may think that eating them will make the holiday season better. Now, I’m not saying you need to stay away from the foods you like. But it is important to recognize why you’re eating the foods you’re eating. Is it because you genuinely enjoy them or do you simply like the idea of them?
This holiday season, I encourage you to think about the foods you’re having and how much you enjoy them. Take it one step further and think about how the food makes you feel while you’re eating it. Do you feel like you struggle with overeating around the holidays? Well, creating this awareness for yourself can help reduce patterns of overeating.
Let’s talk a little bit more about the social pressure we may feel around the holidays. A lot of us spend more time with extended family and friends we may not have seen in a while. As mentioned earlier, we often attend more holiday parties, family gatherings, and community events. At family gatherings especially, we may feel more pressure to eat the foods available to not offend anyone. This is another reason we tend to overeat.
Do you struggle with saying no to more food after feeling quite satisfied? If you do, I encourage you to set boundaries where you may be lacking them. These boundaries can also be non-food related. The holiday season is well known by many as the busiest time of year. It can bring up commitments and events that make it easy to get burnt out or stressed during this time of year. Taking on too much at once and being surrounded by food can lead to us turning to food for comfort. While that is expected at times, we want to avoid turning it into a habit that can get out of control.
Setting boundaries can be tough, especially if you’re worried about hurting someone’s feelings. One tip is to remember why you’re doing it. Is it for your mental health? Do you have weight loss goals you want to stay on top of? Thinking about the why can make it that much easier to set those boundaries. Just remember, it is ok to be selfish sometimes, and the food will always be there.
Give yourself permission this holiday season:
Something we may find ourselves doing during the holiday season is restricting certain foods because they are “bad”. While it is true that some foods are better for us than others, having the mindset of “good vs bad” can lead to some unhealthy eating patterns. When we restrict a lot of the food we enjoy but have labeled as “bad”, that only makes us want it more. This can ultimately lead to you binging on those foods when no one is around. This is likely to be followed by feelings of guilt or shame which can lead to even further restrictions in the future.
If you have been restricting foods during the holiday season, I encourage you to give yourself permission to eat those foods. Let go of the “good vs bad” mindset and allow yourself to enjoy different foods. Giving yourself permission to eat does not mean going wild and eating everything in sight if that’s what you’re worried about.
The key to giving yourself the permission to enjoy different foods is by finding ways to balance them. Our dietitians always teach our clients that balancing their food is what makes the greatest difference in their energy levels, hunger, and above all satisfaction. What does this mean? It means you’ll want to pair different types of foods together, specifically, a carbohydrate with a protein.
This helps make each meal or snack more satisfying. It slows down digestion to keep you fuller longer and prevents drastic changes in your blood sugars (which can lead to many more issues).
If you are worried about giving yourself permission to eat certain foods or feel like you’ll eat too much, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with our dietitians. Sometimes, just having someone to talk to about your feelings surrounding food can make the greatest difference.
Fuel yourself throughout the day:
If you’re going to be attending a holiday dinner or party involving lots of good food, you may have thought about “saving your calories” for that one meal. This can lead to you being ravenous when it comes time to eat. You may even find yourself overeating. This is what we would call a planned binge, which is a form of disordered eating. It is important to nip habits like this in the bud before they become a regular thing.
You don’t have to starve yourself all day before enjoying a large meal. Reminder: food is fuel. Using your food as fuel throughout the day can help get you to the point where you don’t plan a binge later on. Giving yourself nutrients throughout the day versus just one time a day gives you space to eat more foods you enjoy without feeling overly stuffed, guilty, and ashamed. Next time you’re attending a holiday dinner, make sure you eat your regular meals throughout the day as well.
Paying attention to the way you feel about foods, recognizing your hunger and fullness cues, setting boundaries, and giving yourself permission to eat are all important aspects of having a healthy relationship with food. It is choosing to implement these strategies in a healthy way that will make the greatest difference in your life, whether it is the holiday season or not.
If you feel like you need more guidance and accountability in having a guilt-free holiday season, our dietitians are happy to help!