We are deep into the holiday season and as one who has struggled with my weight and overeating, believe me, I know this can be the most treacherous time of the year.
I would do just about anything to avoid once again starting the New Year with having to undo the ‘damage’ all the holiday eating can do or avoid feeling continuously physically uncomfortable after each encounter with holiday goodies, parties, etc. I hated feeling so out of control around food.
Before I had completely eliminated my desire to overeat, I COMMITTED to a few simple strategies that worked not only during the holidays but throughout my daily life.
- Eat Only When Hungry. I wrote about this strategy in a previous blog post but it’s the simple method of just checking in before and after you eat on a Hunger Scale. I committed to eating only when I was truly hungry – a 4 or below on the scale. If I wasn’t there, I didn’t eat. And I stopped eating when satisfied – around a 6. This kept me mindful if I did eat at any holiday gathering and also if I found myself surrounded by holiday goodies at work, etc.
- Eat Mindfully. This is a big one. When eating, avoid distractions (no TV, computer, phone, reading a book, etc). And only eat while sitting down. This will make your choices very conscious and you will enjoy each bite. You will also be present to your hunger cues. If you commit to this one, then while you are at parties, etc. it’s very difficult to eat mindfully with all of the people you are talking to, finding a place to sit, etc. So it’s often just easier to just not eat. When eating mindfully, you eat less, make better choices, and are better able to stay connected to your hunger and satiety cues.
- Eat a Meal (and avoid snacking). When my body told me I was hungry (see above scale), I would eat a meal – instead of just snacking my way through the day. I ate until satisfied and when I did that, I RARELY needed a snack. Instead of a snack, the next time I was truly hungry, I would eat a meal again. I avoid snacking (you can read my blog about why). I planned out my meals in advance so I had a plan and knew what I would be eating when it was meal time AND I was actually hungry. This avoided last minute decisions that were based on being hungry and wanting to eat NOW – which would a lot of time would end in making poorer choices. So – each week I would make a general meal plan so I would know what I was planning on eating for the meal, have the ingredients on hand and it avoided last minute crazy decisions. I would plan out 3 meals for each day but ALWAYS checked in with my hunger levels before eating. This sometimes lead to eating only 2 times a day or at times that were not always considered ‘normal’ meal times. Our bodies know what they need and when we listen we generally eat a lot less than we think we will. AND we begin to truly trust ourselves.
- Be Kind. If I did struggle and overeat, I was kind to myself about it. It doesn’t help the healing process if we continue to beat ourselves up over our mistakes. We don’t heal through hate – we only heal through love – so if you do end up overeating, just be kind and move forward. I’ve written about this as well.
Committing to these 4 strategies is how I truly begin to heal my relationship with food – and they definitely helped me get through those sticky holiday situations. I found that I rarely really wanted to eat all of that holiday food (and being completely whole foods plant based limited my options anyway) and I never felt ‘deprived’. I wasn’t hungry, I felt good about myself, and I knew that if I overate on those foods, I would feel physically and emotionally unwell. I truly wanted to honor my body and my needs and making the commitment to these strategies really helped me do that.
So this holiday season, make the commitment to yourself to truly honor and love yourself because isn’t that what this season is all about?
Would love to hear your thoughts on these strategies or how how they work for you! Please let me know what strategies YOU have found are helpful to you.
And I hope you have a happy and joyous holiday season!