The holiday season is upon us. It’s a time of celebrations, family time, new and old traditions and of course, food. Though there’s a lot of joy that comes with this time of year, we know there can also be some stress too. Maybe you’re worried about eating more indulgent food than normal or eating past a comfortable level of fullness because there are so many delicious foods available. So how do we instead indulge without overdoing it? Here are four tips.
Don’t Skip Meals
It might seem tempting to skip a meal before a large holiday gathering, but that’s not generally a great idea. We are more likely to eat past fullness when we haven’t eaten enough throughout the day. Think of our hunger like a pendulum; if we swing too far to one side (extreme hunger), we’re more likely to swing hard to the other side (eat past fullness) once we sit down to eat. Instead, try going into a meal or snack with a moderate hunger level and leave feeling pleasantly full, but not stuffed. For help assessing your hunger, try using our hunger scale.
Mindfulness can help us have a more enjoyable eating experience. Mindful eating is all about awareness, so it’s helpful to pause for a moment to consider the tastes and textures we’re looking for. If we find ourselves overly hungry for a meal or snack, consider the last eating occasion; was it enough? Did it have a good variety? Maybe we’re looking for a certain food group because we didn’t have much of it today yet. While we often imagine mindful eating as a glamorous moment of bliss before taking a bite, it can really be as simple as taking a couple of seconds to consider some of these questions before we start eating. While eating, try checking in with your hunger as you go and stop eating when you are pleasantly full.
Reconsider Your Food Rules
We know that there’s a lot of nutrition information to digest in the media today. Too often, this information makes us feel like we can’t eat this food or that one. But too many rules about what we can and cannot eat – except for medically induced food rules for allergies, can cause more stress. Consider loosening the rigid rules around food. We often feel chaotic when presented with food that we have labeled as bad or off-limits. To feel more at peace with food, you might consider eating some of those previously off-limits foods so that they no longer cause anxiety. It can help to do this in a comfortable environment, like with a friend or non-judgmental family member.
When in Doubt, Make Sure You Have a Well-balanced Plate
The basic tenets of healthy eating – balance, variety and moderation, are still relevant even during the holidays and even when you want to indulge. Indulging in a meal that is rich or sweet doesn’t need to be a hectic experience. It should be an enjoyable one! It can be helpful to build your plate with many different food groups to ensure you feel full and satisfied by whatever you choose to eat. This might take a few tries, which isn’t a bad thing because we have several opportunities to eat each day.
Remember, this Season does not Last Forever
If you happen to overdo it this holiday season, remember that your body knows how to handle the food you’ve eaten. If you happen to overindulge a few times over the holiday season, or don’t eat as healthfully as usual, don’t be alarmed. When it comes to good nutrition, what matters is our eating patterns over the long haul. Enjoy the season and go back to the basics when you feel you need to find balance again.