Yep, I think we can officially say the holidays are here. That means plenty of Christmas baking, extra treats, specialty coffees (complete with chocolate sauce and whipped cream) and perhaps a little more time being comfy and cozy on the couch.
I think that this holiday, you should eat what you want.
WHAT? A health coach telling you that you should eat what you want? Sweet!
Now, before you fall face first into a slab of figgy pudding, let me explain.
I want you to eat what you want; what you really, truly, honest to goodness want.
A lot of extra nibbling and eating happens when we eat things that we don’t truly want (in an effort to avoid the decadent chocolate cheesecake, we overdo the ‘healthy’ hummus and crackers, cheese and fruit, and then pick away at the cheesecake anyway).
Or we eat without stopping to simply ask ourselves “do I want this?”
We have a few samples of treats while standing at the fridge; we grab a sample at the grocery store while on a mad rush for those last few items on the list. While your emotional self doesn’t register this eating as actual eating (you’ll still desire a meal after mindless snacking), your physical-self does. In other words, the unnecessary calories actually still count.
So, this holiday simply ask yourself one question before eating:
Do I really want to eat this (list specific food)?
Why did I say specific food? Because if you’re like most people, you’ll often find yourself craving a little something-something when you come home from work (and don’t really know what you want… you just want something sweet!), or you find yourself scouring the kitchen cupboards after the kiddos are in bed. It’s likely that you really don’t want to eat something- you want to cope with another emotion, such as stress, anxiety or boredom. I’ll give some pointers to help with cravings in a bit.
If the answer is yes (and it often will be). Ask one more time: do I really want this?
Now, be honest. If you do really want to eat a specific food, then give it the attention the food deserves. Sit down, and enjoy every bite: the tastes and the textures. So often we say we love food… and think about it all day long, but when it comes time to eat, we do just the opposite. We shovel it into our mouths, and hurriedly eat, barely giving ourselves time to chew, while our mind wanders to what we’ll do after we’re done, or while watching the television).
Part way through, pause, and ask “do I really want to keep eating?” At this point, consider how you’re feeling. Do you really want to feel heavy and bloated after over-eating? Are you still enjoying the food as much as you were at the beginning? Are you eating just because you’re bored?
If you really want to keep eating, then keep enjoying your food. If it’s no, then be kind to yourself and save the food for later.
And yes, I get that while this is simple, it’s not necessarily easy. But you’ve done hard things before and feeling good in your body is worth it.
-With much love and joyful eating,
P.S. While I did focus on the holidays, these strategies are very useful all year round. Eat what you really want, and enjoy it.
P.P.S. Here are are a few tips to help you out:
- Fuel your body with fat, protein and fibre. If you skip any of these three nutrients, (especially protein!) you’ll be more inclined to crave a sugary pick me up a few hours later (think coffee and a few Timbits). Fat, protein and fibre help to stabilize your blood sugar and prevents that energy crash. Example of protein include eggs, Greek yogurt, a high quality protein powder, meat, cheese, cottage cheese, and some soy products. Healthy fats include nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil and coconut oil. Good sources of fibre (with little sugar) are whole grains such as quinoa, slow cooking oats, and veggies.
- Keep the ‘crack’ out of the house. If you are ‘addicted’ to a certain food and find that you can’t stop at just a few bites of moderation, be kind to yourself and keep it out of the house. Even healthy food can be a culprit. For example, a while back I would have a craving and eat 3-4 tablespoons of almond butter (natural and organic, but not portion controlled!) while standing at the kitchen counter. I no longer buy it.
- Find another way to cope with your emotions. I get it- this advice is easier said than done. But, usually cravings occur at consistent times each day, and from the same triggers. For example, it’s been a hard day at work, and you need to unwind. Think of a replacement for using food to de-stress, or for entertainment when you’re bored. Perhaps a 10 minute stretching session will help you relax, or reading a good book. If you’re bored, create a list of activities you can do to occupy your time.