Holidays are a time for relaxation, celebration, vacation, and (my favorite) staycation! However, this time of year is often anything but relaxing. From the food to the conversations, holiday meals can let off some heat (and I’m not referring to the heat of your kitchen!) In a previous article, I discussed the potential for inevitable comments that can leave you second-guessing your food choices. When building a positive relationship with food, it’s important to learn how to respond to such criticism.
But the stress may not end there. Consider these 5 tips to not only build confidence around your dinner table but to also find more freedom and enjoyment throughout the season.
#1 Prepare Your Appetite (with Food!) & #2: Be Consistent
If your “saving calories” for your meal, then you’re setting a vulnerable landscape to overeat. Now listen… we all overeat at times. It’s part of life! However, if you’re anxious about the aftermath of overeating, then you’ll want to reassess. Planning consistent meals and snacks throughout the days and hours leading up to a big meal will stabilize blood sugar, improve your mood, and keep you alert. As a result, you’ll be more inclined to make feel-good choices while listening to your innate feelings of fullness and satisfaction.
#3: Set Intentions
Holidays are filled with foods that are often richer and more indulgent. This can be overwhelming, especially if you have a history of disordered eating and are currently working towards building a positive relationship with food. If you’re anxious, then spend time prior to the meal to jot down specific intentions. For example, “I will choose the dessert that appeals to me most, then I will sit down and eat it mindfully.” Remember: choosing healthier alternatives may leave you with a false sense of fullness. Physical fullness is not the same as true satisfaction.
With so much talk about health, nutrition, and food, we can easily head into the holidays with tunnel vision. Realize that the holidays are also a time to socialize and celebrate. While delicious food is a fun holiday feature, it does not have to be the sole priority of your holiday. Spend time catching up with family and friends. If you’re an introvert (like me!), then consider other dinner time activities like planning a group gift exchange or volunteering in the kitchen.
#5: Be Easy on Yourself
The holidays are not the norm. Schedules are off and day-to-day routines change. If you’re someone who thrives with routine (hi!), then remind yourself: it’s temporary. Give yourself permission to enjoy these experiences as they only come once, twice, or a few times a year. Whether that includes trying different foods, eating past fullness, and/or exercising a bit less, it’s okay to take this time for yourself. Most important, remember that no single food or instance will ever make or break your health! Enjoy it.