Is it really going to be Thanksgiving next week? I still can't believe how time flies now that I'm an old granny! Scary. As the holidays fast approach, while most of us are excited to see family and friends and enjoy the extra time with them, we're also concerned with what we put into our mouths. The average person does put on weight over the holidays, and we do enjoy foods that we don't normally have access to for the remainder of the year.
My goal over the holidays first and foremost is to enjoy my family. The time that I spend with them will be less enjoyable if I am stuffed to the gills full of foods that aren't necessarily the best choices for my body.
Although I do indulge in some out of the ordinary treats during the holidays, I don't go overboard. I just listen to my body.
I generally try to follow a process before eating. They're not rules, just a series of questions that I ask myself before I eat, and this especially comes into play when it's something out of the ordinary (a cookie at the mall, a brownie sundae at dinner, choices at a huge family buffet-style dinner, etc).
Often, if I come across something that I "must" eat, I realize that the simple fact that it's in front of me is the only reason why I want to eat it.
There's nothing particularly scientific about these questions, they're just things that help me identify what is making me want to eat something. Maybe your questions are different.
1) On a scale of 1-10, how much do I want to eat it?
If I answer anything less than a 5 to this question, I just walk away. It's not worth it to me. I'd rather walk away now and reserve myself for a moment when I'm feeling something at an "8" or a "10"!
2) Have I eaten a healthy meal already within the past 2 hours?
This is a very very important factor that I learned in treatment. When I haven't had a balanced meal recently, I tend to crave things that I wouldn't normally eat. It's kind of like going to the grocery store when you're starving.
3) Is there a healthier alternative that I would rather have?
Let's just put it right out there. Your girl loves cupcakes. And chocolate chip cookies. And crunchy wonderful potato chips and dip. These are just the facts, people. However, in order to maintain a healthy body, I know that I just can't eat these things as often as my mind might think that I should. I don't generally have these things in my house, but if I want them, I can go buy them.
However, if I want a cupcake, I might also be able to squash the craving with a square of organic 75% dark chocolate. To satisfy my craving for potato chips, I can also thinly slice some sweet potatoes, sprinkle with sea salt, and bake them crispy.
There is always another option, and unless I'm pretty high on my "how bad do I want this" scale, I'll usually choose the alternative.
4) Can I eat this item on any given day?
I prefer to save my moments for the times when I can eat something special. An extravagant birthday cake, something homemade by a friend or relative, or something that I just haven't had in years. If it's a Snickers bar that I'm eyeballing, I will usually just pass it by.
5) Can I sit down and eat this, or am I going to have to do a grab-stand-stuff number?
Another thing that I learned in treatment is that by sitting down and actually eating, it helps me to eat slower, and I can enjoy the process. Especially when I'm eating something out of the ordinary, I want to really enjoy it!
In applying these questions to holiday eating, it can get become tricky. Most of the food that is offered for the holidays are things that I don't eat for the rest of the year. However, not all of the food that I'm presented with are things that I genuinely want to eat. I do pick and choose between the things that I eat, but if I want to have a piece of pumpkin pie now, and a piece of apple pie in an hour, I most certainly will.
In the case of holidays, I am a strong believer in indulgence. In my opinion, this is part of the culture of my own family, and I won't let food restrictions get in the way of this. I will not be eating meat, but I will be eating cookies. Lots of cookies.
I know that my entire healthy lifestyle will not be altered over the course of 4 weeks of indulgence through the holidays. I also know that around December 27th, my body is ready to get back on track with the regularly scheduled programming, and that I'm not going to "ruin" my entire life with holiday indulgence.
With all of that in mind, indulgence does not always equate to gluttony. Gluttony makes me physically uncomfortable, so I try to avoid that feeling if at all possible.
So, this work for me!
What works for you?
Do you have a process by which you handle out-of-the ordinary food choices?
Do you plan ahead for the holidays in terms of food choices?
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