It’s that time of year. Office parties, school events, trips home, grandma’s special dessert, champagne toasts... you know the drill. The holidays can make some giddy with anticipation but trigger others into a flurry of anxiety about how they will manage all of the temptations of eating all things.
Before you jump head first into a tower of sugar cookies, find some quiet time and set your intention towards what you enjoy most about the holiday season. For example, seeing loved ones, watching Christmas movies, attending a religious gathering, baking, etc. Tap into the emotions that arise when you think of these things and be mindful of how you fill your calendar. Set your intention to remind you to prioritize what matters most. Use this intention to help you slow down and enjoy these things by being present.
So what is indulgence? It’s basically allowing oneself to enjoy the pleasure of (insert favorite things here). While this may sound enticing, the key is to indulge mindfully and with intention. What this means is that you make a conscious and deliberate choice before acting on a behavior. When you do choose, remain aware of how you are feeling. Do this objectively, meaning don’t internalize or assign a good or bad value to yourself. Do your best and then consciously move onto the next activity.
For most of us indulgence and food go hand in hand. Picture a glistening table, with mounds of food, piles of cookies, a backdrop of clinking glasses, and the dreaded aftermath of guilt that often follows. The trick to avoiding this trap is looking around the table and seeing the friends and family that surround the table. By indulging in experiences and people you will wake up rejuvenated not depleted. The spiritual and religious beliefs, gratitude, conversations, and shared memories are the real reason for the season. This year make a commitment to indulge in experiences while occasionally adding in your favorite holiday treats. Use food to enhance the experience, but don’t make it the main event.
As you set your intention for this season, consider the following tips to help add more meaning to your holiday.
*Volunteer your time. Volunteering offers help to people in need, worthwhile causes, and benefits your community, but the benefits can be even greater for you. Did you know that volunteering and helping others can help you reduce stress, improve your mood, and provide a sense of purpose? It’s a win-win!
*Host an event and ask the guests to bring a dish that represents their family history or that is a reflection of themselves. Have everyone share the story behind the dish during the meal. Indulge in the emotions, history, and tradition behind the meal; eating just enough to feel satisfied but not sluggish.
*Holidays are about traditions and with traditions come food. It’s okay to indulge in your favorite treats but be mindful of this process. Eat without guilt. As they say in Whole30 land, food is not good or bad it’s just food. The trick is eating just enough of your favorite dishes to feel satisfied. Follow a few strategies for in the moment success by Melissa Hartwig in Food Freedom Forever to indulge without consequence.
- Deep breaths. Stop, take a few slow breaths, proceed.
- “I can have it later.” Can you have this food later? If so try waiting 15 minutes, an hour, etc.. If you still want it have it but the pause will help decrease impulsive eating.
- Employ distraction. Take a break, walk away, start a conversation, basically don’t stand all night over your favorite dip and question why you can’t stop thinking about it.
- Savor it. Sit down, grab a plate, eat slowly, have fun, and enjoy.
- The one bite rule. Was it amazing? Have another bite. Not so much? It’s okay to stop. If it’s not worth it don’t keep eating!
*Finally, skip the negative self-talk. Whether that little voice is criticizing how much you have eaten, how much you didn’t get done, or worrying about making everyone happy, tell it to stop. Self-criticizing is so last season! We are headed into a new year that welcomes self-acceptance and self-love. Most of the time this negative voice comes from ourselves, not others. Give yourself grace and let go of the unrealistic expectations this year. How about indulging in self-acceptance for a jump on your new year’s resolutions?
However you choose to celebrate this holiday season, may it bring peace joy and comfort to everyone around your table.
In health and happiness, Amanda