By Kristin Stephens, MS, NTP
This is the second part in a series on healthy eating this holiday season.
With big family dinners and holiday parties right around the corner, it’s good to get a handle on how you feel about your eating habits.
Do you find yourself having trouble saying no to what’s offered? Are you taunted by the cravings you have? Is it difficult for you to slow down and enjoy the food? Do you feel guilty for eating certain things?
If any of these sound familiar, it’s time to get some clarity on your thoughts and feelings. Understanding how you feel surrounding a meal can help you get into a better headspace before you actually begin eating. Here are a few things to get you started.
Preparation is key
If you know the menu ahead of time, review it and make a mental note of which foods you’re genuinely excited to eat. Maybe it’s a new food on the table, or maybe it’s your favorite pie which Grandma makes each year. Also, take note of the foods you’re a little hesitant about, whether they don’t seem too appealing, or they are foods you’ve eaten previously which have left you feeling less than ideal. Make a plan for your plate after you’ve assessed what’s going to be offered.
You have to determine what is a healthy choice and what isn’t. In this case, healthy doesn’t just apply to the nutrient-density of it. It also means you have a healthy emotional response to the food. It means you still feel in control of your choices, while also feeling satisfied.
Foods aren’t ‘bad’ or ‘good’
I do not encourage you to forego foods because you feel they are “bad.” Instead, determine which foods are going to make you feel the best, physically and emotionally, and focus on them. These are not “good” foods, but rather they are foods that won’t cause an adverse reaction for you (beating yourself up, feeling guilty, leading to overindulging, etc.).
Also, decide which foods are absolutely worth it. Some foods may only be made once a year and they are truly a family tradition. Remind yourself of that when you’re at the front of the food line or when the bread basket is being passed around the table. Serve yourself a smaller portion of your aunt’s strange cranberry relish because you’re planning to have grandma’s pecan pie for dessert.
Take in your surroundings
It’s equally as important to notice how others around you are eating because we tend to eat similarly to our table-mates. Are they eating slowly and mindfully? Or are they rushing through the meal barely chewing? It’s sometimes hard to pace ourselves when everyone around us is eating in a hurried manner. Do your best to take a break in between bites, chew your food slowly and thoughtfully, and pause your eating to converse with others at the table.
If you’ve ever felt out of control when it comes to eating anything, it’s very important to admit that and honor it. Decide that you will do better this time and create a mantra for yourself which you can say at anytime under your breath in order for you to feel confident going through the food line or the meal in general.
- It’s okay for me to enjoy food
- I am in control of the food I put into my mouth
- My cravings do not control what I eat
- I eat when I’m hungry
- Food is not good or bad, it just is
Hopefully these mantras and tips will help you navigate your next food-centered gathering.
We’re here to help you create a healthy relationship with food. Contact Pure Nutrition + Wellness at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 844-787-3935 to get started.
Donna Stephens, BCN , CNHP, LDHS
Kristin Stephens, MS, NTP