Do you travel to see relatives or friends for the holiday season? Does being around family bring up past stressors/traumas? Do you feel guilty or embarrassed not partaking in holiday traditions that no longer fit with your lifestyle (these may include but are not limited to – eating home cooked dinner rolls, Grandma’s pecan pie, or Aunt Sue’s famous stuffing and possibly drinking alcohol)?
Here are some tips to avoid those awkward encounters and reduce potential feelings of uneasiness.
- PLAN AHEAD! Could you offer to bring roasted veggies or a yummy gluten-free and refined sugar-free sweet potato casserole? This could be an opportunity to create new traditions for your family replacing the not-so-energizing food options that show up on the typical holiday spread.
- HALT and consider your body’s warning signs, before automatically reaching for food. We tend to reach for food when we are not even hungry. Many times emotions versus a true metabolic hunger mimic the absolute NEED for an oversized double-stuffed-chocolate-fudge-walnut-topped-brownie. So check in during this holiday season. Are you really hungry? Or is some other situation or feeling creating the urge to lean on food as comfort?
- Hungry– Check in with yourself. If you are truly hungry and this drive is not clouded by another emotion, then eat. You can also check in with yourself and assess your hunger level during your meal or before you go back for seconds. This can prevent overeating and the post-holiday meal crash. It can take up to 20 minutes to feel full, so give yourself that time. The food will be there. So if you are a little bit hungry after the meal, then you can make a conscious choice to have a bit more.
- Angry– Instead of being hungry maybe you are actually angry. Is some anger coming up around your obnoxiously opinionated relative? Did someone just cut you off in traffic? Forget the dessert you made at home? Upset you are missing the football game because Aunt Sally has a “fun” family game to play? Remember to BREATHE, get some air, or use exercise as a preventative measure! If anger is coming up then do what you know you need to do to address that emotion before turning to anger comfort in a slice of pumpkin pie.
- Lonely– Are you really lonely instead? Do you need to phone a friend? It’s possible to feel isolated in the presence of a crowd. Remember your network of supportive friends and loved ones if you need some encouragement.
- Tired– Are you absolutely exhausted? Too many celebrations? If you have a post-meal ritual that involves going horizontally onto the bed or couch, this might be a signal your body is getting too much or the wrong foods! Or maybe you have the opposite problem, and you’re wiped out from carrying the ENTIRE Thanksgiving hoopla on your shoulders year after year. If that’s the case, remember to delegate and say no when your plate is full!
- COMMUNICATE OPENLY with your loved ones about your lifestyle and explain this is not a diet or a phase. Say it with CONFIDENCE. If you talk about your dietary/lifestyle choices like you mean it that makes a difference. It’s all about how you say it!
- TRAVELING? Pack energizing and nutritious snacks for the flight or car ride. Can you find a health food grocery store or a new farm-to-table restaurant to explore while you’re away? If there are old friends who want to catch up between meals, could you go for a walk instead of hitting your favorite pastry shop?
Remember these suggestions are tools to optimize SELF CARE and SELF LOVE. This is so important, and we must remember to prioritize our wellness even when it is less convenient than normal. There are always solutions!
Finally, if you choose to eat your favorite fudge pie or any indulgence remember to ENJOY it. There should be no shame or guilt around food holidays or not!