Food is usually the most important (and challenging) part about staying healthy. This is even more true during the holiday season when our will is tested by popular comfort foods.
Even as a personal trainer and nutrition specialist, I struggle at this time of the year! That’s why I’m sharing five mindset shifts that have helped me and my clients to manage emotional eating, weight cycling and overdoing it over the holidays. If you can stay balanced now, it will make a January refresh much easier for you!
1. Forget about diet perfection
A perfect day of eating doesn’t exist. There are so many variables you would need to keep track of for a 100% perfect nutrient value day that you’d quickly all into obsession; it’s not just about calories or macros. So stop being so hard on yourself if you didn’t do it perfectly. Getting it right most of the time will take you much further than perfection!
The less you stress about eating 100% correctly, the more likely you are to end that awful guilt and binge cycle. Try to stay balanced over the next few weeks but also go ahead and enjoy your favorite holiday dishes!
2. Get away from numbers
Yes, you do need a caloric deficit to lose weight and yes, tracking your macros (fat, carbs and protein) will help you do that BUT focusing on the numbers is not the sustainable way forward.
Do you really want to check the calories of every piece of pie, mashed potatoes and gravy pour that you eat over the holidays? Wouldn’t you rather just enjoy good food with close family and friends and leave those numbers behind?
Constantly hitting numbers is unrealistic without absolute food control. Unless you’re baking every single thing you eat this holiday season, let the counting obsession come to an end.
Trust that you CAN maintain your fitness level WITHOUT tracking anything. Wouldn’t you rather think of gravy as that delicious sauce your pour over everything vs. how many calories it adds to your day?
3. Practice mindful eating
Mindful eating means savouring food as you’re eating it. A lot of times we rush through our meals, which makes them less satisfying AND reduces satiety – that feeling of “fullness.” As you may know already, the less satisfying your meals, the more you’ll want to eat.
This is why you’ll notice a big drop in urges to snack or eat extra when you stop, sit and leave at least 15 minutes or more to eat your meals. Give your body time to taste the food you eat and digest it in order to feel the most belly satisfaction.
It might feel like you must have seconds of your favorite comfort food (and maybe you do) but fully enjoy those first bites first!
The more often you give yourself the freedom to indulge, the less your body and mind will rebel against you and take you into binge cycle.
Over the holidays, it’s especially important to indulge because food is such a strong part of celebrations and social connection.
Indulging means eating less healthy foods without overdoing it. It means enjoying reasonable portions of your favourite holiday foods without any feelings of guilt or anxiety.
It’s important to indulge MINDFULLY because that’s part of what makes life and food enjoyable. Indulging over the holidays also helps you to feel that you’re a part of the festivities and not missing out on any enjoyment.
5. Be aware of the indulgences you eat
Acknowledge what you’re eating, accept it and move on but don’t deny that you just had what you had. If you ate two pieces of pumpkin pie, admit it.
Staying aware of indulgences is important because it allows you to self-regulate and practice balance. By admitting what you’ve eaten and accepting it, you help yourself to enjoy good food without the emotional eating turmoil or guilt that often comes the day after.
Which of these mindset shifts will you try to put into action over the holidays?