Are you dreading Holiday gatherings because of food struggles? Opting out is a valid choice but if you are engaging in holiday celebrations, being prepared can help make them enjoyable. Read on about 6 ways to take care of yourself and commit to actually enjoying yourself.
Honor your hunger. Honoring our hunger means being mindful of your body's signals- eating when you are hungry, and stopping when you are full (most of the time).
This means, first and foremost, make your hunger a priority. Take time to eat. Know that you don't need to “save your appetite or wait to eat until the party.” Give yourself unconditional permission to eat when you are hungry. This is key to building trust and attunement with your body. The more you are in tune with and honoring your body’s needs, the more ease you will feel. If you avoid getting overly hungry, you are less likely to trigger primal hunger that leads to eating beyond hunger. Also tune in to your fullness signals, it's ok to eat beyond fullness (if you actually want what you are eating). But if you are eating without checking in with your body, or cleaning your plate rather than eating the amount you wanted, it could be beneficial to be more aware. One downside to eating beyond fullness is that often, it can trigger shame wiring. Sometimes you might find yourself aware that you are full but really wanting to continue eating something because its tasty- If you give yourself permission to stop and eat more later or have it the next time you want it, you may not feel the need to eat beyond fullness. You can get my free hunger scale here to learn how to use this valuable tool.
Eat food. Seriously. Make sure you have a plan to be well fed. Getting over-hungry or not having a plan for our basic meals can cause us to get hangry and lead to overeating. It also diminishes our enjoyment of the festivities.
When shopping be sure you are still getting all the staples for feeding yourself on the regular. Don’t skip meals. When planning for parties, be sure you are planning breakfast and lunch for yourself to eat BEFORE the party so you don’t end up eating everything in sight (think all the cookies) at the party.
The holidays are an extra busy time for most yet it is just as important to get quality nutrition as any other time of the year. This means we have to be efficient and intentional in getting meals handled.
You can save time and energy by ordering from click list or avoiding the congested parking lots and grocery store all together by ordering on prime now. Consider ways to streamline meal prep by carving out time to make freezer meals with a friend, buy pre-cut veggies, or simply planning to make easy meals. The Instant Pot might just be your new best friend. Make a roast, soup or stew on Sundays so you have something ready made in the fridge….I throw in a whole chicken, make some rice and some pre-chopped veggies most weeks- it can be made into stir-fry, Mexican night, curry, and even simply eaten with herbs and butter, so it goes super far in keeping me fed all week.
If you know there is actually just too much to physically get done, or simply want less stress this season, consider temporarily using a meal delivery service if you have the financial means to do so.
Set Boundaries. Does your stomach twist thinking of seeing a family member who comments on your body or food choices? Talk with them in advance about what is bothering you and set the boundaries that feel good to you. If you don’t feel comfortable being around them, it's ok to opt-out. You can read more about this here.
Honor your food needs. You deserve to feel well, making your unique food needs a priority is an act of self-care. It’s important to honor your body by being sure there will be food you will feel good eating.
Plan ahead and bring food you know works for you. If you have any food intolerances or know you feel better eating particular types of food, it's ok to ask what will be served.
Contact the host before the gathering to let them know that you have special food circumstances, ask them to provide you with an idea of what will be served. Tell them they don't need to do anything special but that you want to be prepared. Bring a dish that is complete enough to get you through the party.
Eat foods that are satisfying. Again, seriously. One of my favorite principles of Intuitive Eating is discovering the satisfaction factor! When we eat foods that we really love and savor them, we need less to feel satisfied. Give yourself unconditional permission to eat and enjoy the special holiday foods you love. Rather than eating mindlessly, focus on tasting your food and being present to really experience it.
Make it special without food. Find traditions that light you up, bring you joy, and get you in the holiday spirit without needing food to feel good. If we are satisfied in life, we will not need to rely so much on food for satisfaction.
Some simple beautiful traditions to consider:
Creating space to enjoy non-food centered Holiday traditions can fill us up in a way that no fruit cake can.
A few years ago I hosted a celebratory meal for my group coaching program participants. We said what we were most grateful for, and discussed what we loved about the holidays (and the challenges). One of my guests brought the most beautiful flower centerpiece, it just made my table gorgeous. We took pictures and laughed. I also started another new tradition that night; before the party I wrote a gratitude to each guest, I included what I am thankful for about them - their smile, their warmth, their hugs, their unique talents. At the end of the night, as we said goodbye, I slipped them their card. It made the evening that much more special. My heart swells right now remembering it.
The Holidays have so much magic to enjoy - the smells, the lights, the fire, the decorations, the hugs, and yes, the food! Get into the spirit in ways that fill your heart in addition to your belly.
Want more ideas on navigating the holidays? Check out my other holiday blog posts, Five Steps to Keeping Your Sanity During the Holidays and How to NEVER Put Weight on Your Resolutions List Again
Download your free hunger scale now!
The first step to healing your relationship with food is reconnecting with the signals your body gives you. One of the ways to do that is by checking in with your hunger before you eat. Here's my spin on the traditional hunger scale..