Going into the holidays invites excitement, but for a lot of people, it also means feeling a lot of stress…particularly stress around family relationships and stress around gaining weight.
There is often a vicious cycle that happens: feeling stress–>turn to food for comfort—> feel guilty—> beat self up—-> feeling stress; repeat cycle.
For those of you who are conscious eaters or have a certain eating style (paleo, vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, weight watchers, insert your eating style here), it can be increasingly stressful since there may be many holidays meals shared at friends and family members’ homes.
It’s not uncommon for my clients to feel more anxious around food and weight gain around this time of year.
So here are some tips to support you to stay grounded through the holidays, regardless of your eating style.
- SET BOUNDARIES
Boundaries are about stating the imaginary lines of your personal comfort zone to create and maintain mental, physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.
When it comes to maintaining healthy boundaries to stay out of family “drama”, proactively have assertive heart to heart chats with the family members to let them know what your boundary is, and that if they cross your boundary, you will cue them with a code word, and how you will behave (e.g., walk away), shall they continue to cross your boundary.
When it comes to food policers (“Are you going to eat all that?!”, “Wow you eat a lot!”, “you’re not eating enough!”) and food pushers (“Come on, have another bite!”), you will definitely need to state your boundaries.
For food policers, you can state: “I would appreciate it if you just let me choose what I want to eat and not comment about it. Let’s talk about something more important than what I’m eating”.
For food pushers, politely state “Thank you but I am feeling satisfied right now and would like to hold off. I may try it in a bit” and redirect the attention to another topic.
2) HYDRATE with H20 and Drink Green Tea
Most likely you will be eating food with more salt and sugar, so drink a lot of water and green tea. Green tea has plenty of antioxidants and there are studies that show that green tea has been shown to boost the metabolic rate and increase fat burning in the short term. Plus, I personally find green tea soothing to drink.
3) BRING YOUR OWN DISH TO SHARE
When it comes to family dinners, if you have a certain eating style that you know may not be met at the guests’ home, bring a dish of your own that accommodates your eating style to share with the guests.
Now I also have a disclaimer with this suggestion because it really depends on your mindset. If you have a very strict, structured, rigid way of eating and you’re “afraid” of eating other foods because you will “get fat”, bloat, gain weight, etc. (and not because of healthy reasons like having a severe allergic reaction), then I caution you to check in with yourself to ask yourself, “Am I bringing this food because I fear eating foods outside of my eating style?” If the answer is yes, then I suggest connecting with me to coach you to stop fearing food for good
4) PUT SOCIALIZING IN THE FOREGROUND and FOOD IN THE BACKGROUND
Food is very central to holiday events, and of course it is associated with love and celebration. There is nothing wrong with this. What isn’t helpful is when people focus so much on the food in ways that gets them obsessed about it, and forgetting that holiday events are also about connecting with others, having fun, and being grateful for things in life. So I encourage you to focus on social relationships, and have 3 questions in mind to ask people so that you can focus on learning more about them (and think less about food).
5) EAT MINDFULLY
When it is time to eat, check in with yourself using a mental hunger scale from 1-5, where 1 = hungry and 5= almost uncomfortably full. You want to eat to the point of 4, which is energy. You could have another bite, but you could also leave it and move on to the next activity. This is a practice, and it will take some trial-and-error to figure out what a 4 feels like for you.
6) KEEP YOUR SELF-CARE RITUALS
Even if you’re away from home, proactively create some self-care rituals to help you stay grounded. So for me personally, I like to make sure I get at least 20-30 minutes exercise time in daily.
If I’m away, I will- ahead of time- research where the gym is or yoga classes or even just know that I can go outside for a walk/run or YouTube 20 minute workout videos that involve body weight (or my kids as my weights!)
Moving my body is really important for me to stay energized, relieve stress and get those endorphins going (which creates the “runner’s high”). Plus it’s just nice to have some personal space away.
I also continue to start my day with positive affirmations and breathe in my Young Living Essential Oils. And for my nighttime self-care ritual, hot showers are a must.
So I encourage you to think of 3 self-care rituals to engage in throughout the day to keep those as your grounding points.
Enjoy your holiday season, from my family to yours!!!
Rosalyn Fung, M.Sc., Holistic Body Love Coaching