Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years Eve...they all come so quickly, don't they? As soon as you're finished celebrating one, you barely get a breather before it's time to prepare for the next.
During this time of year, the holiday treats that fly by make us feel like we're in a food fight. Halloween candies, pumpkin pies, sugar cookies, candy canes, and gingerbread men seem to all hurtle towards us at the speed of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
This can be especially overwhelming for those of us who may feel like a "crazy person" around anything sweet and easily "overdo it" until we're sick. I've totally #beentheredone that, and that’s why today I'm sharing a few strategies you can use to instead feel empowered, rational, and in control when presented with holiday treats.
1. Ditch the strict food rules
Regardless of what social media, celebrities, books, and TV shows may tell you, enjoying the occasional treat will not kill you. In fact, research shows that allowing ourselves to enjoy sweets like candy benefits us both physically and mentally in the long run. I'm sure many of us have sworn off sweets until the New Year, only to find ourselves elbow deep in a box of peppermint Oreos a few days later. Instead of following a set of rigid food rules that set us up for failure, guilt, and a poor relationship with food, it may be smarter to give ourselves permission to enjoy our favorite treats.
I talk more about this idea in my blog post, 3 Things I Want You to Know About Sugar. In this blog, I also discuss questions like, “Is sugar addictive?” and “Can sugar be part of a healthy diet?” If you've ever felt guilty about enjoying a sweet treat, this post is for you!
2. Out of sight, out of mind
As a dietitian who believes in the importance of mindful eating and honoring your body’s hunger and fullness cues, I have no problem with satisfying a holiday treat craving. My suggestion, however, is to store treats in a not-so-visible place. For example, in the freezer or cupboard instead of on a coffee table or kitchen countertop. Keeping treats out in plain sight increases our chances of mindlessly scarfing down a sugar cookie or two, even when we’re not really craving one.
3. Enjoy balanced, satisfying meals and snacks
During the holidays, focus on eating regular meals and snacks that are balanced and satisfying. I suggest aiming for at least three of the following on your plate: a source of fat, fiber, carbs, and protein.
Here’s an example: a baked sweet potato (fiber & carbs) + salmon (fat & protein) + green beans (fiber & carbs).
Meals and snacks that include fat, fiber, carbs, and protein keep our bellies full and our blood sugars stable. They help us feel more satisfied and energized, thus preventing the “I just got home from work and now I need to eat everything in sight including this whole bowl of leftover Halloween candy” frenzy.
(If you need extra help building these sort of meals in a way that works best for you and your lifestyle, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about my virtual nutrition counseling).
4. Find an alternative to emotional eating
Listen, I totally understand that sometimes you need a bowl of peanut butter chocolate ice cream to feel better after a rough day. Food has the ability to satisfy us physically and emotionally. Which is kind of amazing, right? Because what would be a birthday party without cake, and what would be a sick day without chicken noodle soup? The important thing to remember when it comes to emotional eating is that it shouldn’t be a habit or a crutch. It’s important to learn how to cope with our emotions with other methods besides food. Instead of plowing through half a pumpkin pie when we’re stressed, we can do other therapeutic activities like calling a parent or a friend, reading a chapter of our favorite book, following a quick yoga video, or going for a walk.
You deserve to feel confident and positive about the food on your plate. By following these steps, you work towards being empowered with food instead of letting food have power of you. #yeahgirl
Did any of this resonate with you? If you would like more guidance on eating well without fear and restriction, send me an email at email@example.com to learn more about my virtual nutrition counseling services!
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