The Secret to a Stress-Free Holiday Season
The holidays are a stressful time for anyone struggling with food and weight issues. The emphasis on spending time with family and celebrating with food can be tormenting. You may find yourself overwhelmed by commitments and ignoring your own needs as you fulfill the expectations of others. You may also wonder how you’re going to get through the holidays without isolating and still manage to eat a healthy diet. Thankfully, the fact is that all foods, even traditional holiday treats, can fit into a healthy eating plan. The secret is moderation and balance.
Navigating the Neverending Parties
One of the season’s biggest challenges is the seemingly ubiquitous buffet-style party. Whether it’s an actual serve-yourself dinner or grandma’s spread that’s meant to be snacked on all day, it seems that every holiday gathering has some type of variation on the buffet. Unfortunately, these types of parties may look like trouble to those who are working through their eating issues. However, with a little bit of planning regarding your eating habits and some mental preparation, you can put your worries to rest and enjoy the season freely. Let the following checklist be your guide:
- Plan ways to feel more comfortable around food. Be realistic about your goals. Dispel myths of “good and bad” foods. Try not to count calories. If you find yourself doing this, distract yourself with planned thoughts or other methods of distraction.
- Be sure to consistently eat three meals a day to help avoid the desire to binge. Eating adequately during the day means you won’t be overly hungry when you arrive at the party while skimping or skipping meals makes it more likely you’ll make poor food choices and overeat.
- Plan to allow yourself to eat “treats” and “extras.” This is important to prevent deprivation. Additionally, try eating a healthy snack right before the party. Being hungry can sabotage even the strongest will.
Handling the Buffet Table
- When you arrive at the party, don’t rush to the food. Greet people you know, get a non-alcoholic beverage and settle in first.
- Be present when approaching the buffet table, take a deep breath and remind yourself that you are not at the party to eat, but to be with people.
- Make only one trip to the buffet table and be selective. Negotiate and choose only a few high fat/high calorie items. Remind yourself that this isn’t the only time of year you are allowed your favorite foods.
- Keep portions small. Often, a taste is all you’ll need to satisfy your craving or curiosity. Remember to be present and mindful, tasting and chewing your food well
- Plan for possible discomfort around feelings of fullness. Distract yourself by engaging in pleasurable activities.
- Avoid the scale.
- If you feel yourself starting to panic because you’re feeling too full or have allowed yourself to eat foods you consider forbidden, remind yourself that it’s ok to eat, that food will not make you fat and it’s normal to eat more during the holidays. Look around you and notice that others are full too. Notice that they have not become visibly fatter after eating a big meal.
Be sure to check out the blog in the weeks to come as we’ll continue with part 2 of Eating Disorders and the Holidays and go over some of the stressful social aspects of the holidays. And if the struggle of the holidays is too much right now, don’t hesitate to reach out. Call 855-404-2718 to begin a new life.