Eating At the Holidays Will Be SO MUCH EASIER After You Read This!
My goal with this post is to help make holiday eating a whole lot easier… and to break some powerful myths that are making women unnecessarily go crazy!
The holiday binge followed by the January purge are a sad society trademark. And it’s fueled by marketing and a lot of unhealthy advice disguised as “healthy tips” for the holidays these days. I see it everywhere in simple, seemingly harmless “tips.”
Here’s the truth, all these tips are based on obsessing about every calorie you put in your mouth at the holidays.
And it is hard and exhausting. Being stressed, feeling shame and guilt, and most importantly feeling “fat” by the end of 2018 is the goal of this propaganda. So you’ll buy their program and potions and magical fixes. Simply put, you will be surrounded by all the myths and lies throughout the holdiays. We all know them so well:
“You will gain 10-15 pounds.”
“You will not be able to control yourself at parties.”
“You will hate your body by December 31st and need to go on a diet.”
“Do eat this, don’t eat that. Do eat at this time. Don’t eat at that time.”
And on and on it goes.
Start to listen carefully. In general, the underlying message of most ads is that you must become scared of all food or you will never reach your health goals or be “thin.”
Inevitably, you will become so crazy by the end of December that you will be willing to give your hard-earned money to any “influencer” you are following on social media for their January “detox” program that promises to make everything better, or even more sadly, from health professionals offering diet programs promising to help you “be your healthiest yet.”
In reality they are just going to starve you with yet another low-calorie program that was never designed with long-term success in mind - just short-term results hailed with those “before and after pictures” that flood your social media feed.
Worse yet, many of these programs cost a pretty penny of your hard-earned money because strategic, fear-mongering marketing has been beat into your head for basically two straight months about how fat you’ve become over the holidays and why you’d better start the New Year off losing weight.
Here are the hard facts as to why as a culture we spend $66 billion dollars on diet programs/products a year but are the most unhealthy we have ever been. Ever.
Despite spending all that money, according to the Centers for Disease Control, 69.2% of Americans over age 20 are classified medically as overweight or obese (that’s 155 million Americans).
I hope you can see how this is not adding up!
People are trying to be healthy. Hello, they spent $66 billion dollars! But these diet product and programs are clearly failing or the numbers for obesity would not continue to go up. Simply put, our culture is following poor, unsustainable advice based on quick fixes that will never create long-term health and the research shows this.
Sadly, even our medical community will often tell people to do quick-fixes and not actually base their weight loss recommendations on the latest research, which is why everyone is confused and not feeling good!
You’ve probably heard these myths, believe them yourself, or know many friends and family who do. And that’s totally ok and not surprising because we are drowned in these lies from the moment we’re born practically. But I want to show you why they really are a myth. Ready?
THE NAUGHTY LIST: MYTHS WE NEED TO STOP BELIEVING
Myth #1: Diets help you lose weight and get healthy.
Would you keep doing something that is expected to work and give sustainable results only 3% of the time? Well, that is what research show about ALL diets. 97% of all people will not only fail to lose any weight, but they will gain MORE weight after doing a diet within three years.
Regular dieters have 3 times the risk of becoming obese than someone who does not diet. Isn’t it interesting how something that is promoted to help you reduce weight gain is actually causing an increase.
Studies show that conventional calorie counting programs fail LONG-TERM for 19 out of 20 people. WHY?
STARVATION ISN'T SUSTAINABLE.
I’ve never has a client that HAS succeeded by reducing and counting calories. They come to me after those methods have failed. Diets don’t work.
Myth #2: You gain so much weight during the holidays!
Despite the myth of 10-15 pound weight gain at the holidays, research has not found this to be true.
In fact, the average person gains ONE POUND at the holidays.
Yes, let me say that one more time, most people gain ONE POUND at the holidays and you are being led to believe that if your pants even remotely feel tighter (which could be due to so many reasons) that you must have gained 10 pounds.
The diet industry and people pedaling programs play into your FEARS.
If they can make you believe that you really have “ruined” it all (without taking the time to take a step back and really evaluate if this information is true), you will suddenly be signed up for a 6-week boot camp that is going to exhaust you, make you starving, irritable, and worse yet, after you make it to the end, and slowly all results fade away (because all diets will fail due to biology, which I discuss further in the next myth), and then you will blame yourself, your body, and berate yourself for something that was never destined to work in the first place.
Myth #3: You must restrict yourself at the holidays to stay healthy.
So many people are being taught to believe that micromanaging food is the only way you can meet your goals, or worse yet, if you don’t go crazy managing your food you will lose all the healthy results you have noticed with choosing better-for-you choices. But it clearly doesn’t work because, if it did, we’d all be doing it!
Here’s why it doesn’t work (and it’s one of the many reasons diets don’t work).
When you restrict calories, it actually increases your cravings for food. It’s your body’s biological way of trying to help you not starve! You then binge and overeat, and gain more weight than if you’d simply ate nourishing foods for your body from the very beginning.
Think of it this way. Skipping your 400 calorie lunch leaves you overly hungry by the time the party arrives and you end up binging on 2,000 calories in all the things! It would have been well worth it to keep your body nourished and fueled with lunch.
THE NICE LIST: HEALTHY HOLIDAY EATING STRATEGIES
So now that I have showed you how you may be believing some big myths that are actually preventing you from enjoying and having a stress-free holiday, let’s talk about some tools that will really help you enjoy them fully.
But first, let’s set some ground rules.
Because here’s the truth, just because you realize that you need to change how you are doing things, doesn’t mean it happens naturally or overnight.
Remember that you are trying your best with these suggestions, and if you don’t at first succeed, YOU DID NOT FAIL, you learned information that you can use to do better next time.
When you learn to stop judging yourself for every time you did something that you thought was best in the moment or you were just to overwhelmed to come up with a good solution, you LEARN that you want to do it differently next time because you didn’t like how you felt after or it didn’t work.
There is nothing wrong with that!
It’s called life and we all need to start realizing that life = failure. What matters is how you see that “failure” and what you do with it.
Healthy people see failure as a chance to learn. You have to be willing to fail to succeed.
So here are new ways to approach holiday party/event tools that will allow you to have a stress-free holiday:
1. Honor your food restrictions.
If you have a real food allergy, sensitivity, or intolerance, honor those. If you know certain foods make you down right sick, skip them. That is taking care of yourself.
To make this happen plan ahead to try some of your favorite holiday dishes/sweets made with substitutions that will allow you to still have your holiday loves, but not get sick in the process.
Note: Sometimes these recipes don’t taste exactly like the original, embrace the adventure. If something flops, FINE! Did you have fun in the process? Are you proud for trying? Yes! Too many people focus on what they can’t have, instead of what they CAN have.
Focus on all your CANS and have a blast.
For some of my tips on how to successfully ask if certain foods can be kept allergy free for you at your events, check out this blog, “Tips to Successfully Request Food-Allergy-Friendly Dishes at Gatherings & Events.”
2. Eat what makes your heart sing.
If you do not have a food you NEED to avoid, you are allowed to eat your holiday loves with ZERO guilt. Do not listen to terrible advice that tells you to eat low-sugar, cardboard-tasting equivalents to your favorite treats.
This is a recipe for disaster.
Your soul and mind know you did not want that crappy substitute for your favorite cookie. It wanted the real thing. So after you’ve ate everything BUT what you really wanted, you will than most likely succumb and eat way too many of what you really wanted and should have ate all along with a healthy mindset from the beginning.
So when you finally do eat “the forbidden favorite,” because it was without a healthy mindset, you overindulge and hate yourself and berate yourself tirelessly for that decision that was messed up & was doomed to fail due to terrible advice (that you are not alone in listening too).
These unhealthy beliefs are everywhere because it has become a cultural norm, not because it actually works to BE HEALTHY during the holidays.
So this year, ask yourself, “What are my favorites?”
How do you want to feel after eating it? What does that feeling look like on your plate? Ask yourself these questions and it will start bringing clarity and healthy freedom to your choices.
3. Think through how you will handle the scenarios that are stressing you out.
Are you stressed already thinking that certain scenarios that may or may not happen at your celebration? You’ll be set up for success if you think through how you can best handle them, that way if they do happen, the situation won’t be shutting you down or making you dread going.
I like to use IF/THEN Plans. Here are some examples:
IF: Your mom says “Just relax about your food, you should enjoy yourself” THEN: You say, “I totally will! Don’t you worry about me!”
IF: Your cousin says, “You may have food sensitivities, but we sure don’t!” Then: “You’re so blessed! And I don’t care what you eat today! Its not about the food, its about spending time with all of you.”
IF: Your grandmother says: “But you always love my rum pie” (when you politely decline because you honestly don’t want it at that time): THEN: And I still do, but I am stuffed right now. Can I bring on home so I can really enjoy it later?
IF: Your sister says: “But I don’t understand why you can’t just eat like everybody else”. THEN: I don’t want to eat like everyone else, I want to eat what works for my unique body and this making me have more energy, balanced hormones, and less acne. But please you enjoy what works for you today.”
IF: Someone at a party says, ”But why aren’t you drinking? You always drink?” THEN: I’m trying something new this year, and I’m feeling so much better without it right now. So I’m sticking to it. But please, you don’t have to worry about me, you enjoy yourself.”
4. Chew your food.
Yes really. It sounds “Totally lame,” as they say, but it is essential for you to actually enjoy your holidays. If you don’t chew your food, you do not absorb your food well. Absorption is essential for make proper communication happen with your brain, especially your fullness signal. So don’t rush, chew your food.
5. You have the right to savor.
You do not have to shove food down your throat. Sit down, chew, and savor the experience. Be present and tune out any negative body or food talk. Be present and enjoy the experience that will not happen again the same way ever again.
6. Do not save your calories.
Let me be blunt, this is the WORST DIET ADVICE OF ALL TIME. Yes, I think I am typing and yelling in all caps! : ) Nothing displays a poor relationship with food than this belief.
If you believe this is sound advice or are listing to someone consistently that thinks this is sounds advice, run for the hills, but more importantly, please work with someone who can help you break free from this destructive mindset.
This is not a healthy mindset. It’s a restriction mindset and nothing good or healthy comes from restriction.
Skipping does not “save room” for more later. It’s one thing to delay a meal because you’re legitimately not hungry, but it’s quite another to “save calories” so you can indulge later. Depriving and restricting throughout the day will only promote binge eating and overeating, leading you to feel bloated, guilty, and ashamed, but it also messes with your hormones, and it actually leads to weight gain, which is what most people using this bad plan think they are preventing.
7. You are not in control of anyone else’s plate but your own.
Your uncle who has diabetes is eating pie. It doesn’t matter. Your mom, who gets migraines, is eating all kinds of foods you’ve learned can be triggers. It doesn’t matter. Simply put, it’s their body, not yours and they ultimately get to decide. Focus on your plate, your health, and as they see you put into action what you learn and how you feel, they will be open to more and more conversations that allow for them to be open to be changing what goes on their plate (eventually), but this does not start by trying to nitpick their plate on a holiday. Let it go and love them instead, right where they are at.
8. Skip the healthy eating PSA.
What do I mean by this? Well, you may want your family, friends, and the meaningful people in your life to care about the quality of food they are eating, or that they read the labels of the products they buy, that they want to make some healthier upgrades to your staple holiday dishes, or that they would be in the mindset to learn where their food comes from. Simply put, the day of Christmas or your holiday gathering is NOT the day to be spouting all the health information you have learned and why what they are eating is not the best for them.
This is a conversation best started at other places and times.
Trust that. Change is a deep process and jumping someone on a holiday will only make them dig in deeper with NOT making changes because shaming or guilting someone does not lead to meaningful change; it just does not.
9. If you get sick, remember you did your best.
One of the most popular ways to talk about this is getting what’s called “glutened” - but it applies to all allergies. You thought you avoided all the things, but somehow something you ate had some of the sneaky stuff in there and now you are paying for it and are miserable. I know this all too well. Whether gluten, dairy, soy, corn, fish, nuts, seeds is not your friend right now and somehow, your unfriendly pal got snuck into something you ate, do not go into the headspace of now I’m wrecked…my progress, health, recovery, etc. YOU HAVE NOT WRECKED YOUR PROGESS!
What I have discovered about this unhealthy mindset, which can be fed by perfectionistic practitioners asking for perfect adherence to food rules, is that the STRESS of this belief is what causing the downward spiral and not actually the “exposure.”
Just think about it this way…you get “exposed” and you have your typical reaction (diarrhea, migraine, rash, racing heart, joint pain, etc.) and you take all the supportive supplements and food to help recover quickly, but along with that your mind says, “My body is designed to win and will recovery quickly. It’s all good. I’ve got this!” Versus thinking, “I am dying, I’ve lost everything. This is going to wreck me. I hate the person that made whatever it is that gave me this reaction. I even asked!” … You get the idea.
Which person do you think is going to feel better faster and actually most likely not have long-term affects?
I hope that answer is pretty obvious. Start seeing things that are out of your control as a gentle hiccup that your body is designed to be ok with, and not a long-term death sentence. When you do, your health will start to follow.
10. Walk away and take a deep breath.
Did someone bring up a destructive conversation, say something insulting, etc? Did they belittle your “progress” and tell you they “can’t tell” you’re eating healthy? You have the right to walk away. You simply, say “Excuse me” and walk away. Go to the bathroom, close the door and that a deep breath! (But make sure it’s an effective deep breath, as Heather describes in this blog).
It can make all the difference.
Each and every one of these tips can make all the difference. I want each and every one of you to enjoy the holidays!
I hope these healthy holiday tips help you smash some myths and have a healthier holiday season full of love, laughter….and when possible, gluten-free Christmas cookies ; )
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays,