Let's take the holiday food-guilt down a notch.

Let's take the food guilt down a notch, shall we?

Years ago at Christmas time I would eat until I felt like I was going to puke. I would eat sooooo much of all the delicious food, treats, candies, cookies and so on, that we get to have at this time of the year. Why? I'm not 100% sure, but I have some ideas...

I think part of it was a scarcity mindset, 'If I don't eat all of these cookies now, I won't get to have them again for a whole year'. Part of it was a 'I'll start a new diet in the new year so I better enjoy these treats while I can' approach. Sometimes it was 'If I go for a run tomorrow, I can burn these off'.

None of these are healthy mindsets about food and I always felt pretty guilty about my eating after the fact. The guilt wasn't necessary, but neither was my binging. 

Eating to excess does not mean you need to feel guilty. It does not mean you need to starve yourself the next day. It DOES mean you can wake up, move on and eat to nourish your body if you've overdone it.

Here's an example of how I eat during the holidays now:

Yesterday I was at my In-laws house for a gift exchange and dessert. My Mother-in-Law had made gluten-free mini butter tarts, gluten free chocolate squares, mini gluten free pumpkin tarts... the list goes on. She made the treats gluten free because she knows that I am celiac. Such a sweet gesture! Now, as she filled a plate with these treats, part of me said, "Well, she baked these just for you, so you better have at least one of each of them!" but I had already eaten supper, I wasn't feeling hungry and I just wasn't craving a treat! What did I do? 

I tried one mini butter tart. It was delicious! The pastry was flaky (so hard to do without gluten!), the filling was perfect, such a treat. I finished it up, had a sip of my tea and sat back and relaxed. No stress. No sweat. I thought about the pumpkin tarts. I LOVE pumpkin flavoured anything. I waited about 5 minutes, then decided I would have a pumpkin tart too. Popped one in my mouth, again, flaky, melt-in-your-mouth pastry. Delicious. Sat back, relaxed, no stress, no sweat. Looked at the chocolate squares, the mince-meat tarts, thought to myself, "Naw, those aren't my favourites, and I'm already full". The end. I could've had more if I really wanted, but I felt good, and I'd enjoyed some sweets. 

When we got up to leave my Mother-in-Law asked if I'd like to take the rest of my gluten free treats home. "Sure!" I said, "That'd be great!". They're in a ziploc bag on the counter in my kitchen now. I haven't had any since. I might have one tonight, I might not. 

What's the lesson here? Why am I telling you this? Because you CAN enjoy treats at Christmas. If you eat mindfully, without necessarily restricting yourself, you WILL be fine. Everything will be fine. The world will not end, you do not need to feel guilty. You also likely don't NEED to eat the entire plate of treats, or finish the bowl of mashed potatoes. If someone brings sweets to the office, you are not morally obligated to eat them. You're a grown up, you can have treats WHENEVER YOU WANT. If you want gingerbread in July, I'm sure you can get your hands on some. 

I also want you to take a moment and think about the impact of your food mindset on your children and loved ones. If you're lamenting about eating a tray of sweets, your child is learning that guilt should follow a treat. If you're eating until you're complaining that you're stuffed all the way full, your child is learning that they should eat as much as possible during the holidays. Remember that you're not the only person impacted by your choices and your reaction to your choices. 

If you think you're going to tell yourself you're not going to eat ANY TREATS this holiday season and you make it through 2-3 gatherings without having anything, you'll cave at some point. You'll eat the whole tray (or half of it) simply because you've been restricting yourself so severely. Better to enjoy a treat here or there and keep yourself satisfied than to binge once or twice on allllll the treats. 

Try to stay relaxed and mindful about your nutrition this holiday season. Continue to focus on vegetables, fruits, proteins and healthy fats and satisfy your sweet tooth gently and mindfully when you need to. If you go a little crazy, don't stress, just breathe, know that you're human, and that your food choices don't make you a bad person or make it a bad day. Yesterday ended last night, lunch ended at 1pm, you can always move forward with a positive choice and love for yourself.