Thanksgiving arrived early this year, and with it began the season of gift-giving and of holiday celebrations. It is a time of joy, a time to gather together with loved ones, a time to share the warmth of love and laughter.
Yet for many, this is a time of excess: too much food, too much wine, too many parties, too many obligations, too much money spent. And so I wonder, is there some way that we can bring more peace and balance into what should be a time of light and love?
Let’s begin with those holiday parties. Wonderful food, holiday cocktails, a time to celebrate… yet many of us either fret away the evening trying not to ruin our diets, or, instead, indulge and indulge and indulge… and regret it the next day.
Instead of this all-or-nothing approach, try to find a place of balance between enjoying the moment, and feeling good the next day. According to Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think by Brian Wansink (one of my all-time favorite books about how and why we eat), we eat what we do because of hidden influencers: the size of our plates, the atmosphere, the music playing, the company. We cannot control (or completely ignore) all of these things, so the best thing to do is to fight fire with fire: use your own tricks and tips to enjoy the holidays while protecting yourself from over-indulging. Here are a few ideas:
1. Make it a game. Ask yourself–what can I do to slow down how fast I eat? Perhaps serve yourself less than normal, and leave the leftovers in the other room so they aren’t as tempting. Can I delay that snack I want? Perhaps have a glass of water and see if you still feel hungry in 15 minutes. Do I need the hamburger with cheese, bacon and avocado, or would I be just as happy with only the avocado? Find clever ways to cut out a few calories here and there, without ever depriving yourself completely.
2. Be patient. Losing (or gaining) weight takes much less drastic measures than most of us believe. The difference of a few bites can make a big difference when done daily. Read Mindless Eating or The Four-Day Win: End Your Diet War and Achieve Thinner Peace by Martha Beck to learn more.
3. Increase your joy. Not only from food, but from everywhere. That holiday party shouldn’t be about only the crab cakes and wine; it should be about the company. Enjoy your friends, enjoy the music and the conversation, and don’t become too fixed on what you are or aren’t eating.
4. Stay balanced. When you get too hungry or too tired, of course your choices won’t be as good. So take care of yourself. Get enough rest, drink plenty of water and eat well.
5. Create your own tricks. Find what works and pass on what doesn’t. I like to share meals or order appetizers; I use small plates, bowls and glasses (another Mindless Eating trick). I try to eat slowly and take breaks so that I know when I’m full. Doing these things allows me to enjoy everything I want, and still feel good later (and fit into my favorite jeans).
Wishing you joy, balance and all the pleasures of the season,