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What Your #1 Strategy Should Be This Holiday Season

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Christmas gift box and gingerbread cookies on wooden background

With the holiday season in full effect it can become easy to wish yourself into the New Year.  The stress of buying gifts, preparing holiday meals and being in constant contact with endless arrays of cookies can leave some us feeling uneasy.  We often feel guilty and unable to enjoy the pleasures the holiday season brings.  This season arm yourself with a better strategy and give yourself the gift of being present! (Pun intended :) )

The Situation: The Cocktail Party

You know how this goes.  You walk into the room and see a beautiful spread of appetizers and delicious desserts.  Your heart begins to flutter and anxiety begins to creep in.  How are you going to refuse all this yummy food?  You start with the veggies and dip, then dabble in some shrimp cocktail, and then grab a handful of nuts.  You are being good, right?  Then as you mingle with the guests you keep thinking about the cookie dough cheesecake.  In fact, you are not even paying attention to the conversation because you are thinking about the cheesecake.  Later in the evening you become tired of refusing and you decide to have  just a bite of cheesecake.  Then a bite turns into the whole thing, and now what?  That’s right! You figure you might as well eat more because you have already fallen of your diet. At the end of the night you feel stuffed and regretful.  Who wants that?  I have another method for you.

Be Present

Before you arrive to the party check in with yourself.  Ask yourself, “Am I hungry?”

How hungry are you?

What do you feel like eating?

Sweet? Salty?  Savory?

What do you want feel like when the party is over?

As you begin to scout the spread of food, pick out your favorite food items and place them on your plate.  It might be tempting to try everything at once but focus on your favorite ones.  Remember the rest will still be there later.

As you begin to eat your food, begin to savor the flavors.  What do the textures feel like?  Being presentallows you to appreciate those salted caramel shortbread cookies.  Often times we rush through eating these “sinful” foods and don’t enjoy the experience.   What’s the fun in that?

Allowing yourself to enjoy the pleasure of the food will leave you feeling more satisfied and less likely to over indulge.  Check in with your hunger scale as you are eating.  Do you still feel hungry?  If you are beginning to feel your stomach, then you have likely filled your biological hunger cues.   If you are continuing to feel hungry then honor your hunger and if you feel satisfied then respect your fullness.   By you using this approach you will not feel deprived or sick from over eating.

I know this method may be much easier said than done, but as with everything it becomes easier with practice.  I encourage you to try being more present at your next party and see what happens.

The Situation: All the Extra Sweets in the House

Cookies.  Brownies. Cupcakes. Oh my!  It seems like everyone is giving you gifts of food during the holidays.  You know they are well-intentioned, but it makes you uncomfortable having so many “decadent” foods around the house.  You end up eating the cookies on the counter as you pass through the kitchen without even noticing, or grab the bag of caramel popcorn as you watch your favorite Christmas movie (Home Alone anyone? :) ).  Sound familiar? You don’t even like sugar cookies but some how they disappear…. So what is the solution?

You guessed it!  Be Present!

Okay, so you have all this extra food in your house.  Once again pick out your favorite items.  You love the chocolate peanut butter balls, but those chocolate chip cookies are little on the too crunchy and flat side for your taste.   Keep what you love and get rid of what you don’t.  Maybe you could bring the cookies to work (Of course if a co-worker gave them to you it could be a little awkward :) ) or place them on the dessert table during a holiday party.  The point is you are not obligated to eat the food you do not love.

Next place all the food you love into a designated area.  It might help to put it out of view because we all know how the See Food Diet works.  This helps to prevent you from mindlessly eating, because you want to enjoy the food you love, right?  Then when the moment is right and you desire to have that homemade toffee you will be present to enjoy it.

It helps to turn off distractions while you enjoy the foods you love.  When the TV is on or you are playing on the computer it becomes much easier to not be present to the food you enjoy.   Once you become present you will begin to notice you may not eat as much as you usually do.  And of course periodically check in with your hunger scale to help be your guide.

Being present not only allows you eat the foods you love, but it also provides you with the opportunity to savor and remember this holiday season.  Really listen to the conversations you have, feel the music you hear, and embrace the ones you love.  Happy Holidays everyone!

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