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Holiday Eating Survival Guide

Posted by Deborah Brooks, MS, RD, LDN on December 7, 2016

Oh no! Here they come! Are you bracing yourself for cookie trays, gratuitous boxes of chocolates and endless office parties? I just saw my first Whitman’s Sampler yesterday. And that’s just the beginning! But if you think I’m about to advise you to drink a gallon of water before every party, head for the raw vegetable tray at the buffet table, or virtuously decline every delicious morsel that enters your personal space, you obviously don’t know me!

Food is more than a collection of nutrients and calories. It’s soulful, it’s emotional. What we eat ties us to memories, to family and friends, and to the rich traditions that make up our lives. I am a firm believer that we should make room for the joys of good food in our lives. Does that mean we should try every flavor in the Whitman’s Sampler? No, it’s not about unbridled indulgence. It’s about enjoying life’s pleasures in a way that doesn’t leave us feeling gross or guilty.

We are all different of course. For some people, total abstinence from sweets and treats is the best solution. But my favorite way of getting through the holiday eating period is to bring sanity, moderation and – you guessed it – mindfulness to the whole thing. Faced with a buffet of food, think about what you most want to try or think you would enjoy the most, take a small portion of it, and enjoy the heck out of it! You don’t need to sample everything. I hesitated by the chocolate box last week, then rehearsed in my mind what it would taste like, and realized that I don’t find those chocolates all that yummy. That little moment of hesitation and thoughtfulness allowed me to stop a chocolate sampling binge in its tracks. Because the truth is, if it doesn’t taste as good as you want it to, you might eat MORE –  looking for just that perfect chocolate.

Better to eat food that makes me feel good, like a healthy snack, but allow myself some other seasonal treat when it appears;  say no to endless chocolates, and yes to a cup of eggnog once a year. And please don’t starve yourself before a party! It makes it harder to eat with moderation later. If you try to keep eating  enough delicious healthy food every day to keep yourself feeling satisfied, you really will be less inclined to go wild when the treats show up. And if you pay attention to how you feel and remember what it feels like to overeat or have 3 different kinds of cake, you’ll find it easier to slow down. It’s not about deprivation – it’s about being kind to yourself.

So please, enjoy parties, friends, family and, yes, food through the holiday season. Take a deep breath and bring a little mindfulness to your eating, and you’ll do just fine. And if you DO overindulge, do yourself a favor and take a peek at Brittany’s excellent post about moving on and starting anew!

Do you have questions or comments? Fill out the form below and we’ll get back to you very soon.

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