Eating During The Holiday Period

I don’t know how it has happened but another year has rolled by. The days are getting shorter, with a crispness in the air and wetness under foot. We are heading into the festive season at lightning speed and before you know it you’ll be surrounded wall to wall with mince pies, cheese, roasted meat and copious amounts of wine (or maybe that’s just me).

So as we head into the silly season, I wanted to say a few words about food, health and nutrition. It seems that more people these days are trying to be ‘healthy’ with their diet. They do this by splitting foods into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ categories and attempting to eat more from column a then column b. They will often use negative emotions like guilt and shame in an attempt to be good and when they are good they use positive emotions to try and reinforce this habit. While this may seem like a good tactic, there are problems with this approach that I have talked about here.

This holiday season I implore you to be relaxed around food, eat what you want and don’t let your emotions get involved. If you read the previous sentence and said to yourself ‘but that will mean I will just eat chocolate and biscuits and ice cream and turkey until I am going to burst’ then you need to take a look at your relationship with food. It says a lot about your interpretation as it’s not what the sentence means.

No food should be off limits and you should be allowed to eat anything you want. With this in mind, then you can then ask yourself what do you really want to eat. Your choices aren’t governed by intellect or good and bad categories or emotions that tell you to reward yourself. They are driven by genuine cravings for foods that your body needs and keen eye to learn what serves it best. Some meals this will be having some fish and steamed vegetables, for others it will be having ice cream and pop corn.

I think this is important to remember at this time of year because food can become such a focal point. And for a lot of people this can lead to negativity and strong emotions.

The festive season should really be about family, friends, catching up with people and having some well earned time off. It is hard to be totally in the moment when catching up with people if your internal dialogue won’t shut up about you ‘being such a pig for eating so much food’ or your continuous wrestling with the decision whether or not to have another chocolate or piece of cake.

How enjoyable the holiday season is can be largely decided by what is going on in your head. Making peace with food can be a big part of this. Ironically it actually leads to a healthier diet due to less emotionally charged eating and knowing when to stop. But if over the holiday period there are times you do eat too much (and we’ve all been there), please don’t worry about it and just chalk it up being a human being. Chastising yourself is not going to change anything except putting you in a foul mood and increasing the chance that you’ll do it all again.

Enjoy the festive season and be kind to yourself. It could be the best gift you receive all year.

p.s. One final important point. If you know that stepping on a set of scales is likely to spiral you into food issues then don’t do it; it can easily ruin your holidays. You can see more about this here.

This post originally appeared on the Not Got Much In blog here



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Chris Sandel is the founder of www.seven-health.com. He is a nutritionist, working with clients on a one-on-one basis, as well as creating online trainings and products about health and nutrition. He is the author of The Health Trap: Why "Healthy" Eating Isn't Always Healthy which is available on Amazon UK and Amazon USA.

Chris has three free emails series. One is on how to quit dieting. One is on simple tests you can do at home. And the other is his take on the world's healthiest foods.

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