Monday, December 16, 2013

Holiday Food 101

I keep hearing from folks who are already resenting the weight they're going to gain during the holidays.  I can tell by the way they talk that they are already resigned to it.  Which, in my mind, is the same as planning for it to happen.  No one is actually saying, "I'm putting into motion a well-laid-out plan to gain 5 pounds over the holidays," but by assuming that it's the inevitable outcome, they might as well be.

I don't ever assume that I'm going to gain, lose, or even maintain a specific weight over the holidays.   I do plan to eat the foods and participate in the activities that make me feel strong, nourished,  and healthy.

I also plan to enjoy myself (hello, Williams-Sonoma Peppermint Bark).  For me, moderation, persnickety-ness, and awareness are key.

Moderation:  Tasty food is ever abundant in our society, and on any given day, I don't like eating so much of it that my tummy has to push uncomfortably against its neighboring organs.  Why would that change because of a calendar date/month?

Persnickety-ness:  Being a picky eater (within reason) can be a good thing!  Offer me a chocolate chip cookie from a brand-name bag off the grocer's shelf, and I'll typically say no; offer me a fresh, homemade cookie from Zoe's Kitchen and I'll love you forever.  Just because the mass-produced cookies are easily snatched from the potluck table doesn't mean the enjoyment factor will outweigh the calories.

What if it's an array of homemade treats ranging from red velvet cake to melt-in-your-mouth brownies?  Step one:  I select the one I think I would most enjoy.  Step two:  I take a bite and pay attention to it!  Does it taste as scrumptious as I thought it would?  Step three:  If yes, I enjoy and skip ahead to the third key, below.  If no, I'd be foolish to cram the rest of it in my mouth anyway.  I get rid of it and try something else if I'm still wanting a sweet, making sure to repeat steps one and two!

Awareness:  Your body will tell you when you're craving something, including treats and sweets.  Most of us listen real well to that sweet impulse, but aren't always super aware of the other signals.  Once I finish that scrumptious brownie (or whatever it was), I owe it to myself to let it "sit" a few moments before diving into the next anything.  Your body will tell you what it wants:  dang, that's a lot of sugar, I feel loopy; boy, sure could use some protein now; wow, I feel so dehydrated; etc.  I stop and listen for those messages.

And I try to remember, listening to our bodies is NOT the same thing as listening to our emotions.   Food is primarily fuel, and often pleasure, but is never love, security, or popularity.  Indulge accordingly and love yourself today, tomorrow, and on January 2nd!