Holiday foods take us back to childhood when life was much easier and more fun. For me it was Russian teacakes. I would pop those delicious balls of powdered sugar into my mouth one after the other with joyful abandon, savoring the flavor as they melted in my mouth with each chew.
When you are confronted with these treats, your brain triggers the memories that go along with them, and those memories create mental and physical cravings for the happiness you felt when you were finally able to eat all that deliciousness.
There are other reasons we crave these foods. The stress of the holidays makes us seek out fat & carbs which we use as stress reducers. They help keep cortisol and adrenaline at bay so we feel relaxed and satisfied. This is why they are called “comfort foods.” Too many times we justify why we are eating the foods. It’s only once a year, and I want to celebrate. I deserve this (always a dangerous one). Grandma baked them for me so I need to eat them. I’m sure you’ve heard someone very close to you use these once or twice. I know I have
But why do we need to justify a small (hopefully) indulgence? This usually leads to feelings of guilt, and guilt doesn’t make us feel very good emotionally, plus that guilt is bad for your health. Feelings of guilt or shame can cause physical symptoms ranging from a simple knot in your stomach to fatigue and depression. It can also significantly stress your immune system, which can produce various inflammatory responses in the body,
When you are offered these treats, look them over and decide what looks WTC (worth the calories) and then eat it joyfully. Then slowly and mindfully savor each bite, feeling the warmth of enjoyment spread through you. By giving yourself permission to enjoy the goodies you’ll find yourself much happier and less stressed, you’ll enjoy the holidays more, and in the end, you’ll probably find that you won’t overeat as much as you feared in the first place. You are content and satiated.
You want to be sure to remember the law of diminishing returns. Nothing will taste as good as those first three bites. Have you ever found yourself eating more trying to get that same flavor back? It won’t happen. Enjoy those 2-3 bites then stop. By doing so you realize that food doesn’t hold control over you and you can look forward to enjoying the spirit of the holidays instead of focusing on the food.
And if you do overdue the junk? No one is perfect AND THAT’S OKAY. Understand what you did, why you did it, and make a CHOICE to get back on track the next day.
Written by Pamela Bundy of Reset Fitness, www.reset-fitness.com