Creative Coping Skills for Staying True to Your Health Values
You’ve done the work; Whether you’ve hit the gym consistently, built good eating habits, or made adjustments to feel better
Along came the holidays. The season for carb-loaded deliciousness, sugary sweet treats, and consoling in food for holiday-stress is in full swing.
Mom’s pies are a family tradition, even if she’s made ten thousand too many again. And you know she’ll be offended if you don’t take some home. Grandpa Roger will guilt you into trying his Turducken (loaded with cheddar cheese). And there’s a small part of you that wants to give because you might be missing out on the joys of tasty seasonal favorites if you stick to your good eating habits.
Practice what to say and do before going on holiday food-fests. Your body, mind, and spirit will thank you later.
Author of The Psychology of Eating, Jane Ogden, Ph.D., says by combining flexibility and preparation, a healthy person can cope. Be willing to invest time into planning what to say and do beforehand to stay true to your food values and health goals.
- Food. It’s everywhere you look! From the office breakroom to sweet Sunday snacks at the in-laws, goodies are around, multiplying temptations like rabbits.
- Eager Emotional Unpacking. Holidays seem to give emotional baggage the green light to unpack past trauma, wrong-doing, and disappointments. Old memories may surface – some stressful or sad. Ogden says many people respond to these triggers with emotional eating.
- Treat Yourself. You may have a particular dish you love that only comes around during the holiday season. Missing out on it may feel criminal!
- Righting with Rituals. Dr. Ogden says, “Food is often an important part of both family and religious holiday rituals,” she continues, “and opting out of those rituals may be seen as disrespectful of those sacred traditions.”
- Food May Build Strong Bonds. Relationships with loved ones and food are deeply connected, says Dr. Ogden. She states, “at the holidays, you’re often with people who mean a lot to you, whom you don’t see all the time.” She continues, “As a result, you may be inclined to use food as a connecting point,” even if you’re hungry or not.
First and foremost, take time to honor yourself with self-reflection before heading into the holiday season.
Think about what you’ll eat in a way that better serves you. It’s “not in a way that meets the social or family expectations of others,” advises Dr. Ogden. Make sure that you are eating for yourself and nobody else. And make sure to have your explanation at the ready.
You know a simple no-thank-you isn’t going to work on the chef of the house. After all, if (s) he’s anything like my mother, they “didn’t spend all day slaving away for a home-cooked meal for nothing.” Prepare for resistance by practicing an explanation that invites as little pushback as possible. Say things like, “I’m gluten-intolerant” or “I’m avoiding sweets” can be more effective than “I’m watching my weight.” Sticking with the truth may set you free.
Speaking of the truth!
You might want to relax your rigid rules a bit. Dr. Ogden suggests, “You might simply accept the fact that this is a special time of year with respect to food and relax your rules a little.” Trust yourself enough to plan. There might be a few meals that you want to experience without restrictions, but give yourself a few extra workouts in between.
It’s up to you to set personal boundaries and limitations just as much as it’s your choice to choose when you’d like to savor a seasonally available dish. Being mindful of your wishes before your holiday-food-fests can help you stay on track and less likely to overindulge. When you do choose to lax your rules, enjoy the meal by slowing down and appreciating the gift at hand. There is something special about eating food prepared by a loved one – mindfully.
Where to get the book? https://www.amazon.com/Psychology-Eating-Healthy-Disordered-Behavior/dp/1405191201
Author info: https://www.surrey.ac.uk/people/jane-ogden