So often we go into the holiday season with dread because we are afraid of all the holiday parties with tempting food and drink. We are afraid that by the end of the season the weight gain will be huge. Fear no more . . . If you follow these three simple tips you can rest assured that you won’t have January Post-Traumatic Scale Shock.
Make sure that you are taking care of yourself and making time to relax and rest throughout the holiday season. As mothers, daughters, and wives, many women are overachievers when it comes to taking care of others but not particularly good at taking care of themselves. Let’s face it, this is how women have been socialized. We tend to carry a lot of the emotional labor of the household and the family. What I have found over the years is that when I am so busy taking care of everyone else and paying no attention to my needs, food becomes my only source of comfort and fuel. But if I take the time to think about my needs, prepare the food that truly nourishes my body, set appropriate limits on my time, schedule lunch breaks and limit my social engagements, then I eat better and am not relying on food to buck me up and get me through. When I am taking care of myself food doesn’t become my stress reliever, nor does it become a substitute for sleep. However, when I am running around like crazy, I have no time to think about food or to be in touch with my body’s needs. This leads me to wait until I am starving to eat and then grabbing whatever I can to stop the hunger. Or, to pushing myself to exhaustion and using food rather than sleep to stay energized. Food also becomes my solace rather than some downtime to visit with a friend or read a book.
Don’t eat “around” what you really want to eat. What this means is if you want some of Aunt Sally’s fabulous turkey stuffing, or a piece of Mom’s famous cheesecake, or those yummy au gratin potatoes that Emily makes each year (you can see what foods I am already looking forward to), then let yourself have them and enjoy them! Don’t deprive yourself or ‘eat around’ these foods. I mean, how many times have you tried to avoid that yummy chocolate cake your sister baked by having lots and lots of fruit? Does it take away the craving? If you really have a hankering for a specific food, chances are that the substitute food will not take away the craving. If you are like me, it is more likely that you will eat a big plate of fruit to stave off the chocolate cake, but then ‘break down’ and eat the chocolate cake anyway at the end of the night while you are helping to clean up. Instead, if it is your sister’s chocolate cake that you crave, give yourself permission to eat and enjoy rather than feeling disappointed in yourself for ‘breaking down’ and eating it later. Generally, eating what you are craving without judgement leads to less overeating and a lot more holiday cheer!
Let go of judging and comparing. Your cousin may be thinner. Your sister may be able to eat a lot more and never have to worry about her weight. Your husband may truly be able to stop when he is full. But that doesn’t make any of them better than you. Accept yourself and accept your relationship with food. Accept your body and remember you are more than your weight. You are more than your butt size, and you are more than your dress size. Healthy, happy, beautiful people come in all shapes and sizes. And, when we judge and compare ourselves to others our stress levels increase. This increases the stress hormones that pour into our bodies. And, guess what … food helps us calm the stress hormones. Comfort eating is really a thing that our bodies physiologically lean towards! So keep out that stress that is caused by overdoing it, judging, and comparing. In fact, why not give yourself the gift of a judgment-free month? Stop judging and comparing yourself to others. Step away from the scale and let yourself enjoy all of the holiday magic, including the foods you love. And, to quote Dr. Seuss remember, “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” Embrace all of you and happy holidays!
If you need a little help over the holidays (or any time) I am here to help. You can reach me at 818-309-7780.
I am a licensed marriage, family and child therapist in private practice in Porter Ranch, CA. I have been licensed for over 30 years and am passionate about working with women on improving their self-esteem, self-care, and relationship with food.