I truly love this festive season. I love all the delicious foods that are brought onto beautifully decorated tables or pic-nick blankets. I love that everyone is happy. Is merry. I love spending time with my family and saying thanks to my friends and all the people that made this year so very special for me. But I dislike the fact that these days are all too often accompanied by crazy feasts of overeating. Those meals have an air of ‘we must stuff ourselves as much as we can because we won’t eat any yummy food ever again’ to them. And I hate the fact that those sumptuous banquets are often followed by guilt, feelings of dislike toward yourself and plans of restrictive eating or punishing exercise to make up for it.
So, here is the plan for this Xmas and all the New Year celebrations: how about this year you replace crazy overeating with mindful and joyful dining? Here are my 3 easy tips on how to make this happen and by doing so turning this wonderful time into an even happier one.
- Drop your diet mentality
I know this might sound a little controversial, but trust me it is not. When you sit down at your festive table with the idea in mind that this is one of the rare times where you can allow yourself to eat whatever your heart desires, you set yourself up for going overboard. You are telling yourself in a way that usually you can’t have these foods and today is different and you must eat as much of them as you possibly can. That you must try everything. Before all those foods go into the forbidden, naughty corner again. Can you feel how this way of thinking changes food into something different than simply very tasty eats. It becomes a special treat. Something super enticing. Something you now have to have by all means. However, if you change your self-talk around all those yummy-licious Xmas foods and allow yourself to have them whenever you truly desire, all those foods lose their most potent and intent grip on you. You will still love them. And hopefully truly enjoy them. But because you know you can have them whenever you want, you don’t need to eat extra large amount of them to make up for the rest of the year, where you forbid yourself to only as much as look at them.
‘What?’ you might be thinking right now! ‘This does not make any sense at all?’ ‘How I can l be the best, most healthy version of myself and eat foods with empty calories whenever I feel like it.’ The plain answer to this, as with everything else in life, is balance. Yes, you can fit 20 percent of those foods that you love but you know are void of health-boosting, beautifying nutrients into your Xmas life, if you nurture your body the other 80 percent with exactly such eats that will bring the best out in you.
- Practice mindful eating
Yes, with this I mean eating slowly instead of engaging into something that looks more like a food race. Who is the fastest at stuffing the most amount of all that Xmas yumminess down your throat is not the most sexy or healthful competitive game. With mindful I also mean to stay focused on the fact that you are eating. This can get sometimes tricky when we are seated around those festive tables and blankets for a very long time. When we chat and laugh with all those who dear to us. When we exchange presents in between. When we take a bite from this plate and then remember later, we still wanted to try from the other dish that looked so good. When we don’t really stop eating for hours. So, how about being more aware of how often you pick up your cutlery again to put another yummy-licious bite into your mouth. Not to make you feel bad. But to help you be more in tune with your body’s cues. To be able to more realise how much you are actually eating. To give yourself the chance to touch base with how full you are. Am I actually still hungry? Or am I simply acting out of appetite. Which again is fine but knowing this might change how much you decide to actually put on your pretty plate. Practicing mindful eating also implies that you stay conscious of what certain foods and drinks will trigger in you. Simple carbohydrates and all those various forms of sugars are likely to make you eat more than is good for you. Adding alcohol into the merry game will not only make you lose your inhibitions towards any foods faster but it will also stimulate your appetite while reducing your ability to rightfully judge your portion sizes. Knowing all of this might enable you to ask yourself before you chew on the next delightful morsel, whether your desire / hunger / appetite is still talking here or whether something else has now taken control. And as we all know being delegated by sugar or alcohol never ends well.
- Add plant foods onto your festive plate
And I am not saying here you cannot have your most loved special Xmas or New Year’s Eve dishes and treats. Not at all. But how about not only loading your plate with such foods. You already know that they will not make you feel so good eventually. Or sometimes also pretty soon. So, how about mixing it all up and adding those foods onto your plate that you know will load you with wholesome goodness. I am talking about fibre rich plant foods which will fill you gently in a good way. Which will soften your blood sugar high from all those empty carbs. Which will balance out the heaviness of all those artery clogging trans and saturated fats and leave your stomach feeling okay with it. Which will pack your stomach with goodness without taking away any of the deliciousness of all those other foods you want so badly. ‘But does this mean that you don’t have so much room for all those other eats?’ you might be wondering? EXACTLY!!! Wasn’t this what you wanted in the first place? Not to regret having gone totally overboard with silly food and drink? Not to fall into the self-loathing, restricting and punishing trap again? If your answer is yes to any of these questions then you have your action plan. Also, let me gently remind you that plant foods – just like all the other dishes that would be plain without their Xmas specialness – can be turned into the most delicious festive versions of themselves. I don’t know about you but in my world, there is nothing more delicious than a beautiful salad dressed up with the most crunchy-licious vegetables, lentils, chickpeas or any other beans, sprinkled with crunchy pomegranate seeds and walnuts or pistachios, drizzled with the most zesty, creamy avocado sauce… Right?
Are you ready to embrace this festive season in all its wonderful yummy-licious glory and keep nurturing your precious self at the same time? Are you ready to let go of your diet mindset which truly is good for nothing but self-shame and loathing? I don’t know about you, but in my world, these feelings could not be more out of place at a time that is all about love. This year you have invited another very kind guest to sit with you at that Xmas table. Oh, it is mindfulness…and she has just gently knocked on your door. Are you all set to blow the rest of your crew away with the most tasty, healthy-licious plant-based dish which will leave everyone feeling good about themselves including YOU? Well, gorgeous, what are you waiting for? It is your call. Let’s spread the love – that is – your self-love – much further this year by replacing crazy overeating with true self-nurturing holiday enjoyment! I am totally in and I hope so are YOU.