By Candice Chaloupka, Mental Health Therapist, Master Certified Health Coach
Dread going into the holiday season because you believe weight gain is inevitable? The following will discuss strategies for managing the delightful temptations that come along with holiday celebrations.
1. What kind of hunger is it?
This season, when faced with a confectionary treat take a moment to check in with yourself. Are you reaching for it because you are actually hungry? If the answer is yes, then ask yourself, is it head hunger (emotional or situational) or physical hunger? Head hunger is all the reasons you eat that have nothing to do with the physical need for food. It’s eating because you are stressed, sad, lonely, bored or happy. It’s eating to celebrate or driven by what you tell yourself: “everyone else is”, “I deserve it/earned it,.” etc.
If you determine it is head hunger then first try to satisfy the real need with a healthy non-food strategy like going for a walk, journaling or breathing exercises. If this is an ongoing issue for you, consider seeing a counselor who can help you establish a healthy relationship with food.
2. Give yourself permission to eat what you want.
Yes, you read that correctly. If you decide you really want to have the treat, then I want you to give yourself permission to eat it. Why? Because when you tell yourself “you can’t have it” that is when you will want it the most. Once you give permission though, you need to ask if it’s what you really want. When you pause to ask that question, you may realize you don’t really want it after all. This tends to happen the most with foods you habitually tell yourself you can’t have.
2. Don’t eat around your craving.
This is an extension of giving yourself permission. If you are hungry, then eat the food you are craving even if it’s not on your plan and don’t try to substitute the craving. When you try to appease the craving with something “healthier” you will probably still end up eating the food you were trying to avoid. This only leads to more calories (and guilt).
If you give in to a craving then the next guideline will be helpful to avoid over-indulging.
3. Only take three-bites.
Three bites is a mindful eating activity that ensures you enjoy and savor what you are eating and decreases overeating. The following is a mindful eating exercise that engages all the senses and increases satisfaction.
First, pick the food up and smell it. Smelling the food also enhances the flavor.
Notice the texture (if it’s finger food). Is it soft or hard?
Take one bite. Let it sit on your tongue, roll it around in your mouth. Notice the different flavors. Is it hot, cold, sweet, bitter, salty? Is it crunchy or creamy?
Take another bite, repeat the process.
After the third bite, pause and decide if you’ve had enough.
Three bites is usually enough to satisfy a craving. When food loses its taste it means your body has had enough. Notice when this happens and then put it down and walk away. If you are a member of the “clean your plate club” you will probably struggle with not finishing. Remind yourself that what you are afraid of letting to waste will only end up around your waist!
4. No guilt allowed! Enjoy what you are eating!
Guilt only leads to more of the same behavior you feel guilty about. You shame, blame, guilt, make deals and promises, then give in and start the cycle again. Guilt does not work - so stop
When you mindlessly give in to cravings it may lead to overeating and weight gain. This season try something different. Make a conscious decision. Eat mindfully; engage all the senses. Stop eating when it no longer tastes good. Enjoy!
Go ahead, give these guidelines a try. After all, what do you have to lose?