After spending over a decade in practice you start to see patterns in human behaviours. Depending on the time of year, you can anticipate some of the conversations you are going to have with patients when coaching them on lifestyle medicine. As soon as mid November comes, you can start to feel the shift in focus from people following and enjoying their lifestyle plan to gearing themselves up for the holiday season. For many you can hear it in their voice they are already defeated before the season starts.
“there are a lot of parties coming up, so I am finding it hard to stick to my plan”
“there doesn’t seem like a huge point to starting anything with it being so close to Christmas”
“I am already starting to worry about all of the temptations”
“I always overeat at Christmas”
“I can’t do it now, but I will start this Jan 1”
I totally get it. At times I feel like I would sell the shirt off my back for a homemade shortbread cookie!! The holiday season is notorious for its share of abundant goodies. We went to the Santa Claus parade the other weekend, and the twins collected 10 candy canes EACH. Not to mention the goodies around the office, peoples homes, the parties, the grocery store and every appointment you seem to go to. It seems that everyone wants to be generous with treats at this time of year.
Don’t get me wrong, I love this holiday season. I love that we tend to look each other in the eye and genuinely wish each other a happy holiday. I love that people feel the desire to give and be generous. On the other hand…what I wish for all of you is that you make conscious eating choices this holiday season and practice mindful eating…instead of mindless.
More than any other time year, Christmas tends to present more opportunities to make emotional or unconscious eating choices. The chocolates are on the office desk and you grab one…or three, not because you love and savour them but because they are there. Your babysitter just made homemade cookies and you really dont like jam filled cookies but you eat it to be polite. You go to that holiday party and overeat because well…its Christmas! You get my point. This season seems to spiral out of control for so many of us, with the looming thought that Jan 1 you will get back on track.
While indulging and “enjoying” the season we also guilt ourselves about our food choices and holiday weight gain. We hear from all of the weight loss gurus that the average weight gain is 5-10 pounds over the holiday season and wonder how much we will gain this year. So many people spend the season in the spiral of eating and feeling guilty but just hanging on and in some way looking forward to Jan 1 when they can get back “on track”
At this point in the article…I ask you this.
How Do You Want to Wake Up on New Year’s Day?
Okay – well maybe New Years Day is a little ambitious! But how would you like to wake up in January.
A) Feeling guilty, up in weight, bloated, tired, lethargic and loathing the next 3 weeks as you drag yourself back to your lifestyle plan
B) knowing that you did your best to mindfully eat over the holiday season, and knowing that you did your best to be true to yourself and health objectives
Well, when I present it like this…I know that all of your in your rational place will pick B. So lets see how we can help make that happen for all of you.
Most of the craze at Christmas comes from mindless eating and then getting into that mental place of “well I blown it now…I might as well keep going.”
In order to break this pattern, we need clear objectives and a plan.
There are some things that you just can’t live without…I get that. For me…shortbread cookies, chocolate and wine. There are also things that you can live without. For me….bread, candy, appetizers and dessert.
There are also certain dinners or situations that make it more challenging to stick to plan. A Christmas party with a set menu is much more challenging to negotiate than a buffet or an a la carte dinner.
Create Your Christmas Plan
- Sit down and plan your Christmas season. Figure out what is really important to you to indulge in, and determine what dinners or functions you have.
- Then come up with a plan of what you will have at those functions…and which ones you are going to have whatever you want. For example – Your Work Christmas party is a buffet so you will enjoy wine but not have the appetizers or the dessert. Your partners Christmas party is at a restaurant but is a set menu so you will not have the appetizers or bread but will eat the meal presented and have some wine and dessert. Your Aunt Kay makes a mean Cheesecake on on Christmas Eve…so you are having wine and cheesecake at that party. Christmas Day is your indulgent day!!
- Choose to Mindfully Eat. When you put something in your mouth, make sure that you are doing it for the right reasons. Not because it’s there, or because you feel guilty for saying no but because you really want to eat it. To get some tips on saying no, please read Amanda Weber’s people pleasing article below!!
You may not perfectly execute your plan every time, but you will come a lot closer than if you didn’t have a plan in the first place.
Have a wonderful holiday season…and practice mindful indulgence!