Man, it’s been one heck of a year, hasn’t it? And now, all of a sudden, we’re back in the holiday season again. I know that with all the joys and cheer that the holiday season brings, a great deal of stress, anxiety, and worry can come, especially when in recovery. My hope is in this blog to walk you through some tangible and helpful tips and tools, which will allow you to enjoy the holidays fully, food and all.
- Eat Breakfast. The worst thing that you can do on a day you anticipate a large quantity of food to be served is skipping breakfast in the morning. When you skip breakfast in the morning, this will most likely lead to overeating at the meal, due to energy deprivation. Think about it this way, your body has been running on minimal energy storage while sleeping (7-9 hrs), and then you skip or eat minimally for additional hours until having a late lunch or early dinner (2-3p). Most likely your body has then gone 15-hrs without food or energy to complete basic functioning in your body (think breathing, keeping your heart beating, sending signals to your brain/body to walk, talk, move, etc.)
- Set Boundaries. A lot of time, holidays can be ‘food-focused’ holidays, so family members may make comments around ‘food rules’ that they have set for themselves (including but not limited to: food hierarchy, good food vs bad foods, etc.) and/or comments around their body/your body. A good rule of thumb is to let family members know that comments around food/body are not helpful and can actually harm your recovery/mental state, and politely ask them to abstain from those conversations. You can also suggest additional topics of discussion for everyone to discuss.
Some suggestions can include:
- Favorite Holiday Tradition
- Favorite Holiday Memories
- College/Professional Sports
- Current Hobbies
- New Shows/Movies you’re watching
- Family Life, etc.
- Plate with Intention. Make sure to approach each option and ask yourself- Do I enjoy this food? How much sounds good? Would I like to try more than one type of component offered? Make sure to have components from all macronutrients (Carbohydrates, Proteins, and Fats), and know that it’s okay to have more than one type of food from a given category (ie: roll + potatoes + stuffing=carbohydrates; gravy + butter= fats). A good rule of thumb is to have approx. ⅓ of your plate be carbohydrates, ⅓ of your plate protein, and ⅓ of your plate a fruit/vegetable (as a general standard).
- Check-In with Yourself Throughout the Meal. Keep in mind the hunger fullness scale. At the start of your meal, you should feel relative hunger (approx. 3-4), and at the end of the meal you should feel satisfied (approx. 7-8). Now, this isn’t set in stone, but this is a good ballpark to stay intentional about.
- Enjoy Dessert. A wonderful part of enjoying food is to ask yourself, ‘What could enhance this food experience?’ On a day like the holidays, dessert is definitely something that adds to the overall experience. Remember, also, that dessert is not an ‘instead of’ or compensation for other foods chosen at the meal, but they have just as much nutritional value as any other food. Desserts are typically composed of carbohydrates that provide fuel for your brain and cells, and dietary fats help facilitate hormone balance, provide protection to your vital organs, help regulate your body temperature, amongst other things. Remember: once our bodies start the digestive process, they don’t know apples from oranges, or pie from potatoes.
- Meet Yourself with Compassion. Holidays can be hard, and give yourself grace, if thoughts, urges, or behaviors have emerged. Use it as a time to reflect on places you’re still growing. Compassion is needed most in times of healing.
While the holidays can be hard on anyone they don’t have to be, find love and compassion for yourself and others around you. It’s not easy but it is enjoyable. Taking everything we talked about today can immensely transform this holiday season. This year let’s bring the family together and forget about our troubles by making a plan; planning for the day, or event, can be a good way to stay present in festivities. I hope this holiday season will bring happiness to all!