Gearing Up for Holiday Feasts
By Stacey Harrison, G.D. (Graduate Dietitian)
What do we think of when we think of Thanksgiving? Turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie! It’s no wonder we eat more over the holidays. Many of us are excited to get together with family and friends and gather around an endless spread of deliciousness… but not everyone shares this excitement.
For some, the holiday season is a test of will power; a constant battle to resist temptation. Are you a chronic dieter afraid of joyous gatherings centered around food? Are you more stressed or anxious around Halloween, Thanksgiving and even Christmas due to a fear of falling off the wagon?
The cues tempting us to eat around these famous holidays don’t necessarily cause us to abandon all attempts to maintain healthy eating habits. In fact, most dieters actually put their self-regulatory defenses into overdrive and resist indulging. So why is it then, that these holiday seasons seem so threatening?
Several studies have shown that individuals who consider themselves dieters tend to eat the same or even less during holidays than others who are not dieting. We must then ask; are the strong and abundant temptations and flavourful and odorous environments of these times of year the real threat? Perhaps it’s the smaller, everyday choices that make up the bigger piece of the pie.
Holiday treats do play their part and being aware and mindful of the foods we eat should not be forgotten in light of the season. One thing to remember, however, is that every day treats add up just the same; though they may be perceived as less threatening. For example, products such as the famous 100 calorie snack, most often purchased to control intake, are viewed as being healthy, allowed foods; foods that do not threaten healthy eating habits. Due to this image, these misleading small packaged items have been found to lead some dieters to over-eat them. Snacks such as these allow for guilt free eating, though perhaps not mindful eating.
Be mindful and understand what each food brings to the table in order to make wise decisions on which foods to include most often and which ones to include in moderation. Throw the diet books out the window, allow all foods and enjoy them for what they are. Key word: enjoy! Slow down and take the time to think about how it looks, how it tastes and even how it makes you feel; whether it be an apple or a cookie. Using all senses will allow you to satisfy your craving faster. Developing a healthy relationship with food as a part of an everyday healthy lifestyle is something to strive for.