Sticking to Your Goals This Holiday Season

With the holiday season just around the corner, many people find themselves in a time of mixed emotion. While the holidays typically elicit feelings of excitement, nostalgia and joy for some, they may also represent a time where feelings of stress, guilt and anxiety can creep in, particularly when talking about food.

I have had countless clients express these feelings and associate the holiday season with an automatic “I am bound to fail” mentality. Whether this is due to previous experiences over the holidays or simply a mind-set that has been fostered over time, this type of thought pattern can truly take away from the things many people wish the holidays could represent for them.

However, entering this time year doesn’t mean that you need to throw your health and goals out the window. I would suggest that you try something different this year. If you tend to air on the side of restricting food or feeling guilt around eating certain foods, ask yourself what is causing these emotions. No food in and of itself is inherently “bad” or “good.” This mentality comes from the way our society talks about food— placing labels or judgement on what is perceived as “healthy.” When we restrict having certain foods (especially things that we truly enjoy but perceive as “bad”), our brains tend to go into the opposite direction of obsessively thinking about these foods and craving them even more, often resulting in over indulgence and followed by feelings of guilt and shame.

Rather, giving yourself permission to mindfully indulge and enjoy a treat will often result in a better ability to consume what you feel is a satisfying amount and avoid negative feelings towards yourself or your actions. If you have a large turkey dinner, this does not mean that you must skip breakfast and lunch the next day to compensate. Restriction often leads to cravings, obsessing over food, over indulgence, guilt and once again – restriction. Listen to what your body is telling you: try to stick with eating when you feel hunger and stopping when you feel satisfied. This will allow you to make decisions around food choices in an intentional and mindful manner, rather than being controlled by food.

If you find this is a struggle that seems to find you each December, consider booking an appointment with one of our registered nutritionists. Fun fact: most peoples health benefits cover registered nutritionists/dietitians and flip over in the New Year. Don’t wait to book!

 

By Barbara Inglis, Registered Dietitian (Nutritionist)