Whether you’re rewriting your relationship with food or just focusing on creating more holistic healing around your nutritional intake, holidays often amplify the pressure of getting the balance just right. But can we tell you a secret? You don’t have to work so hard to give your body what it needs. There is space to nourish a more balanced relationship with food where punishment, reward, and denial are not the central pillars of your celebrations this year.
Feeling like you need to stay “on track” or dealing with stress that comes from counting calories and strict limits can burden you, minimizing the joy of time spent with those who make the season worth celebrating. We understand that difficulty. It’s easy to feel caught between what you feel you should be doing and what you’d like to do.
Relationships with food and holiday nutrition are just as complex (and important) as those we have with the people we love. The holidays bring on the opportunity to indulge in that love, and often food becomes a part of the experience. With so many delicious seasonal treats on the table, our Awakened Path nutrition specialist wants to help you get the snacky servings you’re looking forward to without the side of guilt you don’t deserve.
Join us for bite-sized tips to help you navigate nutrition with a festive flair!
- Budget your belly space for savoring the snacks you’re most excited about. While food is the fuel we require to run our whole selves optimally, part of that is eating for satisfaction. You don’t want to overstuff to the point of discomfort, so think about the foods that make you feel good and give them priority on your plate.
- Get in the holiday spirit by dancing to the festive tunes or going for a winter walk. Moving your body joyfully helps ensure you’re using the nutrients you consume so that the next time you’re ready to fuel up with festive food, you know just what you need for optimum energy.
- Banish those feelings of guilt if you find yourself indulging a little more than you expected in the unique treats of the season. We do not find joy when we spend every moment criticizing the decisions we’ve made.
- The notes of nostalgia from eating things you remember fondly are valuable but be sure not to use food as an emotional coping tool. A lot of what you eat is about giving your body what it needs, but there is value in giving your heart what it needs through foods that feel like comfort too.
- Prioritizing balance instead of self-denial can help to ensure your body and mind both get what they need without praise or punishment that revolves around what you eat. If you eat too much to feel good about it, try a nutrient-packed super snack to even out your intake.
- Avoid the temptation to skip meals on celebration days. Instead, arriving with a ravenous appetite may lead to a spiral of overeating that leaves you feeling physically uncomfortable and emotionally exhausted by your own efforts. Listen to your hunger cues, and follow them intuitively. When you are hungry, eat something. When you are full, stop. To ensure you don’t pass those, it may help to take a moment between bites to check in with what you’re feeling.
- Make color a central part of creating your plate when other methods of balance feel out of reach. Perhaps the hues of your foods can rival the multicolored lights twinkling all around you to bring an array of flavor to your holiday snacks. The vibrancy helps to ensure variation in the energy you’re offering your body.
- Are you drinking enough water? Holiday decadence often means higher sugar, salt and stress levels than your body is accustomed to. All of those things can increase your body’s demand for hydration so make sure you’re drinking enough water. An added bonus is that by keeping yourself well hydrated, you can increase instances of mistaking thirst for hunger.
- Get big on boundaries with yourself and others. Much like prioritizing the things you enjoy most along with meeting your goals and needs, set boundaries on how much is enough and stick to them. Go for gold with your boundaries by sticking to them even with persistent food pushers. “No” is a whole sentence, and you aren’t obligated to betray yourself to make someone else more comfortable, no matter what they have to say about it.
- The idea of holiday gatherings is that we are spending our time with those we love, to celebrate and enjoy festive traditions together. Create a hierarchy of fulfillment to help limit the time food has in the spotlight of your socializing. Make a list of the things you’re excited about and then rank them. If you find yourself hovering over the food table when that cousin you haven’t seen all year is by the mantle, reroute and enjoy the company before snacking.
It’s okay to snack, to indulge, and to never feel bad about doing so. Sometimes it just takes a little effort to unlearn the lessons that told you otherwise.
When it comes to the nutrition facts that underlie your holiday eating “rules,” remember to keep it simple. Above all else, stay true to yourself. You are not being bad or doing anything wrong when you enjoy food. Make a plan to respond to the emotions or threats you may level at yourself so that you can quell those responses and stay in the moment for these seasonal celebrations you’ve more than earned.
There is no need for “feast or famine”, and there is no room on your mental plate for guilt. Focus instead on experiencing your holidays in authentic ways that stay true to the values you hold year-round. With these holiday nutrition tips, you can prepare yourself to appreciate the holiday without punishing yourself.
Food, and the way we build our relationship with it, can be overwhelmingly pleasurable or punishing. If you are struggling to strike the balance between holiday nutrition, snacking and sustaining a balanced lifestyle with your diet this year, consider meeting with our nutrition specialist. She specializes in integrative nutrition therapy, helping you get on the right path with nutrition facts and holiday snack tips tailored to your needs.
Awakened Path Counseling proudly provides quality transpersonal and traditional psychotherapy, at their offices in Middlesex County, New Jersey, and online. Their experienced therapists specialize in serving children, teens and adults. The experienced clinicians at Awakened Path Counseling are passionate about their holistic approach to mental health, addressing your emotional, cognitive, physical, and spiritual needs.