The holiday season is a time to spend with family and friends, gathering around food and enjoying each other’s company. Since the holiday is based around an abundance of food and thankfulness for it, there is every reason to be excited for a table full of decadent dishes and cocktails. On the other hand, this season can also bring up a lot of stress and emotion due to seeing people you have not seen in a while, pressure to entertain, and also…diet talk. Do you ever notice that the word diet or weight comes into play at least once in conversation during a holiday gathering? I urge you this season to set boundaries and goals so that you can go into the holiday with an open mind and open arms, rather than a closed off demeanor. Here are some tips to genuinely enjoy this holiday without the added guilt or fear of what is yet to come.
Assess the Situation
Think about who is going to be at this gathering. Are you on good terms? What kinds of conversations do you usually have with them? If hosting, what dietary restrictions do they have that you can help accommodate for? It is good to assess and anticipate the setting so that you can prepare yourself for how you will respond if it is anticipated to induce stress or uncomfortable feelings. At the end of the day, it is important to have an open mind around being welcoming and genuine, for yourself, and to maintain your own peace.
Think about the food that will be there. Do any of these foods cause you to be triggered with cravings or guilt? Think about bringing your own dish(es) to have for yourself, and also to share with others. You would be surprised how many people who don’t follow a gluten or dairy free diet, end up loving those dishes even better at holiday gatherings!
Take a look at your history
At holidays in the past, have you had a history of overeating and it turning into a slippery slope, or have you been able to recover quickly, and be at your optimal pace again within a few days? If you were able to get back on track and feel great shortly after the holidays, that is great! Do it again this year, and reach even higher. If you notice you have a tendency to spiral into some unhealthy habits after, proceed with caution, but still enjoy yourself, and leave plenty of room to celebrate the season of thankfulness!
Go into it with a solid goal
Once you assess the situation as we did above, create at least 1-2 solid goals you can focus on throughout the day. If you know you are going to struggle, maybe set a goal to enjoy 1 full and balanced plate of food, and 1 choice of dessert. If you want to focus more on the stress aspect, set a goal to have an open and peaceful mindset regardless of who you are talking to at the party. When someone says something, or something else happens to challenge your peace, have a goal to do something like 3 deep breaths, and re-enter a safe space. Since different techniques work for different people, leading up to the holidays, practice and explore techniques at work and at home to identify the ones most effective for you.
Practice speaking up in uncomfortable situations
To further protect your mentality and health-related progress, start building your confidence in speaking up on things that tend to bother you when they come up in conversation. If discussing weight or diet stresses you out, work on positive affirmations and challenging negative thinking. In addition, it is always recommended to speak with a professional in the field if problems like this arise and persist. Never be afraid to strengthen your mind to ultimately maintain your joy and happiness. Finally, do not be afraid to leave a conversation that you recognize is doing you more harm than good. You are the ultimate decider of what you let in and out of your heart and mind. That being said, try to be respectful, and practice using words that helps the person understand why you do not want to continue the conversation. If they are truly concerned with your well-being as a loved one, they will understand.
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