redefining the holidays

Let’s face it. While the holiday season can be, like the song attests, the most wonderful time of the year, it can also be undeniably stressful — full of generational family drama, deep loneliness, and unreached expectations.  And all of that stress leads to one thing… making unhealthy choices.  For some of us, that means an extra couple glasses of eggnog at the holiday party or another… plateful… of Rudolph-shaped sugar cookies.  And, while the occasional treat can be a welcome and delicious addition to the holiday merriment, sometimes resisting that mountain of freshly baked Christmas cookies can seem like an impossible task.  

Here are four tips for overcoming those holiday obstacles.

Redefining the Holidays

My hope is that these tips not only help you to avoid the common health mistakes we make during the holiday season – but that they help you to redefine and add JOY to your holiday experience!

1.)  Redefine the Relationship:  For most of us, our relationship with food has taken two forms: reward and punishment, leading us to a confused adult relationship with nutrition, allowing shame and guilt to enter into the equation. Stop that negative self-talk now and start redefining your relationship with food. Eat real, whole foods — enough with that processed crap, and get back to the basics of your relationship with food. Just like reconnecting with a partner, take the time to transform this fundamental relationship. Eat slowly, always seated, always emotionally and mentally present, and chew. Not only will it slow down your cravings, but it will allow your mind and body to communicate when you’re full and satisfied, and, unlike when you scarf down that pie in the middle of the night, standing over the sink, you will remember what you’ve eaten.

2.) Track Those Cravings: Finding yourself with a gnawing craving for sweets this holiday season?! Or carbohydrate goodness, caffeine or alcohol? Our cravings are both physical and emotional. Track your cravings, what you’re craving and when, and your emotional state. Your body, inundated with nutrient-deficient processed foods, could be calling out for additional nutrients. Your spirit, overwhelmed with stressed or loneliness, could be crying out for fulfillment. Before you feed that craving, stop and take stock of where the craving might find its source. Think it’s physical? Fill your belly with a quick and easy salad, a glass of water or a plate of veggies. Feeling a little overwhelmed? Take a walk, call a friend, or bundle up for a night-time holiday-light tour.

3.) Soothe Your Spirit: If you’re anything like me, your expectations about the possibility of the season can get in the way of a stress-free and joy-filled holiday. I find myself disappointed and stressed-out over mis-managed expectations and holiday drama. This season, focus on the expectations you can fulfill. Treat your spirit with some self-care. Make time for daily movement. Take a bath with some delicious epsom salts. Journal your way through the season. Grab some tea with a good friend. Treat yourself well this season.

4.) Take the Focus off of Food: Most of our holiday traditions are centered on feasting. From company Christmas parties to family shindigs, the focus is on the food. This holiday season, let the food take a backseat and create holiday traditions that cultivate the other values we celebrate this season! Go for a walk with your family to tour the Christmas lights in the neighborhood. Plan a family game night instead of a big dinner in. Check out what your city has to offer in terms of free holiday events. Whatever your budget, find ways to take the focus off of food and put it back on what brings you JOY!

Wishing you a week of peace and merriment!

XO Kate.