We love food…and it’s food season!
Food, in this country, is ever-present and the holidays amplify the quantity and quality of caloric possibilities. Between parties and presents, time-crunches and traditions, you’re bound to do some “dipping of the snout into the trough” as my brother so eloquently puts it.
Seasonal snout-dipping is a norm for most people, and not a bad thing in my opinion. Food is a wonderful, pleasurable connective device—a way to fire neurons that help us recall fond memories of holidays gone by or honor traditions of folks passed on. As a whole person, not just a series of digestive processes and muscular contractions, this is a good thing. Our society has become slightly, okay radically, paranoid about food, eating and impact of heat on molecular bonds. (Yes—there is way too much thought investment going into high temperature modification of food molecules. Have a French fry and sit down!) Typical holiday indulgences are delicious and a treat, and valuable part of a full human life.
The problem for most of us is not these few occasions of indulgence, but the ongoing—every season—behavior of eating for pleasure or comfort. Let’s face it, if you slightly overeat 3 times a year you’re not gonna’ have a weight or health issue!
So let’s talk about eating for pleasure. In my book, Love Yourself Fit, I refer to it as “food horny”. (An appropriate term, coming from a woman that spent a lot of her life dealing with food horny!) And I’m a coach not a therapist, so I’m not big on rehashing the past or talking about how we got lost and whose fault it is we’re stuck on the side of the road in a ditch behaviorally. It’s about moving into better feeling and functioning mindsets. In the case of comfort eating however, you need to understand where your behavior choices are coming from and how to reroute your thinking so that you can redirect yourself in those moments of palate pleasure seeking.
Think about when you’re wanting to eat, not from hunger but from an emotional or inner hunger—a wanting to feel better, pampered, or less- stressed, tired, pressured, etc. The experience you’re most likely craving is nurturing. You need your “you” battery recharged and your whole self—the receiving, feminine side—of your cup filled. You’ve likely been giving all day, using your energy to discipline yourself to do the things you have to do (kids, school, work, bills, groceries, etc.). By the time you come home, you need a refill and understandably want some nurturing. You may be turning to the easiest, most pleasurable, uncharged (a.k.a. no one else is needed/no nudity is involved) source of comfort: food.
The empty cup and crappy filling technique (pleasure eating) is magnified at this time of year. The holidays heighten a lack of self-nurturing for women because for us, this season is relationship-oriented. Sure there are turkeys and Jesus, and a fat white guy squeezing down chimneys, but the truth is we give ourselves to more people and at greater levels. We cook, gift, wrap, plan, dress, decorate, shop and show up for a ton of things, people and events. During the holidays we give more of our time, attention, energy or money to all of our relationships—even the less significant ones (mailman gets a Starbucks card or the 2nd grade teacher a little tea ‘n’ goodies set). Tack this extra giving onto our normal to-dos, add holiday goodies and we can add an extra 5-10 pounds of holiday body weight in 4-5 weeks. That’s 17,500 to 35,000 extra calories of nurturing you need and aren’t getting. Ouch sista’!
What you need is not a regimented eating plan or to lose those extra pounds after the holidays, but a better way of coping and self-nurturing throughout the entire year. Imagine if all seasons were self-care seasons and there was no struggle with food—winter, spring, summer or fall, turkeys or bunnies—you have a full cup. Ooohhhh, now that sounds truly pleasurable!
Here are some suggestions to begin the process of nurturing and contributing to your heart, mind and body instead of your scale:
1. Learn what your psycho-emotional needs are and begin addressing them. This is a simple to get and long-to-explain topic! But it’s summed up into one section of my book. Another option is to connect with a personal coach for one session on identifying and meeting your needs. (If the coach doesn’t know about needs, then find another for this exercise.)
2. Make a freezer tummy and use like mad from this week until January 2nd!
3. Check out my 4-Way Temptation Manager. This link is a downloadable explanation and a sample chart to use to help you identify your eating triggers and resolve by including all of you—mental, emotional, spiritual & physical—into the treatment.
4. If there is something you know—I mean know—nurtures your soul then allow for it in time, schedule and priorities. Be willing to give yourself a teeny, tiny amount of time (5 minutes) of whatever to be a loving custodian of the only body you’ve got.
A blissful, trough-visited, cup-full holidays to you & yours!