• Hannah Stewart, Undergraduate Dietetic Intern

Three Tips For Navigating Holiday Parties


To be honest, we're sick of all the blog posts circulating this time of year that promote "saving calories" for holiday parties or skipping the ranch with your veggies to "lighten up" your holiday spread. These "tips" not only steal the joy from holiday foods, but likely set you up to binge on the foods you're trying to avoid. There's nothing like eating plain raw celery instead of a slice of pie to make you feel unsatisfied and deprived. With diety messages like these, it's no surprise that many people dread the holidays because they feel out-of-control around food. So, here's some more helpful tips for navigating parties this holiday season:

1. Don't Restrict Leading Up To The Party

Some diet programs recommend eating less throughout the day or week so you can "give yourself permission" to indulge on the weekend or a "cheat day". This often happens at the holidays too, where people skip meals before holiday feasts because they know they'll overeat later on. It's a total myth that restricting food will help you eat less overall. In fact, it does exactly the opposite. When restricted of energy, your body feels like it's starved and will crave foods that provide energy fast. After all, your body is smart and knows what it needs to prevent you from starving. If you've ever found yourself "eating light" during the day only to binge on cookies at the party or when you get home, you're probably restricting in some way -either mentally (telling yourself you can't eat certain foods at certain times) or physically (not eating enough throughout the day).

2. Plan to Eat Satisfying Foods

There's a HUGE difference between eating to the point of fullness and eating to the point of satisfaction. Lots of people fill up on veggies, salads, or fruit at parties, only to find themselves craving heavier, more satisfying foods even when their stomachs are "full." Satisfaction is the experience of pleasure obtained from a food in combination with the physical satiety necessary to meet your body's needs. So, when you arrive at the party, ask yourself what looks good! If it's cheese, try some of that. If it's a cookie or holiday candy, that's fine too. Then, consider how your body will feel when you eat it. If you know you want a cookie but also know it won't stick with you long, consider adding nuts, veggies and hummus, or cheese to help round out the snack.

3. Savor with Permission

Eating slowly and enjoying food is key to satisfaction. The goal of eating slowly and mindfully, however, should not be to eat as little of the food as possible, but to enjoy it fully. Mindfulness can often feel restrictive if you make it your goal to eat "only half" of the piece of pie, or if you are terrified of going one bite beyond the point of "perfect fullness" (by the way, there is no such thing!). Eat your favorite foods, recognizing that you are allowed to go back for seconds if you want. Cuing into how the food tastes and how your body feels will help you know whether or not to continue eating - no calorie tally required.

For many people, it feels strange (or even completely foreign) to eat foods the actually enjoy. However, we think you'll find that this makes for a much more enjoyable, more satisfying, and less chaotic eating experience that leaves you free to enjoy the festivities.

#bingeeating #holidays #mindfulness #intuitiveeating

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