The holiday season is upon us, bringing with it lots of delicious foods to enjoy. It also brings a slew of unhelpful messaging, encouraging us to restrict or feel guilty when we enjoy a treat.
We asked registered Dietitian and VIS Expert ™ Angie Asche to help us navigate the harmful messaging around food during the holidays and cultivate a healthy mindset so we can enjoy this festive season.
Notice the feelings
Feeling extra anxious or stressed around the holidays is normal. It’s okay to notice these feelings and acknowledge the discomfort they bring. Being in tune with how we are feeling gives us the best opportunity to take action and move forward productively.
Remember the facts
Just because we feel a certain way about food around the holidays—say, that eating a sugar cookie will land us on the naughty list—does not necessarily mean we are correct. For example, we may feel stressed about having dessert with holiday dinner because we think it’ll hurt our workout the next day. In reality, “in most cases, unhealthy thoughts and obsessing around foods are way more harmful than the foods themselves,” says Asche.
“Food is so much more than just numbers—it’s also tradition, connection, comfort.”
To put the holiday season in perspective, Asche suggests looking at the bigger picture. We have 3 meals per day, 365 days per year, which is 1095 meals total. Having 10 special holiday meals with family still accounts for less than 1% of our total meals for the year. Asche says that consistency throughout the year matters more than just the holiday season, and reminds us that “one meal or dessert is not going to make or break our progress.”
Reframe the mindset
Once we have noticed how we feel, and remembered what is and isn’t true about the situation, it’s time to shift to a more positive mindset.
To do this, Asche recommends slowing down and being more present with our food. Rather than judging it as “good” or “bad,” which aren’t helpful labels to apply to food, we can view it as a sensory experience. Concentrate on all its delicious flavors, colors, textures, and smells. Enjoy the act of fueling and satisfying our bodies.
Additionally, practicing gratitude for the time that holiday meals allow us to spend with loved ones can make them more enjoyable. “Food is so much more than just numbers,” Asche says.“It’s also tradition, connection, and comfort.”