The Holidays are just around the corner, and I’m already cringing at all the food and sugar and drinks there will be. I want to enjoy the season, but I’ve got a history of overeating. I’ve tried all the advice you read in magazines like counting calories, eating off smaller plates, and having a salad before a party. Thing is, I’m smarter than the plates or the calories, and I know how to bend the rules. Isn’t there something else I can try that will work better – preferably with alcohol? Thanks for your advice.
Stuffing the Stuffing in Newport, CT
Dear Stuffing the Stuffing,
I’m reading your email and doing a halleluah jig! I love it when all of our best efforts have failed us. Why? Because these sorts of letdowns reveal how bankrupt most quick tips are of any real power. That realization is the beginning of change. Truth is, the end of one experiment is often the beginning of a new route not thought of before. It’s through repeated trial and error that I’ve discovered the kind of success that trumps the tricks and leads to lasting results. In this regard, there are no failures. We’re all just learning as we go, peeling the layers away and (sometimes) crying over our onion. Sounds like you’re ready to go deeper and make a hearty, life-stew out of those onions.
Before I reveal the recipe, though, I’m glad you mentioned the Big Three tips for portion control that have been chewed-to-death. You’re right. We are smarter. (Really? Who knew? WE DID!) The truth is, when I want more food, I’ll find a way to get it. Counting calories? Heck, I’ll just do two work outs – tomorrow. Smaller plate? No worries, I just go for seconds. Become Vegetarian before the Christmas Party? Hah! There’s plenty of room in my gullet for red wine and a lick off the ol’ cheese ball. Like I said, we’re smarter than any diet rules.
That’s why I’m working on a new eGuide called, “Ditch the Diet.” Without diet rules, I’m left to my own wanderings and designs. I have to learn to follow my gut instincts. So far, my gut hasn’t failed. It’s not that I’ve totally surrendered and become a fudge whore. Rather, I’ve discovered why I eat, which has changed how I eat, which has transformed what I eat. I want the same for you, so let me start you off with three ways to trust your own gut and bypass the overeating drama throughout the Holidays and beyond.
- Make friends with food. The Holidays are about celebration, and when we go to work in the dark and get home in the dark, we need a reason to celebrate. When I realized most of my Holiday snarfing was out of this simple – yet critical – need, then I embraced the buffet.
Practical Idea: Give yourself permission to celebrate with food. See the spread as a gift rather than a burden. Then rejoice with a few of your favorites. Relish them. Let them sing Christmas carols to you as all that merriment melts on your tongue and drizzles all the way down.
- Less is more. When I feel deprived, I eat more. When I feel content, I eat less. Contentment, however, comes in many packages. Self-care is one form. When I discovered my tendency to put myself last in the storm of holiday busy-ness, I started tracking my contentment level. Turns out, a lot of my overeating stemmed from a latent sense of neglect. I literally came to the table starving for attention. As I learned to cull the herd of holiday to-do’s, I made space to do something special for me each day, however small. My contentment level rose and my overeating lessened.
Practical Idea: Brainstorm tiny things that bring you joy and unwrap these moments like a petite present to yourself each day. You’ll be less inclined to stuff the stuffing because you’re already full on the inside.
- Give Baby Jesus a break and stop demonizing your food. When I label a food “bad,” I judge myself a “failure” when I eat it. Feeling weak or lazy is the quickest path to giving up, which means I’m primed for a gorge session. I can reroute this whole vicious cycle by ending the good/bad labelling of food and asking instead, “How will this bite make me feel?” At the very least, this makes me more honest with myself. At best, I create just enough space inside to make an intentional choice and accept the consequences.
Practical Idea: Next time you’re holding a paper plate of goodies, examine each one and imagine how it will make you feel. The next step will be entirely, deliciously yours.
You may notice a common theme in these ideas. They all create connection. In fact, they’re less about food and more about you reconnecting with you. Carrying too much weight can, over time, cause you to disconnect from your body and your heart. It’s no wonder, then, that when they need attention, they’ll use food to get it. The good news: your rich relationship with food can be your best teacher. This year, sideline the snappy tips — which only serve to keep you disconnected, anyway – and ask more of your food than the same old “should I/shouldn’t I” scuffle. Let food serve as your guru, your mentor, your minister. When the new year arrives, you will have gained so much more than the ten pounds everyone else did while staying in the struggle.
I’ve discovered why I eat, which has changed how I eat, which has transformed what I eat.
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