November is here and it is not uncommon to hyper focus on “healthy eating” and the restriction mindset as the holidays approach. However, that’s not what true healthy eating is about. How we navigate our own relationship with nutrition affects not only our physical well-being, but also every other dimension of our total wellness wheel.
What restriction doesn't give you...
Restriction does not give us power; restriction lends power to negativity– taking away the healing energy, kindness, and compassionate behavior surrounding the holidays as you spend more quality time with friends, family, and community. This month it is our goal to inspire you to evaluate the way you frame healthy eating, educate yourself on ways to combat unhealthy habits, and engage with strategies to truly enjoy holiday food and celebration. Cheers!
In some capacity, we’ve all known the feeling we’re going to describe in the situation below. Believing restrictions to be the name of the game during the holidays. This type of scarcity mindset all too often leads to intense stress, an anxiety that takes us out of the moment and influences us to make decisions based on fear. If you’ve ever lived in this space, even for a moment, you know it doesn’t serve you for long.
“You’re trying to lose weight over the holiday season. You cut back your calorie intake, weigh your food, and log your calories into a tracking app. Some results show on the scale and even a little in how your clothes fit. You want the weight loss to happen faster, as the holiday parties pick up and you have to see friends, family, or others you haven’t seen since LAST season. You cut back more, restrict yourself farther… each time secretly patting yourself on the back for stopping yourself from enjoying the dishes your loved ones bring to your parties.
Your aunt makes your favorite side dishes and desserts for Thanksgiving. You spend the first hour of the party attempting to enjoy catching up with family, but mentally counting that week’s calories. Did you hold yourself back enough to justify a serving of chicken and dumplings and a small slice of homemade pumpkin pie? You remind yourself “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” and decide that no, you won’t have any. How will your willpower stand up when it comes time to pass the food around the table? Will you cause a scene by refusing your aunt’s food? While trying to smile and enjoy the moment, your mind and body are screaming for dumplings and pie!”
(Adapted from http://laurenmariefleming.com/embracing-an-abundance-mentality-part-1-abolishing-scarcity-mentality-dieting/)
This holiday season, what if we came to the table (literally and figuratively) with an abundance mindset? We don’t mean in an “I can eat whatever I want, whenever I want, and however much I want” type of way. Rather, shift your focus to maximize the servings of essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients in the food you eat. Prioritize color. Emphasize a variety of flavors.
Swaps for an abundance mindset...
Instead of counting calories, count servings of fruits and veggies! “Psychologically, this encourages increased consumption of foods that offer great holistic benefits for our bodies rather than allowing calories to be our only metric of health.”
Use food as a tool! We joke about that much needed afternoon nap after a big holiday meal, but there’s something to it. We’ve overloaded on foods that make us feel, well, overloaded. Instead, what food will FUEL you to play backyard football with your family? Or engage in a silly game of charades?
Make healthy additions to your meals! “The point here is that we need to stop seeing meals as something to shrink down and start seeing them as opportunities to further fulfill our nutritional needs, because that’s exactly what meals are.” For example, what if you made a mixed sweet potato and white potato gratin? Instead of solely putting iceberg lettuce in your dinner salad, add a bit of spinach or spring mix greens in there, too. Or my favorite tip for a holiday gathering… what color do you never see on the dinner table? Bring a veggie side dish of that color!
Stop equating dietary choices with morality! “We are not better people for having a green smoothie just as we are not worse people for eating a donut or snacking on potato chips. We are perfectly made exactly the way that we are, and nutritional decisions don’t have any bearing on our character, so there’s no need to allow the food we consume to negatively impact our self worth!”
We will all face a variety of challenges over the next few months, challenges that will make us second guess our goals, our methods, our motivation, and even our worthiness of fighting for our journey. If we go into it with an abundance mindset, we can have our cake and eat it, too!