Like most Americans, I am eagerly anticipating the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. It is an opportunity to break bread with family, enjoying both the nourishment of good food and the company of loved ones.
However, we all know that a good deal of stress often accompanies the holidays. For many, spending time with loved ones is both a welcome experience and an anxiety inducing one. Family members may have political views that are different from ours – or expectations of us that don’t always align with our own goals and dreams. Finding a way to navigate these disagreements while still enjoying the holiday is often challenging.
In addition, many Americans experience stress at this time of year because they fear over indulging at family meals. As a culture, we spend a great deal of our energy scrutinizing what we put in our bodies. The prospect of facing what we see as temptation can be quite stressful.
My advice for enjoying the holiday season is to be true to yourself – and your own knowledge of what you want and need. When it comes to interacting with family members, tell yourself ahead of time that your beliefs and dreams are right for you. Whatever they may say to convince you otherwise, you know yourself best. If you take a moment before family gatherings to remind yourself of this, you can take your family’s comments with a grain of salt, responding politely without allowing their words to bother you. If you have confidence in your own beliefs, that means you are not looking to your family for validation, and you can simply enjoy their company.
As far as anxiety over eating, keep in mind that guilt tripping yourself over food is more destructive than the occasional slice of pumpkin pie. Stress hormones lower your metabolism, so eating under stress is more likely to cause weight gain than eating with pleasure. In addition, feeling guilty when you “slip up” or feeling deprived when you fail to allow yourself to enjoy your favorite foods are excellent ways to sabotage a healthy lifestyle.
So again, it comes down to being true to yourself. If you trust yourself to gauge what your body needs, you won’t overeat. You’ll be able to enjoy your favorite dishes at the holidays without binging and stuffing yourself. And you’ll trust in your ability not to fall off the wagon and to return to your normal eating habits the next day. As with so many things in life, the key to enjoying the holidays is trusting your own inner wisdom.