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Beating Holiday Stress: Getting Friendly with Food

The holidays can be a stressful time of the year for so many people! I get it, the non-stop plans, gift buying, scheduling, time with extended family and everything else that comes with the holiday season... It's a lot.

In an effort to make this year a little less stressful, I'm doing a series dedicated to "Beating Holiday Stress". Up next is Getting Friendly with Food...

The holiday season can be a major trigger for anyone that has an unbalanced relationship with food. I can speak from personal experience that I've avoided holiday outings and activities for the sheer purpose of not feeling drawn to the food. I've binged at parties only to quit eating for the next day or so. I've racked myself with guilt for eating a second cookie after dinner. Basically if it has to do with stress around food at the holidays, I've probably experienced at one time or another.

What have I done to combat this stress?

  1. Reframe the way I think of food.

  2. Follow the 80/20 rule.

  3. Remember 1 day won't ruin me.

Reframe the Way You Think About Food.

Food = Fuel and should be thought of as such. Food is not some evil thing that will result in added fat on your body. Instead, it is the fuel you need and get to have while you go about your day. Protein helps to give you the strength to carry all of those holiday gifts. Carbs give you the energy to make it through all of the holiday activities. Fats help you absorb all of the goodness and take advantage of the micronutrients your food gives you.

Follow the 80/20 Rule.

The 80/20 rule is simple. 80% of what you eat is healthy foods and the other 20% is fun foods. It can be broken up any way you see fit. Some people eat healthy 6.5 days of the week and then have a fun meal on the 7th day. I like to eat healthy most of the day and give myself a treat as a snack. During the holidays this may mean that you fill your plate with lean meat and veggies and then enjoy a cocktail and fun desert after dinner.

Remember 1 Day Won't Ruin You.

One Day. One Party. Won't ruin all the progress you've made. It's that simple. It takes roughly 3,500 calories to gain one pound. So maybe you do eat a ton at your family Christmas party, but it's still likely not going to be more than 3.5k calories, so at most, you've "gained" a pound. However, realistically, a lot of that will be water weight. If you go back to your normal diet after the one day, your body will normalize again.

Most importantly... Have FUN! The stress of holiday eating can do more harm than enjoying the treats. So do your best to relax and enjoy yourself, though I know that is much easier said than done.

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