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9 ways to let go of food guilt and keep your holidays happy

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Cara Rosenbloom on 19 Dec 2017

The Straits Times

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Every year around holiday time, there's an influx of articles on how to stick to your healthy eating goals and resist temptation.

 

This year, let's try something new. Instead of stress, pressure and the guilt associated with family dinners and get-togethers, let's create a new narrative that will empower you to feel good about yourself and your food choices.

 

1 I DESERVE TO ENJOY HOLIDAY MEALS WITHOUT GUILT

 

Yes, it's just food. You deserve to take pleasure in it. Food is part of traditions and memories, so sample your favourite cookies and take time to enjoy every bite of a reasonable portion.

 

Focus on how your food smells, looks and tastes without distractions. This is called mindful eating, and it's about fully enjoying what you eat without regret or shame.

 

2 WHAT I EAT EVERY DAY MATTERS MOST

 

Worry less about what you eat over the holidays and concentrate on what you eat year-round.

 

If you have a healthy diet in general, a couple of days of celebratory food won't be detrimental. If you don't usually eat well, make that a goal in the new year.

 

3 I HAVE THE POWER TO CONTROL MY PORTIONS

 

Only you can decide how much food to eat, and that decision should be based on listening to your body.

 

Slow down and notice how your stomach feels before you start eating. If you're still hungry, have another bite. But when you're almost full, stop eating.

 

4 I AM ENTITLED TO EAT SECONDS OR SAY 'NO, THANK YOU' WHEN I'M FULL

 

Remember that you don't need to make someone else happy by overeating or by denying your hunger. It's the norm to eat more when a host graciously offers more, but it doesn't need to be.

 

Have faith in your ability to make good choices, and trust your own appetite.

 

5 IT'S NORMAL TO OVERINDULGE DURING THE HOLIDAYS

 

It's human! Accept that you did and move on. Try not to become trapped in punishing self-talk or restrictive dieting behaviours. When you enjoy every bite, it often takes less food to satisfy cravings.

 

6 I WILL EAT WHEN I'M HUNGRY, NOT WHEN I'M FEELING EMOTIONAL

 

Many of us eat when we're lonely, bored, sad or stressed, and those emotions can run wild at holiday time. Even the stress of being with certain family members can trigger people to overeat.

 

There are more effective remedies for dealing with these feelings. It is different for everyone, but calling a friend, exercising or meditating could work.

 

7 I DON'T NEED TO 'HEALTHIFY' MY TRADITIONAL HOLIDAY RECIPE

 

Enjoy your favourites as they should be - it's just once a year! Really - no one wants sugarless sugar cookies or eggnog made from almond milk and flaxseeds.

 

8 I PROMISE NOT TO COMMENT ON THE SIZE, SHAPE OR WEIGHT OF MY FRIENDS AND RELATIVES

 

Their weight is their business, not yours. The same is true for you. So if you are met with a rude comment about your appearance, it's fine to say why it's not okay.

 

9 I WILL ENJOY QUALITY TIME WITH PEOPLE I LOVE

 

A very long-term (75-plus years) Harvard study has been examining what makes people happy over the course of their lives. And it's not a number on a scale or how many cookies they eat.

 

Close relationships are the key to long-term health and happiness. So this year, mark the holidays by spending time with people you love, and try not to fret too much about what you will have for dinner.

 

THE WASHINGTON POST

 

Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.