With the onset of holidays, the mind starts to dream of all the delicious treats and possibilities that will abundantly flow from every corner turned.
There is something so divine and inviting about the thoughts of what may show up on the dinner table, in our work kitchens, as gifts from our friends, or even in our own kitchens as we recreate those foods that bring memories and joys and tradition.
The food-body-mind connection is so strong and powerful! It can tempt us to eat foods that we do not eat all year long and it can tempt us to (over)indulge in foods that we try so hard to swear off day in and day out.
Don’t get me wrong– we are all human with with egos and mental convictions that can make each one of us respond in ways that can be totally out of character of our norms. Even the most devoted health-goer can cave under the grips of tempting food from time to time.
And, this is part of a healthy lifestyle! Indulging in foods that bring you happiness and joy and connection to something bigger than yourself is part of true whole person wellness.
The real cause for concern is when falling prey to the temptations of sugary, fat-laden indulgences because a regular occurrence or when you find it challenging to push yourself away from the plate of holiday decadence.
Every holiday season, I hear the same chitter-chatter. At the dessert table. At holiday parties. In the work lunch rooms. In the gym locker room. The chitter-chatter is excuses and the excuses are as to why the pounds pile on over the holidays and why saying ‘no’ to holiday treats is nearly impossible for many.
What always intrigued me was why the foods grip us so tightly. From a purely physical viewpoint, when the body craves something, it often means it is lacking a vital nutrient. And, when we feed our bodies what it lacks, that craving begins to subside. But, when looking through the lens of reality, these cravings may be rearing their ugly heads because of a mental association, elevated stress, and even the physical changes that certain foods have on the human body. What are those foods?
They truly wreck havoc on the body. When consumed individually, their appeal is not so much. But when combined together in such a way that creates a delight to the palate, a smile appears and the eyes shine bright. The mouth salivates and the brain and palate start to physically alter to crave more of these foods.
They do not nourish the body or provide any vital nutrients that it needs. They truly are void of many vital vitamins and minerals. Yet, we want them so badly!
Oh for the love – why?
I recently read that sugar is 8x more addictive than cocaine. 8x more addictive! It creates a boost of serotonin to the brain that elevates our mood and makes us feel all happy inside. The problem with this is that, overtime, the brain begins to decrease it’s natural serotonin production – resulting in slight to serious depression – and we as new found lovers of that serotonin rush find ourselves craving and caving into the delights of treats and sweets and candy land happiness. Ahhhh…
And then there is unhealthy fats.
Don’t get me wrong – Fat has a huge, vital role in basic bodily functions and nourishing the hair, skin, nails, and brain. Most healthy diets benefits from higher levels of fats, but it is the kind of fat that makes or breaks the physical body.
Choosing fatty foods that are high in saturated fats and trans fats or that are cooked with vegetable oils, conventional dairy products, and conventional animal fats can be quite damaging to the body.
You may or may not be aware of all of this. For some, this is enough to turn a cold heart towards that work cookie platter. For others, this is helpful information, but when faced with temptation in the moment, this just is not enough.
And, that I can totally appreciate.
Here are my top 10 tips to have on hand for when you KNOW something is not good for you, but you can’t seem to just say no –
- Only indulge in what you can’t indulge in regularly. This is one of my favorite tips and has helped me many times. Make it a rule that you will only indulge in foods that you can only get once or twice a year. There is something so special and more satisfying when you know that you can only get a certain food at a certain time of year verses being able to eat a cookie that you can get anytime just by driving to the supermarket.
- Eat a breakfast high in protein and healthy fats. Starting your day off with a high protein and healthy fat breakfast will balance out your hormones and your blood sugar levels, leaving you less likely to crave sweets and suffer the harsh affects of blood sugar crashes later on in the day.
- Increase the amount of healthy fats in your daily diet. Choosing healthy foods dispersed throughout your day will create more mental and physical satiety. You will be less likely to feel the need to satisfy a fat-fix if you are already giving you body higher levels of healthy fats. What fats should you choose? Opt for avocados, extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil, raw organic butter, ghee, nuts, and seeds (especially walnuts, cashews, almonds, and nut butters). Want to also increase your omega-3 fatty acids? Eat wild-caught salmon, sardines packed in water or olive oil, herring, and black cod (sablefish, butterfish); omega-3 fortified eggs; hemp seeds and flaxseeds (preferably freshly ground); or take a fish oil supplement (look for products that provide both EPA and DHA, in a convenient daily dosage of two to three grams).
- Don’t go to a party, event, or function hungry. When we are hungry, our hormones and stress levels will be unbalanced, leaving us open and susceptible to cravings. Have a healthy snack that includes some carbs for the “feel-good” response and some fat and protein to keep your cravings at bay for a prolonged period.
- Pack healthy snacks when you are out shopping, running errands, or at work. Nothing says binging faster than getting caught hungry with no snacks as a back up plan. Choose fruits, nuts and seeds, trail mix, and protein bars/shakes.
- Take a few deep belly breaths and then walk away. Stress increases our cravings for comfort foods – unhealthy fat, sugar, and processed foods. 3-5 deep, slow, belly breaths can decrease the immediate tension and stress leaving us feel a bit more calm, collected, and level headed. Then walk away – out of sight, out of mind.
- Drink water or caffeine-free tea. People often mistake thirst for hunger. Drink a glass of water and then wait 10-15 minutes to see if you are really hungry or just thirsty. Add some lemon, lime, or drink hot tea for added flavor and health benefits.
- Outwit yourself with your mind. You know that our mind controls what we do. Why not use it to our advantage. Think of the indulgence in terms of individual ingredients. Focus on each one of the ingredients entering your body and how they will effect you. Think of the sluggishness, decreased mental clarity, sugar crash, bloating, digestive issues, fatigue and maybe it will not seem so appealing after all.
- Enjoy the people, the holiday spirit and joy, and the environment around you. Allow yourself to be mindful and truly engage in what is going on around you. Take in the conversations, enjoy the cool air on your skin, listen to the holiday music and feel the excitement that it builds inside you. Use your other senses to experience, rather than just your taste buds!
- Choose alternatives to white sugar. There are healthier options to the white sugar that is so damaging to our bodies. Sugar is sugar, but some sugars are a bit more healthy for you. What sweet treats or sweeteners should we choose instead? Opt for fruits, dates, raw honey, stevia, and 100% maple syrup in moderation for healthy alternatives.
Positive thinking goes a very long way! Truly, our mind controls our outcomes and can psyche us out even when we think we have everything in complete control.
When we think positive and focus on a positive outcome, positive things come our way. The opposite is true as well. When we think negatively, we draw negative actions into our lives.
Deprivation is directly connected to this mindset. If we focus on NOT wanting to overeat and NOT wanting to give into temptation, what is going to happen? We are more likely to give into temptation and overeat. It is that simple.
Change your mindset and you are better able to set yourself free. Instead of thinking what you do not want to have happen, choose a perspective or an outcome of what you do want to have happen. For example, instead of thinking “I do not want to eat that cookie,” chose to think “I love how in control I feel when I push away that cookie.”
As Charles Haanel once said, “The vibrations of mental forces are the finest and consequently the most powerful in existence.”
Take action now by writing down all of these tips and having them on hand throughout this entire holiday season!
Are you curious about how to manage the stress that can be causing more sugar cravings and indulgences during the holiday seasons? Get my instant download of the “5 Simple Morning Tips To Instantly Create Your Distressed Day” (It’s Free!)
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