Dietitians guide to guilt-free holiday eating (Taylor)
Lots of unhealthy actions accompany the holidays. Unhealthy actions find their root in unhealthy thoughts. So we need to think differently. That’s why I asked my friend, Sloan Taylor, to write about this issue. She is extremely qualified to help us all, and I love that she has always approached this issue in a thoughtful, gracious way.
Almost every day of my professional life I am asked about weight and expectations. My job as a Registered Dietitian involves the health and food choices of everyone I meet. It is no surprise that I have nearly the same conversation each day … but what saddens me is that people have attached guilt to eating.
The holidays are upon us and that means excessive food and excessive guilt. People become “fatalistic” in both their food choices and in the amount they eat. “What’s the difference since I already blew it?” is a common statement. But take that back to the source of their frustration. I think what they are really saying is, “I am guilty … so guilty and reckless I will be”. It’s like they give themselves a license to eat even more once they make their first mistake.
So take a step back and look at it from my perspective.
We were created to survive. Therefore, we have permission to eat. Done. The guilt lies within the amount.
To every person I consult, I “grant” the ability to eat a breakfast, a lunch, and a dinner. And it’s to be done guilt-free. There are so many that skip meals to adjust their weight, only to find they gain more. Why? Because the body rebels when you don’t feed it correctly. Your body needs to be fed. Withholding food only forces it to become stingy with what you feed it when you finally feed it. I could go into grand detail but I will refrain.
If you are in the habit of skipping a meal (breakfast is, unfortunately, the most skipped), start eating a small, healthy bite in the morning. You can eat a small cup of yogurt. You can eat a fruit. You can do this. And you will feel better and see better results
This holiday season would be a fantastic time to grant yourself permission to eat. Not permission to overeat. Not permission to consistently make poor food choices. Just give yourself permission to eat as if you were taking care of your body.
Want cake? Have a small piece and stop.
Want pumpkin pie? Fit that into the meal by decreasing something else on the plate.
Nothing can stop you from enjoying a few bites or a small portion of ONE thing and then calling it good.
Look at the holidays as a test to see if you can avoid weight gain. I teach all my patients, clients, and athletes this fundamental concept: Weigh no more on January 1st than what you weighed before Thanksgiving. Enter the holidays with the healthy mentality that food is not the enemy, overeating is what you have to reckon with. Start the New Year with habits that are already in place, instead of extreme guilt.
Perhaps this needs to be your thought: This year I resolve to eat as if I care about my health.
Sloan Taylor is a Clinical Dietitian at Saint Francis Hospital and the Sports Dietitian for the University of Tulsa. She is also an adjunct professor for the TU School of Nursing and enjoys teaching Sports Nutrition for those who major in Exercise Science or Athletic Training. header photo by K Yankov