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Holiday Eating

The Petty Tyrant of Holiday Eating

November 22, 20225 min read

I was recently reading an article about Biosphere 2, a biosphere that scientists had created about 30 years ago. People lived inside the closed biosphere as an experiment / research project on closed structures sustaining life. It’s a little more complicated than that, but you get the jist. They planted trees, plants in this closed environment. The trees did very well and actually grew taller much faster than trees on the outside of the biosphere, but the trees fell over before reaching maturation. What happened? Lack of wood stress – and wind - is needed in order to make a tree’s roots grow deep and strong. Lack of wind, means roots don’t spread and grow. Even the trees’ bark in the biosphere wasn’t as thick as a natural tree’s bark due to lack of stress. We are the same way. We need wind, challenges, obstacles, and good stress in order to make us stronger. Just like exercise and weight lifting strengthens our bones, our challenges build our creativity and character.

HeatherAsh Amara, who is the author of the Warrior Heart Practice and Warrior Goddess Training points out that we have people in our lives she calls Petty Tyrants. I love that term! Petty tyrants are that one person who can make life miserable with one word or a glance. They’re mean. They’re out to make everyone miserable. We all feel we would be in a better place if those petty tyrants just disappeared forever. But have you ever noticed that if one petty tyrants leaves, another Petty Tyrant just takes their place? We must  learn to navigate and strengthen ourselves in order to survive life’s petty tyrants.

Today, I wanted to twist the meaning of petty tyrants and link it to our diets, especially holiday eating which adds undue stress for many clients during an already stressful time. What we put into our bodies during the holidays can derail our healthy eating habits that we have built over the past summer and fall. For the next few weeks or even months, it’s an obstacle course of holiday eating and treats. And more treats. More heavy dishes. The pecan pie, egg nogg, second helpings, the cookies, the goodies, the alcohol we will all want to enjoy and celebrate with during holiday parties and over the holidays can make us feel like throwing all our healthy habits out the window. But what if we changed our point of view and saw holiday eating as a moment to get curious about ourselves and how we approach nourishing our bodies for the next few months?

These next few weeks are moments that can be times to strengthen our strategies and open our minds to curiosity and self-compassion.

I invite you to lose that shame and guilt over holiday eating and replace it with curiosity. And compassion. This is a judgment free zone (JFZ).

Just because we go to a party, we drink and we’re merry and maybe overindulge just a bit, doesn’t mean we should be ashamed of everything we ate, or the next day we can’t embrace balanced eating. We don’t have to throw away all the healthy meals we had planned for the following week, just because we “party-hardy’d” for one night! It might take some effort to make that healthy soup, especially because many of us have blood sugar dysfunction after all those calories and yummy foods. We might have to put those running shoes next to the door to remind us to go to the gym, but we’re going to remember how nourishing the soup’s warmth makes us feel and how great we feel after a session at the gym. We’re still going to hit the gym, because all is not lost. We’re back on track the next day. All hope is not lost!

I have many wonderful people wanting to coach with me to discuss their own unique strategies to live confidently and best the holiday “eating season blues” as one of my clients calls it. So as we wander into the next few months where temptation is dancing sugar cookies and sugar plums, let’s also embrace some strategies to holiday eating with curiosity and lack of judgment. Flexing the muscle of restraint gets easier with time. Having a plan or strategy during the most challenging times also helps so we are not just relying on willpower.

1.      Eat before a holiday party so you’re not famished.

2.      Take a smaller plate at buffets.

3.      Fill up on crudites or vegetables. Don’t forget these antioxidant rich foods.

4.      Nibble and really enjoy the foods you’re wanting to eat.

5.      Stay hydrated with water. Switch between a serving of wine, beer or alcohol and a glass of water.

6.      Make time for sleep. This is not the time to skimp on sleep! Lack of sleep and overeating correlate.

7.      Get moving! Find an exercise you enjoy and stick with it. If you need to break it up into 10 minutes three times a day, that’s fine!

8.      And get curious! Like the trees that needed wind to have their root systems make them anchored and strong, the holidays and challenges around food can open up curiosity instead of judgment.

 The next day when we wake up and have some lemon water, do some gentle streteching to welcome the day, let’s get curious about what worked and didn’t work and pivot for the next celebration that is coming up. Make it fun, make it merry! Let’s make winter a healthy time of year. Unique from all the other seasons as we celebrate nature’s “sleep”. Health can still be a priority on our list as we navigate the season. There are lots of great ways to enjoy this season and all the foods you love without having a guilt hangover the next day. Let this be a time to hone our healthy eating skills and get curious with these celebrations about moderation and how indulge like Goldilocks - “just right”.

Wishing all of you a joyful and peaceful holiday season! We have so many reasons to celebrate. BeSpoke Nutrition and Health Coaching is delighted to be a part of your happiest holidays.

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