Holiday season is upon us and with that comes the food.
All the food.
If you have food issues, if you’re someone who binge eats, then you may just be tempted to skip the whole thing.
But if you’re anything like I was, you’d just end up going to a different party at home – a pity party.
You’d feel sad because you think you’re missing out, you’d feel angry because you think it’s not fair, and you’d feel regretful because you wish you had gone. And the worst thing that could happen? You’d end up eating more food than you would have if you’d gone, but while alone, and end up creating more negative feelings for yourself like guilt or shame.
Problem made worse, and it could have all been avoided if you’d just gone.
But then again, what happens when you do go?
You’ve had many Thanksgivings, holidays, celebrations and parties and your behavior is probably similar every time. So you’re afraid that it’s just going to be the same thing again.
But what if it isn’t this time?
What if you spent some time preparing yourself for what’s to come instead of spending time worrying about it?
Preparation is key here and the more you know what to expect, the easier it is to prepare. And if you don’t know what to expect, you can still prepare anyway.
Make a plan.
When you’re in the moment, surrounded by a wonderful array of food, there is so much chatter that happens in your head. This chatter may actually even begin days or weeks before. Most of it is basically, “Do I eat this or don’t I?” over and over and over and over with reasons why you should or shouldn’t mixed in. That is so not fun to think about and such a waste of energy. So how do you stop all the chatter?
Decide ahead of time.
Decisions you make ahead of time are almost always way better decisions than the ones you make in the moment. In the moment you want to satisfy your current cravings, feelings, or impulses that will only benefit you for that moment – wants like another plate of food, all the cookies and 5 pieces of pie – but right now, you don’t want that for yourself.
Make as many decisions as you can right now, while you’re in a clean emotional space.
How many drinks are you going to drink?
How many plates of food are you going to have?
How many sweets are you going to eat?
Any question that is running through your mind before you go, answer it.
“I’m going to drink 3 drinks.”
“I’m going to have one plate of food.”
“I’m going to eat two sweets.”
The more specific the better.
As you’re filling your one plate and choosing those two sweets, there is one question to ask yourself:
“Do I love this food?”
When you have dozens of options, there are surely going to be foods you love, foods you like, and foods you don’t really care about.
Go for the ones you love.
And if you love all the food, eat all the food, but just a small amount.
Remember, you decided you’re only going to have one plate, make it count.
Regardless of how much variety you have, there is one thing you should do that is so important.
Savor each bite.
Don’t just shovel your food into your mouth and swallow as fast as you can. You’ve taken the time pick out the foods you love, now take the time to actually enjoy them. I know conversations are happening and you’re probably not going to be entirely focused on your food, but make sure to take moments where all you’re doing is experiencing the food in your mouth.
And here’s another thing.
You may think you love all the foods, but as you’re eating it, I want you to ask yourself again if you love it. If the answer is no, stop eating it and proceed to something you do love. If you’re not full by the time you finish eating the foods you actually love, then go back and finish it.
Then there’s the pressure from family members to eat.
I want you to remember these responses and if someone doesn’t like your answer, that’s their problem, not yours.
If before a meal they’re asking why you’re not drinking or eating you simply say, “I’m saving room for the meal.”
If during/after a meal they ask why you’re not eating you say, “I’m full.” (This also can be used at a party without a meal when people want you to be snacking. “I’m not hungry” works just as well).
If someone is pushing you to take leftovers home, and you’re like I was and you know that you’ll just end up eating all of them when you get home, then don’t do it. Just don’t. Tell them it was all wonderful, but you have plenty of food at home.
If anyone is to question these answers then they clearly have their own issue because any “normal eater” would know that these are the most valid reasons for not eating.
So there you go. All decisions are made.
No more worrying about what you’re going to do, you’ve already decided.
All questions have been answered.
Now the hard part of course is sticking to it.
But why wouldn’t you?
You end up creating more chatter in your mind that is so unnecessary.
You think, “Do I go with what I decided or not?” over and over and over and over with the reasons why you should or shouldn’t mixed in.
You’ve just created more decisions for you to make!
Most people hate making decisions. But you have to make one at some point and if that point is when you’re in front of a buffet of food then you’re most likely going to make a decision you won’t be happy with after.
The one you make right now, before you’re there, you most likely will be happy with.
So your options are:
Chatter in your mind about what to eat and how much.
Chatter in your mind about whether to go with what you decided or not.
Decide ahead of time and free your mind.
Which do you choose?
Clearly, I think the third option is the best.
If when the moment comes that you’re in front of the food and you want to change your decision, the answer is “no.” Nope, you already decided, and move on.
If you don’t eat something that’s in front of you, it’s not the end of the world.
Besides, you have a plate of other wonderful foods to enjoy!
Instead of wasting all your mental energy negotiating with yourself, use it to enjoy your time with the people around you.
This may seem like a lot of work, but think about this.
Would you rather do this work beforehand, make all your decisions ahead of time, and then just be able to enjoy yourself the day of without wasting all the mental energy thinking about what and how much you’re going to eat, or would you rather spend the days leading up to it worrying about what’s going to happen and the day of make all kinds of bad decisions in the moment and feel regretful about it later?
Decide ahead of time as specifically as you can and honor those decisions.
Eat only foods that you love.
Savor each bite.
Prepare answers to questions that plague you.