Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Holidays and Guilt

We are officially into the holiday season now, and it is time for all of the weight loss companies to start throwing preliminary guilt at everyone in order to prime their potential customers for the Weight Loss Resolution Season.

What is it about the human psyche that will not allow us to just enjoy a holiday without throwing guilt and self-castigation around like confetti?  Why do we seem to think that we don't deserve a little fun without beating ourselves up for it?  I think that we should all take a serious look at how we approach the holidays and make a stand for a more realistic view of things.

The fact of the matter is that very few people gain a lot of weight over the holiday season.  A clinical study published in Nutrition Review in 2000 showed that the average adult gains 0.8 pounds from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day.  Yup...less than one pound.  And yet how many people will spend the entire season talking about their weight, thinking about their weight, and denying themselves because of their fear of their weight?  The experts have repeatedly stated that it isn't what you eat on Thanksgiving or Christmas (or even most of the month of December for that matter) that causes issues, it is what is eaten every day throughout the year.

If we tie this in with the basics of intuitive eating, then freaking out about holiday treats is even more ridiculous.  When we eat intuitively, and we learn to listen to our bodies, we find that while we enjoy that slice of holiday cheesecake, or that turkey dinner with gravy and mashed potatoes, we also hear when our bodies say "please stop now" and we do so.  If we really LISTEN to ourselves, we aren't going to overindulge throughout the entire season, because we'll know when our body says, "All of these treats taste great, but I would really love some vegetables right now."  We can indulge without going crazy.

What tends to happen most of the time, though, is that people stop listening to their bodies, and they deny themselves even the smallest of treats.  Then, when they are in a setting which allows for them to have things they may not normally eat, they go overboard and eat until they make themselves sick.  Then they use that to justify even stricter denial, which leads to another binge in the future.  This isn't healthy behavior, and if we stopped and got off the denial / binge cycle, we would see how it begins to rule our lives.

So take a moment right now, Dear Readers, and have a chat with yourselves.  Figure out your comfort levels when it comes to holiday treats and listening to your body.  If you've not practiced intuitive eating for a while then maybe you want to be a little more aware of how the food that you eat tastes and makes you feel.  Listen to when your body says to stop eating something or when it asks you for another kind of food.  If you have been following an intuitive eating pattern, then keep a sharper ear out than normal because there will be things available to you that aren't around the rest of the year and nostalgia or scarcity may override your body's inner voice.  No worries if it happens, don't beat yourself up over it, just adjust your inner volume up a bit so that you're more aware in the future.

We only get candy canes, gingerbread men, baked ham with pineapple rings and cherries, sweet potato casserole, and other holiday offerings for a short time each year.  They are foods made with love and with the intention of sharing.  Let yourself enjoy them.  Let yourself really taste them.  And when your body says enough, let yourself stop.  When your body says that it is time to do a little movement to work off the sluggishness, then move...and ENJOY it.

Lets enjoy our holidays this year, because as with all good things, they will never be exactly like this again.  Love your family and friends, and just as importantly, love yourselves.

Blessed Yule, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, Joyous Kwanzaa, Happy Holidays...whatever you prefer.  Thank you for sharing my journey with me, even if it has fits and stops now and then.  I appreciate that you read my maunderings and the feedback that I've gotten over the past year.

Now go and ENJOY!!!! :)

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