This article was initially published on Best Holistic Life magazine
The holiday season is a beautiful time and an opportunity to get together with friends and family and have a good time. And what are social gatherings without food?! Going from one dinner to another might sound like fun to some people, yet it is quite terrifying to others. How do you say „No“ to a host? Can you say „No“ to your grandma? What if you don’t want to say „No“ to a pie but have your fitness and physique goals? This can be so stressful! In this article, I’ll provide tips on how to enjoy your holiday treats without guilt.
Food and emotions are inseparable. We can become happy or sick alone from thinking about specific foods. We choose different foods when we are happy and rested versus tired and angry. We might even confuse hunger feeling with loneliness or boredom. Yet sometimes, we still consider food a simple fuel for our bodies.
Especially fitness enthusiasts or even athletes, more often than not, tend to the mindset, „It’s just a fuel“. And, of course, food is what gives us the energy, fuels our performance, and what our bodies need to simply function. However, it’s much more than just that. Food is also a huge part of our social life, events, and even religion.
There is also a lot of social pressure since a „diet culture“ is so deeply lived in our society. We can get judged a lot alone by our food choices. It doesn’t even matter whether your diet is healthy or not. And what is a „healthy diet“ anyway? For example, eating vegetables might sound like a bad choice for a carnivore diet follower, but at the same time, eating meat could be considered unhealthy or unethical by a vegan diet follower.
And what if you try to watch your portions or follow a stricter diet? It is easy to get that nagging feeling that maybe you shouldn’t eat what you want, should not have eaten what you ate, or perhaps just shouldn’t go out and socialize at all. That’s a lot of guilt and pressure here! It doesn’t have to be this way, though.
Here are some tips that might help you enjoy this holiday season without guilt and, instead, have a great time with your friends and family.
1. Talk to your host
If you are too worried about an upcoming dinner, talk to your host. Ask them what food choices there might be and if you should bring something too. Let them know ahead of if you have any kinds of allergies or intolerances. The same applies if you are on a strict diet, close to a competition, or similar.
Don’t make a big deal of it or overexplain yourself. Stay polite, and simply get or tell the information you want. I’m sure you will be understood, and if not.. it’s okay too. Always stay true to yourself and your choices!
2. Adapt your day
When an event that might include a lot of food later in the day, you could adapt your day so that you still do not overeat. You can make your breakfast and lunch lighter, with a lot of protein and fewer carbohydrates and fats. That way, you will still stay satiated through the day, get enough protein, and can eat more at the holiday dinner without any regrets.
Alternatively, you can eat like always though out the day so that you are still a bit full by dinner. However, don’t make the mistake of barely eating before. You will be starving by dinner time and could easily overeat the food you don’t want. That’s when a typical guilt feeling could come afterward, and we don’t want that.
3. Be mindful
Be mindful of your food choices wherever you are: at the dinner party, at home, or while shopping. When choosing a meal or an item for your shopping cart, ask yourself if it’s truly what you want and if it would also be good for your body.
I’m not talking about over-restricting, but rather about being honest with yourself. When you have a more mindful, kind approach to yourself and your body, you will be happy with your choices.
4. Remember what the holidays are about
Holidays often mean a lot of different foods, that’s true. But that’s only because food is a big part of our social lives, as I mentioned above. It may be easy to forget what the holidays are truly about — joy, you, your friends, your family.
Trust me, even in a peak week before a bodybuilding competition, you will still find something great to eat without compromising your goals and physique. Do not make the holidays just about food.
5. It’s okay to say no
Finally, understand that sometimes, it’s also okay to say no — whether to a specific food, alcohol, or maybe even an invitation. If you are too tired or simply do not want to go, even if you feel obligated to, just don’t. We have to be mindful of our physical and mental resources too, so it’s totally okay to set some boundaries if you need to.
However, if you are saying no only because you are afraid to eat something „wrong“, although you would like to be in the company of your friends and family, please do yourself a favor and enjoy yourself!