In a previous blog I talked about how in times of stress our bodies go into fight or flight mode. This mode triggers our stress hormones which sometimes can feel quite addictive, giving us a high feeling. To read more about how stress can affect our hunger signals and what to do about it click HERE.
Positive events can also increase these hormones, referred to as eustress. Thanksgiving is a perfect example: the travel, the family, last minute grocery shopping. It makes sense why you'd crave a sweet or salty treat to keep the blood sugar levels going (cue Grandmaster Flash & Mellie Mel's White Lines).
The trick here is not to demonize sugar OR isolate yourself in a meditative state until January. Read on to learn for some suggestions on how to stay grounded just in time to prepare for December holidays...
Rule #1 Eat like you love yourself
At family gatherings I always used to hear family members say, "Tomorrow I'm going to get back on the wagon." Which usually meant the Weight Watchers wagon. Overeating past the point of comfort today and then depriving yourself tomorrow may not be as painful as throwing yourself from a moving vehicle but it can definitely wreak havoc both mentally and physically. Personally, if I have to be on a wagon I'd prefer it to be a G-Wagon. Sometimes you will be in the mood to go fast, sometimes you will prefer to slow down and park in the French countryside somewhere and enjoy a cheese board. Allow yourself foods you love that are nourishing and satisfying, enjoy them, stop when you are full and live to eat leftovers another day.
Rule #2 Eat like a Cordon Bleu Chef
Holiday foods are not typically what we would make on an everyday basis which makes them special. However, getting out of our routine can be a little upsetting to the digestive system. Certain nostalgic foods can be richer or have more sodium than we are used to. If you've ever had onion dip with Lipton's French Onion Soup Mix and sour cream then you know what I am talking about. The famous Le Cordon Bleu School states that when the 5 flavors of salty, sweet, sour, bitter and umami are balanced the entire dining experience is elevated. I love adding this Fennel Apple Salad with Walnuts to a Thanksgiving meal for a crisp and refreshing compliment to creamy mashed potatoes and savory stuffings. Not only will getting some veggies give you nutrients, fiber and hydration that will aid digestion but you will enjoy all the other foods even more. So I would say have that onion dip if you love it but pair it with some crudités to make that creamy texture pop.
Rule #3 Eat like a Nutrition Expert
Just as you wouldn't go to the hairdresser for a toothache, unless your Aunt Wanda is a nutritionist then you shouldn't feel obligated to eat according to the latest article she read in Better Homes & Gardens. Also worth mentioning: nutritionist or not no one should be giving advice unless specifically asked. Assuming I won't be with you at Thanksgiving realize that now you are the authority. Now I have a ton of suggestions that work for me like taking five deep breaths before a meal or having some mint tea after to settle digestion or going for a walk. But here is the reality-perhaps answering that last work text is going to give you more peace of mind than leaving it for Monday, and if you are going to Thanksgiving in Iowa no one is taking a walk in 7 degree weather. Maybe holding a toddler and sipping tea sounds more stressful than soothing. Take some time to think about what makes you feel good and what helps you tune into your inner expert.
Recognize that creating a healthy relationship with food is a practice. Always reach out for help if you could use support bridging structure and flexibility.
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