Holiday Mindset: How to Get Out of Your Head and be Present With the People and Food You Love Most

The holidays can be hard. The stress of family gatherings, impressing people with the food we make and the gifts we bring, jumping from one party to the next, over exercising to counteract our indulgences or not exercising at all because the stress is too exhausting. But what if I told you that there are simple things we can practice to try and counteract the stress of things during the holidays that we can’t control. 

Both my husband and I come from divorced families, so for the past four years we have walked into the holidays expecting laughter and enjoying good food, but walked away so exhausted because of the stress of trying to please everyone we love and not taking care of our bodies in the process. While trying to people please, I used to always over think my meal choice and how much I could exercise to finally enjoy a slice of pumpkin pie that I love or some extra cranberry sauce. Some of you might be thinking, “girl you’re crazy, I definitely let myself indulge during the holidays with no remorse,” if that is you, rock on and keep it up, but I know that many of you can relate with me here.

I am so grateful that I have finally realized that the holidays can be full of enjoyment and also indulgence.

Here is what it took: 

First, it took me learning that my body is worth honoring the entire year. My body is worth me choosing a whole, nutrient dense diet all year round, and also the occasional treats that I enjoy. It is worth that. It is worth learning how to consciously choose what I eat because I have learned what my body needs and what it doesn’t, and if any time throughout the year I choose to eat ice cream it is because I know I will enjoy it then. It takes time to learn how to consciously choose, but in the learning, it is wise to always extend extra kindness to yourself, and this kindness should always be extended into the holidays.

Second, it took me tuning into the stress of the holidays and how that plays into my eating choices and behaviors. Most of the time we can track some sort of eating behavior back to stress. Whether that be a lack of eating, binge eating or using eating as a form of escape, most of our behavior can be traced back to stress. Be mindful that for most people the holidays can bring many different forms of stress, so pause throughout the day, check in with yourself, and allow more self awareness to guide you through the day and through meal time. 

Third, optimize digestion. But how? Through what we have talked about above, extending kindness to ourselves, checking in and slowing down, we automatically bring our bodies back into more of a rest and digest state. In this state, our bodies are able to metabolize and digest our food in a much more efficient way than when we are in a state of stress. When we are able to digest our food the way it needs to be, we give our minds and bellies the chance to feel full and satisfied, and also reap the nutritional benefits from the whole nutrient dense foods we have chosen, and even feel more joy about the treats we have consciously chosen to eat. 

Fourth, and maybe the most important, enjoy the ones you love and look forward to building those relationships just as much as you look forward to eating your favorite foods. Just as the holidays are about food, they are also about relationships and community. So much of my self awareness habits have come from getting outside of my head and being so worried about food choices, and on to building loving relationships with the community and people I love the most. 

So my friends, this holiday season can be full of joy, laughter and pumpkin pie with extra whipped cream on top. Let’s learn to always extend kindness to ourselves, check in, breathe and continue on the path towards exploration and of course, optimal digestion. 

By: Jenny Meadows