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The holidays can be a stressful time for many. Couple it with family time, a disturbance in your regular routine and eating foods that you typically wouldn’t allow yourself to - it is a recipe for feeling anxious and stressed. The holiday season is the most common time of the year when routines and progress regarding health goals and meal plans typically get derailed. Most of the time, you are travelling and do not have access to your go-to kitchen devices such as a blender for smoothies, or a toaster for avocado toast with a poached egg on top. The holidays do not have to be as stressful as we make them on ourselves, nor do we have to feel guilty for easing up on our healthier ways of eating. In today’s blog post, we will be sharing our best tips for how to enjoy the holidays without food restrictions this year. Get ready for the best holiday season yet! 

Food Freedom Tip #1: Eat When You Are Hungry 

With any holiday or large group meal, food is abundant. Studies show that the more people that are at the dinner table, the more calories and food in general that we consume. This isn’t a reason to exclude family members from your holiday meals, but it is a point to remember. Your appetite and the amount of food you eat, shouldn’t be affected by the volume of food others around you are eating. In other words, just because your cousin is going back for thirds, doesn’t mean you have to. This holiday season, focus on your personal hunger and appetite. Eat only when you are hungry. If you’re not hungry in the morning for breakfast because you are still full from the night before, it is okay to wait to eat lunch or eat a light snack as your meal if you don’t feel your hunger cues prompting you to eat something. Grazing, snacking and eating slower are all helpful tips to avoid overeating around the holidays and allows you to eat a little bit of everything without experiencing food guilt. 

Food Freedom Tip #2: Intuitive Eating

Intuitive eating is the practice of eating when you are hungry, stopping when you are full and listening to what your body wants to eat. You might be in the habit of forcing yourself to eat large salads with a side of protein for most of your meals, but if at your holiday dinner, you feel your body craving roasted vegetables with extra gravy, that is okay too. If you continue to push off your cravings and restrict your intake of the foods you are craving the most, you are more likely to overeat in the long run. It is common for those who struggle to maintain a healthy relationship with food to eat in secrecy after the meal because they are still hungry or because their craving continues to persist. If that is the case, they typically consume far more than they originally planned to when indulging in private, compared to what they would’ve eaten at the dinner table. Intuitive eating is the practice of sharpening your skills of listening to what your body wants. To listen to the foods, movements, activities and adventures that you are internally wanting to consume and go on. This holiday season, try listening to your cravings. If a part of you wants to consume a sliver of pecan pie, a bite of stuffing with cranberry sauce and some extra chocolate, allow your craving to be satisfied. We promise that by giving yourself permission to eat, reduces the FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) and will result in you eating less overall. You won’t feel left out, nor like you are missing out. For the first time in a while, you will be able to fully take in and enjoy every moment of the holidays and savour the time spent with your family, rather than meticulously counting calories or fearing that you will gain weight. 

Food Freedom Tip #3: Scarcity vs. Savoury 

This is a new tip that we recently developed and have fallen head over heels in love with it. The Scarcity versus Savoury tip poses the question, “Am I eating this because I never allow myself to eat this or am I savouring it?” Often times we consume two to three times the amount of food that we normally would at a holiday meal because it is only served once a year. That, or we finally give in to our cravings and allow ourselves to indulge, so we eat out of fear of never having it again. When in reality, after the second or third bite of the food, we no longer taste it. We are simply eating it because we took the serving and now feel obligated to clear our plate. It is not out of enjoyment, but rather to fill our stomachs. When we should be looking at food as a savoury item. When we consume foods that are a rarity in our diet, we should savour each bite, tasting the sweetness, saltiness, richness and full-bodied flavours. Instead of telling ourselves, “I am never going to eat this again” and therefore consuming copious amounts of it, we need to remind ourselves that this can, and will be available to us in the future. 

Food Freedom Tip #4: Temporary, Not Permanent

The last tip we have to share is, this is temporary, not permanent. Your anxiety might be a little high and you are worried about gaining weight, getting back to the gym and meal prepping, remember that this change in routine is not your new normal. If you can remind yourself that this way of eating, moving and those who surround you is simply temporary, you can put your mind at ease and focus your attention and energy on enjoying the limited amount of time you have to spend with your loved ones. 

The holidays are stressful enough, don’t make them any harder on yourself than they need to be. When you feel your anxiety levels rising and you start to refuse your cravings, remember these four tips. 

-By Lindsay Mustard. Lindsay is a Holistic Nutritionist, firefighter-in-training and recipe-wizard with a burning passion for health and fitness. In her nutrition practice, Lindsay works with clients to craft a unique plan that is tailored to their specific health goals using a natural, whole food and supplement approach.

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