For many Americans, the holiday dinner table is covered in comforting, delicious, favorite foods. This can be a challenge for anyone trying to keep their eyes on the prize of good health. It can be particularly challenging for those of us who are trying to manage a health condition that can be directly impacted by our food choices. High blood pressure being at the top of the list!
Although you might not expect this, this Circulatory is not meant to say “don't eat that." Instead it's meant to suggest that you be deliberate in your food choices.
I don’t want to belabor the point that we’ve all heard before, but it does bear mentioning that one of the reasons so many of us are not successful on our diets is because so many of them are not livable in the long term. When we don’t find ways to incorporate some of our favorite foods in reasonable amounts, at appropriate times, we end up feeling deprived. So when we “slip up” and have some of those foods we love, we often think that “tomorrow I will get back on track and really be strict with myself“ (while unconsciously believing that that means we’ll be ‘depriving’ ourselves), and so we consume huge amounts of everything we love because of the impending “deprivation”.
This is a cycle that repeats itself over and over, making it so difficult to make progress in reaching the goals we’ve set out to achieve for our good health. We need to regain our trust in ourselves. We need to know that we can allow ourselves to eat things we love by incorporating these foods into our way of eating in reasonable amounts, and at reasonable time intervals. Reasonable time intervals can mean weekly, yearly or something in between.
Some of you might recall my experience of being at a community BBQ, enjoying a hot dog and being approached by numerous people looking at me with disbelief in their eyes and asking “you’re eating a hot dog?” My reply: Yes. I’m human.
So, how am I suggesting you handle the holiday season and all of those delicious foods? I’m suggesting that rather than being “unthinking” in your food choices, or thinking you’re being “short-sighted” and beating yourself up about it, that you be kind to yourself in your food choices. Both physically and emotionally. You want to enjoy the foods you love AND not make yourself feel sick! A good way to do this is to be “deliberate” in your food choices.
My thoughts on the best way to do this:
1. Survey the dinner table.
2. Take a couple of minutes and think about which foods are really calling your name. (it may be 3 foods and it may be 10 foods).
3. Allow yourself 1 dollop of everything you like. Make it fit on 1 plate.
4. Same strategy at desert time.
Try to take a moment to savor the first bite or two of each of your food choices (we generally stop experiencing the taste the same way after the first bite or two!). Feel good. One day of this won’t have a negative, long term impact. It’s only when we stuff it all in and then try to “repent” that we create an unhealthy cycle that can affect our weight, our blood pressure, our health. Be kind to yourself. In a deliberate way.
P.S. While knowing that holidays can sometimes be stressful, it would be remiss of me to not mention the obvious, that it is easier to be deliberate in our food choices when we’re not intoxicated :)
In terms of the days after the holidays, eat normally! Don’t “repent”. Eat healthfully. You need to make healthy choices as a way of life which includes allowing yourself deliberate and managed amounts of the foods you love at healthy and workable intervals.
It’s the holidays. Enjoy the experience. You deserve it.
Happy Holidays and here’s to your health!