The soothing, warming aroma of turkey, gravy, sweet potatoes and apple pie are irresistible to just about any American. It is quite extraordinary how quickly all of that delicious food is consumed. Even more extraordinary when one considers that it is usually followed by at least one evening, if not days, of discomfort. And this discomfort seems to be forgotten by the time December rolls around. Differing religions, households, and customs create a great variety in how this season is celebrated but food is universally involved.
What does this translate to in terms of our health? One would normally assume that the answer to that question depends on the amount of sheer willpower a person possesses. If you are like I used to be, you can pretty much rely on over-indulgence and feeling simply awful afterward. For me that was the case for several reasons.
- I didn’t know what it meant to feel truly healthy so experiencing discomfort after a meal was not so unusual.
- I was not aware of how much food affected how I felt (duh!) so I had no compelling reason to control myself.
- I was not satisfying my nutritional needs at any given meal so gluttony was a common occurrence.
- At social gatherings I just wanted to “enjoy” myself and was not interested in limitations or restrictions.
If you find yourself overeating during the holidays you may be prey to one or more of the factors I’ve listed above. But be encouraged! All of them can be overcome.
It may be shocking to hear that there is a state of being where, not only do you not overindulge, but that you have no interest in doing so.
I will look at each of these issues in order.
1. “I didn’t know what it meant to feel truly healthy so experiencing discomfort after a meal was not so unusual or especially noticed.”
It may be a little late, in November, to elevate your health high enough to lose interest in overindulging. But you can begin to improve your health right now, which will increase your chances of eating better at the holidays. And also, if you do veer off track it will be easier to get back on the right path if you’ve started some healthy habits beforehand.
Some basic improvements you can start making now:
-Reduce or eliminate intake of processed foods
-Replace refined grains with whole grains
-Replace refined sugars with raw honey or maple syrup
2. I was not aware of how much food can affect how I felt (duh!) so I had no compelling reason to control myself.
The best way to cure this illness is to eat really well for awhile. When you see how undeniably powerful eating the right food for you can be, no convincing will be necessary.
The biggest mistake people make when they are “trying to eat healthy” is that they completely ignore messages from the body while doing so.
This results in many people not seeing warning signs that what they are doing may not be so healthy. Or they feel better but disregard this important fact and easily fall into old bad habits.
Practicing the fine are of observing your body is more important than any other single change a person can make. We all have unique needs. And, there is no “one” right diet for everyone. What is great for me may be a disaster for the next person. Observing your body is the key to identifying what is working for you and what is not. A simple food diary is a good place to start with this. Record what you eat and how you feel after you eat.
3. I was not satisfying my nutritional needs at any given meal so gluttony was a common occurrence.
When you are eating a nutrient-dense diet that is right for you, you will be satisfying your nutritional needs. This will lead to the great habit of stopping eating when you are satisfied (I said satisfied, not stuffed).
Even at the holidays this will work. Yes, sitting around with friends and family lends itself to eating more than usual, but you will already be in the habit of eating just the right amount so your chances of stopping are much higher.
4. At social gatherings I just wanted to “enjoy” myself and was not interested in limitations or restrictions.
The beauty of eating really well is that you feel great pretty much all the time. You really lose the need for artificial stimulation. If you get it right you should feel an unprecedented feeling of calm contentment.
Your ability to live in the moment, be patient and enjoy the little things in life will be greatly enhanced.
This lends itself well to enjoying every day, not just the holidays. The common habit of equating “being bad” with enjoying yourself may completely dissipate. Because in fact, the better you eat, the better you feel. And the better you feel, the more you will enjoy yourself. It seems pretty simple but most of us have developed a rather convoluted idea of having fun.
More information on Eating in Harmony With Your Metabolism.
More information on a Nutrient-Dense Diet.