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As we enter this fall season many of us are in a bit of a grieving process because summer season and it’s accompanied long fun-filled days have been dwindling to an end. Early morning and evening noticeable cooler temperatures are a pleasant change that not only prompts us to pull out cozy sweaters and scarfs (my favorite winter apparel!) but also bring about a feeling of approaching holiday celebrations. Holiday festivities is something that most people look forward to with excitement but at the same time, there is always a sense of stress and tension that wraps all those experiences. The part that I am interested in looking at and exploring is our eating habits during Holiday times.
Around this time of the year, we start encountering a lot of coverage on eating tips during Holiday season. This article though will not attempt to review those classic advices of what to eat before going to a party, how to maneuver around tables full of tasty food, and eat this vs. that. We are all pretty familiar with those tricks that are supposed to rescue and prevent us from overindulging.
I would like to investigate this dilemma beyond nutrition and taste buds. It is a known fact that eating serves us many purposes: nourishment of body for survival, pleasant taste experiences, social experiences, etc. Why do we feel like we are captives of these experiences during Holiday season and that food has so much power over us?
It is a multitude of triggers and different for each individual and to what extent it affects each person: stress, tiredness, hunger, anxiousness, excitement, etc. But in my opinion and based on my personal and profession observation I am suggesting that a potential reason for overindulging is a sense of scarcity and not being more present in day to day moments.
Let me explain with just one example. The combination of ridiculously delicious freshly baked pumpkin pie served once a year and shared in a circle of beloved family and friends would definitely do the trick of making it easier for somebody to disregard physical or mental cues from their body. I can’t help but wonder how we would feel about pumpkin pie (or think of your other favorite Holiday dessert or dish) if we gave ourselves permission or accepted the fact that we don’t have to have a Holiday to prepare a certain dish? Yes, some foods are seasonal and therefore associated with certain Holiday times but in our day and age, you can pretty much get any food item (in our case canned pumpkin) any time of the year.
Will the pumpkin pie lose its special appeal during Holidays if you made it a few more times a year? No, I don’t think so because you still have other factors present that make that occasion special (family, friends) and the pie is still ridiculously delicious. Which takes me to the next point of being present in the moment. Don’t wait to spend time and share delicious food with family and friends until the Holiday Calendar tells you. Be spontaneous in making and eating foods that you enjoy be it peach ice-cream in winter, pumpkin pie in spring, baked ham in summer or chocolate eggs in fall. With that mind, you can still look forward to eating special foods around Holiday but you don’t have to feel like that is the only chance you get because you can easily prepare or buy these any time of the year if you really wanted to.
Give yourself permission to celebrate any day!
Anna is a registered dietitian nutritionist for University of Utah Dialysis Program and a consultant/founder of private practice at Mind Your Nutrition. Her passion is providing simple, practical, delicious and nutritious solutions to improve and maintain health. She isan avid gardener, passionate cook, mother of two and a life enthusiast.