The holidays are right outside our doorstep, and will catch many of us in the middle of weight loss or holding on to desired weight for dear life.
Whichever group you belong to, or even if you couldn't care less about diet, you're probably still wondering how to handle the holidays.
Speaking of the holidays, food is a necessary subject. Not chia seeds, not even broccoli, but „real“ food, the one you actually enjoy. A bit over the top, but you know what I mean.
People are programmed to seek pleasure (and avoid pain). So, enjoying food is a normal human trait which is not to be dismissed. Yes, we are surrounded by tasty food nowadays, and there is a serios risk that our hedonism will turn into both visual and health issue. And yes, one must find a solution to this problem. Most often this solution comes from some form of restriction.
But there are these days of the year…
Food is a tool for optimal health, but it is also a source of enjoyment. Enjoying is another tool for optimal health. Psychological satisfaction can have a significant positive effect on health.
But let's step away from the holiday topic for a second.
Learn from the French and their paradox
Unlike the Americans, who associate food primarily with health, the French associate it with pleasure.
I'm not sure where the Croats fall on the health-hedonism spectrum, but the fact that the French enjoy their food could be one of the possible explanations of the French paradox. For those who haven't heard about it, the French paradox represents the fact that their diet is higher than average in saturated fats, one of the main risk factors for cardiovascular diseases, yet, the French do not seem to develop cardiovascular diseases on a level that one would expect.
Be present in the moment
In France, meals have greater importance than in America. Time is set aside, one eats slowly, often surrounded by other people; the French are more „in the moment“. This makes them more aware of what they're consuming, consequently more satisfied as well as feeling fuller. You can't experience satisfaction if you're not aware of its existence. So, if you see eating as a secondary habit alongside watching television or reading, you are missing out on a potential satisfaction.
Just so we're clear, I'm far away from eating consciously. I'm in a hurry more often than I should be, and my laboratory timer is known to cut my lunch short. (Among other things, I work in a lab, where timing is more important than food and water, just slightly below breathing). But I do my best. And when I succeed, I'm more content, relaxed, and I feel full.
Finally… Holiday recommendations
Don't try to lose weight during the holidays. Unless you know (not think, but know) that you have a will of steel because you've been in this same situation before. Failing is more than probable, and it will be followed by guilt and negative effect on your self-confidence. It will also reduce the possibility of success in your next diet.
Don't blame yourself if the scale shows a kilo or two more after the holidays. It is mostly accumulated glycogen and water that is attached to it. And for the lesser part… Well, everything has its own price, and sometimes it's okay to pay that price.
Enjoy the holiday table, maybe even go moderately over the top, but make sure those days are really special. Don't let two days turn into two weeks. Don't let two kilos turn into five.
I won't tell you what to eat, let alone how much. I won't tell you that certain types of alcohol are better than the others. I will tell you to forget about nutritive values of food on Christmas and New Year and focus on the pleasure it gives you. And don't forget to share that holiday experience with family and friends.