I don’t want to let food turn the holidays into an emotional battlefield, so let’s huddle up and have a pep talk. I love food, and the holidays are ALL about food. That said, I totally don’t love diarrhea, which is what can happen when I eat four-meals-worth of food at a friend’s holiday potluck.
With avoiding those mornings of seasonal indigestion in mind, here are eight ideas for staying a bit more intentional and conscious about food during the holidays. Together, I’m confident we can all go into the season with peace of mind and come out the other side having focused on what we really wanted to enjoy: fun parties, family, and food. This isn’t about weight or body image — it’s about not leaving a party feeling sick to your stomach.
Take a moment for psychological clarity before you leave for the party — Think over what you’d like to eat in the evening. What’s in? What’s out? You don’t have to know what food will be served; just take a moment to focus on what you’re hungry for. It’s hard to keep a goal when you don’t know what the goal is! This tactic will also help you prioritize; “I’d really like to try the tacos, and I don’t care if I miss out on the snickerdoodles, so that’s what I’ll skip.”
Enjoy your food — Make noises. Say MMMMM and YUM and smoosh it around in your mouth. Stop talking for a moment. Think about all the flavors of your mashed potatoes — whether they came from a box or from your grandma’s house. Slow down. Savor it. Chew carefully. Swallow thoughtfully. Don’t just jam it in there.
Commit to honesty — If it’s very important you stop eating at a certain point, follow this test: are you hungry enough to eat an apple? No? Then you’re not hungry. This test has served me well. BUT KEEP IT HAPPY, PEOPLE. This test works for me because I freaking love apples. I am like a freakish consumer of fruits and vegetables. But you can replace “apple” with any food you enjoy that is probably a better choice for you than a fourth helping of pumpkin pie.
Get your nourishment at home, so that you can enjoy richer food for what it is — Take the edge off your hunger and keep your stomach from choosing your food for you. When you arrive at a potluck in a state of un-starving, it’s easier to be thoughtful and measured in your nomming.
Use a small plate — It really does work to limit what you take. If you’re at a sit-down dinner, you’ll naturally pace yourself along with the rest of the party — but your small plate will be serving you well.
Don’t hang out near the food — Ultimately, holiday parties are about your friends and family. Step away from the buffet for a few minutes, grab a beverage, and do some mingling and catching up! And speaking of beverages…
Keep a big glass filled — with whatever. Water is probably the best bet, but I won’t judge you for filling a pimp cup with rum. Skip the carbonated bevvies — they just add to the too-full feeling.
If it’s a potluck, make it your mission to bring a grazeable dish — It doesn’t mean you should plan to show up with a bowl of cut celery, but if there’s something tasty and not bloaty-making, bring it. Though I DO love celery, so that could easily be my party food.
So, these are my tactics for feel-good nomming all winter long. I’d love to hear how you plan to keep your relationship with food positive in this season of gastric indulgence.