Guest Post:
Registered Dietitian Maude Perreault

It’s almost Holiday season!

Food everywhere… Desserts, treats, comfort food, drinks of all sorts… A lot of food. A lot of forbidden food?

Does the Holiday season rhyme with stress for you?
Do you worry about overeating?
Do you worry about getting off the health wagon?
Do you worry about giving in and eating the food you shouldn’t?
Do you worry about weight gain?
Do you worry about the guilt once the party is over?
Do you worry about worrying about food?

I hear you.
As a registered dietitian, I hear it from a lot of you.
Food and the act of eating is complex. It is nutrients and calories, but it is also a social act. A cultural act. An emotional act.
It is rooted in your childhood and the experience you’ve had growing up.
It is linked to your body image, self-love, and it is intertwined with what we have been told should be ”willingness” and “determination”.

The thing is: eating is a behaviour. Food choices are a behaviour.
But weight itself is not a behaviour. It is not something we control.
So if you are tempted (again) to limit your food intake in the hope of losing weight, let me challenge your perspective.
Weight is not a behaviour.
We can certainly act on our lifestyle factors that might (or not) affect our weight: enough sleep, nurturing our mental health, being active, eating wisely, fostering a fulfilling social circle, being mindful and present, slowing down…

Weight is not a behavior.
Eating and Moving is a behavior.
I suggest we focus on that!

5 strategies to enjoy eating during the Holiday

Some strategies to keep in your back pocket as invitations for social events start rolling in:

  • Don’t throw the towel and keep at your meal planning. Whatever you usually do (cutting veggies, buy some staples for snacks, cutting fruits or having cheese cubes ready) keep doing. In between parties and get-togethers, you can fall back on these habits.
  • If you feel it is appropriate (depending on your social event), ask what the menu is so you can manage your appetite, food preference and food intake! If you feel pressured to take a bite (or a full serving) of the homemade dessert but are full at the moment, ask to take it home with you! Then decide if you truly feel like eating it at that moment, later or never.
  • Go scout the buffet first before starting to put food on your plate. Isn’t it the best always at the end, when you have no room left on your plate?!
  • if you know that the default social activities will be to eat or to sit drink and talk, can you disrupt the tradition and suggest something different: a walk, a dance party, skating, board games.
  • Whatever you decide to eat, please please please fully enjoy. No guilt. No remorse. As we like to say…If you are going to put it in your mouth, make it count! Yes, even that decadent chocolate cake! One dessert, one meal won’t make or break your healthy diet. Just the same – one event, one week of festivities and even one month of Holiday won’t ruin your year of healthy habits.

Food is more than nutrients and calories.
It is a social, emotional, and cultural thing.
Good food, good people, good times… that is what I wish you associate the Holidays with.
If the food ruins your holidays, let’s chat and change that this year.