3 Strategies To Handle Holiday Parties

Every holiday season, I start to think about how to handle the social events on my holiday calendar. It gets me thinking about what strategies I use to manage my eating during these “potentially” treacherous times.

There are 3 basic strategies.

First of all, you can “save up” calories by not eating all day, knowing there will be lots of goodies. This strategy is akin to using a point system, where you save points and use them whenever you want. So you can eat very little during the day and use them all in one sitting if you want.

I think this is a BIG mistake.

If I go to a holiday party starving, I am AT the appetizers almost before I get in the door. Then it just keeps going all night because there is more a feeling of needing to catch up. To me, starving yourself all day is a form of deprivation, which sets you up for binging at night. It is almost like a one-day mini-diet.

The second strategy is just the opposite. Do NOT starve yourself all day long, but instead, eat moderately so that you don’t go to the party totally starving. This is the strategy I recommend most of the time.

If you eat moderately during the day, you will not feel deprived when you get to the party. You will be more able to pick and choose. Even though there will be visual cues to eat, you will be more able to eat mindfully, enjoy the food and focus on tasting the foods that you really want.

Then you can still have what you want most, and are less likely to overeat. And I don’t mean just having a taste of something, although sometimes that is all that it takes to satisfy your hunger.

The secret is trying foods if you really want them, not necessarily finishing them, but really getting a taste so that you don’t feel deprived. I will often take a lot of different foods just because they look so good. But I only eat the ones that really taste good and that I truly want at the time. I try not to eat foods that I don’t really enjoy just because they are there.

If you eat mindfully and stay conscious, then eating more of the same thing doesn’t add any more to the experience – it only adds bulk.

The problem with most holiday foods is that they are laden with carbohydrates, which sets you up for craving more carbohydrates and continuing the cycle. So make sure you get adequate protein to help control your appetite and get back to eating normally the next day.

If you overeat, relax and learn.

Use this information to make your choices the next time you are in that situation. Don’t yell at yourself or use it as an excuse to binge. A few holiday parties can be handled quite nicely if you stay calm.

Remember that there will always be more chances to eat successfully and feel good about it. So don’t get too down on yourself if you happen to overeat at one event.
One of the most common questions I get goes like this –

“Once I get started eating something I like, I never want to stop until it’s too late and I have eaten too much and I feel horrible. It has NOTHING to do with hunger. How Do I STOP eating once I start?”

Being able to disengage from foods you love is certainly a learned skill. It takes awareness and practice. The problem, of course, is that your stomach doesn’t give you the signal to stop eating right away — especially with carbohydrates.

AND the food can look and taste so good, that you choose to ignore the signals even if you notice them. So it’s EASY to overeat.

Start by being really, really honest with yourself.

The truth is . . . even if you are very hungry, it doesn’t take a lot of food to satisfy physiological hunger. The goal is to get a perfect match between:
1. your hunger level
2. what you are hungry for and
3. what you actually eat.

Sometimes I feel disappointed when my hunger goes away so quickly. Darn! I was looking forward to eating more . . . but I have also learned to let go.

The ideal behavior is to stop eating when the hunger signals go away. To do this, you have to be tuned into your hunger/satiety signals. Many people have ignored them for so long, they don’t even think they have them anymore. And you have to be WILLING to stop eating at this point. So how do you do that?

The 10-Minute Solution

Here’s something to try . . . I call it the 10-Minute Solution.

1. Serve yourself a small portion on a small plate (tell yourself you can always have more) OR serve yourself a larger portion and be willing to toss it in the middle. Take a note from children. They only eat what tastes good, no matter what. girl-eating

2. Eat mindfully (remember, the goal is to taste every bite) and assess your hunger after every forkful.

3. When you no longer feel hungry, put down your fork, put the plate away and leave the table if you can.

4. Distract yourself – talk to a friend or relative, admire the decorations, go to the powder room, etc. and wait 10 minutes.

By then, you should be receiving more signals from your stomach that reflect your true fullness. Remember, you don’t have to feel full, just pleasantly satisfied. And remember, no food is leaving the planet . . .

Oh, I almost forgot – my third strategy? Skip the party! Some holiday parties have simply outlived their usefulness. You go every year and dread it. You have my permission (not that you need it) to do something kind for yourself and skip it this year.

Use the time to do something that is more relaxing or enjoyable to you.
Oh, and don’t forget to have fun . . .

Don’t Waste Your Willpower On Food

Brian Wansink (Mindless Eating) says that we make 200 food decisions every day.

Decision-making depletes our willpower.

So for many of us, we are using up the very resource that we need to make healthy choices and avoid defaulting to easy, less-than-healthy junk food.

Self-control / willpower is a good asset to strengthen, of course. But we need to conserve this asset to get through a stressful day.

What’s the answer?

My answer is to set up my life so that I don’t need willpower. With a little bit of time, effort and planning, you can do the same thing.

The first thing to do is create substitutes for your favorite foods, and be willing to make them yourself, so you can always have them on hand.

Of course, you can use tools, like tapping, to get through any tempting situation.

But if you are willing to take the time and effort, you can create healthy substitutes that are equally satisfying, such as 3-ingredient ice cream with chocolate drizzle.

3-ingredient-ice-cream

3-Ingredient Ice Cream With Chocolate Drizzle (Serves 2)

For the Ice Cream

3 Bananas (sliced and frozen)
2 tsp. Cocoa or cacao powder (unsweetened)
1 Tbsp. Peanut Butter (or other nut butter)

For The Chocolate Drizzle

1 Tbsp. Cocoa or cacao powder (unsweetened)
1 Tbsp. Coconut oil (melted)
1 Tbsp. Maple Syrup

1. Put the frozen banana slices into a food processor and process for 5-6 minutes until creamy and smooth. You will need to keep stopping and pushing the bananas down the sides.

2. Add the cocoa powder and peanut butter and process until smooth.

3. Mix the drizzle ingredients together and serve. Voila!

Whatever you do, don’t waste your limited supply of willpower on food. It’s unnecessary – if you take the time to make your own sweet and satisfying treats. In my book, cultivating willingness goes a lot further than depending on your limited supply of willpower.

Ice cream, anyone?

My 2-Ingredient Ice Cream

Watch this hilarious video with Brian Regan talking about Food Labels and portion sizes. It’s so true!

It got me thinking about how much I love ice cream!

Check this out!

ice-cream

2-Ingredient Raspberry Ice Cream

1 cup frozen raspberries
1/2 cup Greek yogurt (Plain)

Blend these 2 ingredients together in a small food processor and amazingly – you have ice cream!

How simple is that?

Enjoy!

5 Things To Tell Yourself Today About Stress Eating

It’s not what happens to us in life … because we all get beaten up by it sooner or later.

For most people, the stress isn’t going away.

Your self talk can make all the difference in how much stress you feel and how it affects you, both now and in the future.

What’s more important is how we choose to respond and what we tell ourselves about what happened.

1. I am putting the past behind me.

No matter what happened that led you to feel as you do today, you can put it behind you and start over. There are some things that you can’t do over, and some that just won’t turn out the way you wanted, no matter what. You can always learn from the past and move forward.

2. I am focusing on the one next positive step.

All it takes is one positive step forward, no matter how small. It might be to make one small shift in what you are eating or what you are thinking. It might be to let go of some notion that you have been attached to. Take that step today and don’t look back.

3. I am doing the best I can.

Most people don’t give themselves enough credit that they really are doing the best they can. We judge ourselves more harshly than anyone else, and we are the hardest to please. When you know better, you do better.

Remember that judgment sucks, no matter what side of it you are on.

4. It’s NOT that hard.

This is my new mantra when I hear myself saying “it’s too hard…” or “I can’t …” If you counteract these thoughts quickly, then it shifts your thinking and opens new possibilities. Try it!

5: “I will never give up!”

Don’t ever give up, no matter how frustrated or discouraged you may feel. Give yourself the gift of support if you need it (we all do.) It’s never too late to make a fresh start, right from where you are … with what you have to work with.

Affirmations To Reduce Stress – The I Am Free Video

I have often used affirmations to reduce stress. My latest one is pretty simple. When I catch myself thinking that I *can’t* do something, I say to myself “It’s not that hard.”

Somehow, that helps me to reset my thinking. Using audio and video can be very powerful when it comes to getting positive affirmations firmly planted in your head. I like this video, in a strange way. It just seems powerful with the music.

Share your favorite affirmations in the comment section!

Stress Triggers

Stress triggers can be just about anything – an emotion, an event … a disappointment. For example, lately I’ve been dealing with the worst website host ever, a company called Jumpline. This site is run on WordPress, and to create new articles, I have to go into the admin area every time I want to write a new post. I was having more and more difficulty logging in and maneuvering through the admin area.

It was taking several MINUTES to go from 1 page to the next. While I submitted multiple support tickets to Jumpline, they never fixed the problem.  Since I don’t know everything technical, I asked my tech guy to take a look. Here’s what he said – My server was never configured properly! “It’s taking about 3 minutes between pages refreshes on your blog right now and I get logged-out after every page request.” In other words, Jumpline sucks! And when they could not fix the problem, I moved my sites, and asked for a refund. Guess what? They wouldn’t give me one. What a surprise! It’s a good thing that I moved my sites because they then deleted my account, and they even made up a bogus customer support ticket that suggested I requested this deletion.

Wow! It’s a good thing I’m not a stress eater anymore because I would weigh 500 lb. with frustration like this! Moral of the story – be careful who you are dealing with. The reason they wouldn’t give me a refund is because I requested it after I had already paid for 6 months of hosting, and it was in their “terms of service” – you know, those fine print clauses that every company makes you sign, just for situations like this.  Grrrrr… Good companies will issue a refund for any reason, especially when their service wasn’t up to par. But bad hosting companies do what Jumpline did – at the risk of their own online reputation.

So what are your stress triggers? Go ahead, vent! It helps to have a voice. I feel better already!

“Food Calms Me Down”

It’s a famfood calms me downiliar refrain that I have heard often from my clients.

I used to think the same thing. That is . . . if I took time to think about it at all.

If what you need is to be calm, then there may not be faster ways to do it, but there are far better ways to do it, with fewer negative consequences.

What it takes to calm down is to get better at managing your moods. It takes SKILL, (not willpower) to break habits and to separate food from feelings.

Yes, you may have to break the habit of reaching for food automatically (more on that later), but it’s not willpower that you lack.

Instead, work on developing emotional management skills using real tools, such as:

1. Emotional Freedom Techniques – (EFT) Tapping is the first line of defense. Why? It does 1 thing really well – neutralizes negative emotions.

2. Learn to identify and feel your feelings instead of stuffing them with food. Yes, food is a quick fix and a convenient “mute” button for emotions, but there’s always a price to pay.

3. Learn to “think” differently about how you feel. You can’t necessarily “think” your way out of a negative emotional situation in the moment, but there are strategies you can use to help yourself calm down.

4. Set boundaries and increase assertiveness skills. You’ll feel less overwhelmed and more in control when there are fewer demands.

5. Hitting the “pause” button. When you find yourself reaching for food, hit the imaginary pause button, long enough to ask yourself a couple of questions. Am I hungry? Will this help? If you are intent on eating, then it may not stop you, but at least you start to face the truth.

Your turn – What helps you to manage your moods?

How To Stop Eating At Night

night eating disorderWhether you have night eating disorder, or night eating is just a bad habit, it’s a habit worth changing. We know that people tend to sabotage their diets at the same time every day.

If you are an emotional eater, then fears and other negative emotions tend to surface at night, so there’s more emotion to contend with. Night eating disorder further complicates the matter, because many people overeat on automatic pilot.

We can stay busy and ward off emotion during the day, but that’s not so easy at night, especially when you are more fatigued. If you think about the top 4 emotions that drive emotional eating (FLAB – frustration, loneliness, anger and boredom), these are more present at night. Continue reading