This time of year, it can be easy to succumb to the stress of how to stay healthy at such an indulgent time of year. How can one possibly stay on track with personal nutrition when there are parties to attend and treats to share and Hallmark movies to watch while being a couch potato?
The holiday season is not a time of year to focus on eating rice cakes, but I believe we can enjoy all things in moderation, rather than worrying over every calorie. During the holiday season, my strategy is something known as “mindful indulgence”. I don’t deprive myself of treats or even richer meals that might be less healthy.
The connection between stress and eating is a strong one. Did you know that two thirds of people who restrict their food consumption have higher stress levels than those who don’t? Cortisol levels increase when we are stressed, which, ironically, can lead to weight gain as higher cortisol slows our metabolism.
Being mindful of how much I indulge means I focus on not missing out on things I love. I often share treats with friends or family, and at a meal full of great tastes I aim to try all my favourites instead of overloading my plate.
I also try to remember another useful dietary statistic: it takes my stomach 20 minutes to register being full, so I pause while eating to let it catch up. (You can browse my previous columns for plenty of holiday trivia to use for chatting at the table.)
I live to eat, being a self-admitted gourmand, and so enjoying good food is something that I put as a priority because it makes me feel good mentally and physically. I also stay active to keep my metabolism up.
When I enjoy the indulgences without feeling guilty, then I can take in all the elements of these wondrous get-togethers and make happy memories.
Part of why I love to eat is because I love the interaction of preparing the food and spending time with other people. Eating is something we all share as a common activity and so it binds us together, even if we come from different backgrounds or cultures.
Sometimes good food is a salad from the garden and sometimes it is cake and ice cream. I love both equally on the right occasion. We all need to know what works for our body, and for our soul. If we listen to them, they will tell us what is best to make them function at their best.
Breaking bread with someone can be a learning experience, it can be an intimate experience, it can be a humbling experience. All of those are experiences worth having.
Food, like life, is meant to be appreciated and enjoyed. Can we each pledge to make our holiday meals joyous ones? Let’s set aside any differences before we get to the table.
I sincerely hope that everyone has a very Merry Christmas – at Rabbit Hollow, we shall be toasting to your good health for the New Year!
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.