The holidays are fast approaching, and if there’s one thing I know about the holidays, it is that they are difficult waters to navigate in the food department.
First of all, there’s the fact that with the time change and darker evenings, it is really difficult to work up motivation to exercise
before or after the average 9-5 work hours. Not to mention the cold (or the Hurricane Sandy winds).
Then there are all the parties. With food. With holiday food – desserts, cheese-laden casseroles, spiked warm drinks – easy, rich foods to nab from an hors d’oeuvres or snack table….every time you walk by.
Plus, there’s football and tailgating, reunions with friends, and reunions with family – and all the ensuing rollercoasters of emotional stressors that those interactions inevitably bring.
The holidays are fast approaching, and I know myself and my tendency to just throw my hands and all my healthful eating patterns up in the air in a big “Who cares!/Resistance is futile!” bluster. I usually always do, and then I find myself all the way into Easter season realizing that summertime beach trips are just around the corner, and what the heck happened to my waistline and my health and my self image during the winter holiday months, anyway?!
Mindful eating is a choice, and it is a conscious choice. Mindful eating doesn’t mean being restrictive so as to deny myself treats and tastes of my favorite (and rich!) winter foods and drinks during holiday times. It doesn’t mean comparing myself to or subconsciously competing with my friends in a sort of “holier than thou” way with the things I choose to order or eat in a group setting. It doesn’t recognize “good” foods or “bad” foods - just food choices, to be mindfully considered and selected in healthful moderation.
To me, mindful eating takes work and is a lifestyle change. And now – with Halloween knocking at our door, at the beginning of the holiday season – now is the time to start practicing this change.
Here’s a graphic way to understand change. Picture a hill of damp sand with a marble on top. If you give the marble a nudge in one direction, it will roll down the hill, forming a slight groove in the sand. Each time the marble gets nudged in the same direction, it will slide into the groove and the groove will deepen until you only have to place the marble on top of the hill for it to plop right into the groove and plunge downward.
Now suppose you decide that you want the marble to roll down the other side of the sand hill. You’ll have to place the marble on top of the hill and push it in the other direction
because if you don’t, it will slip automatically into its old groove. If you push it only once or twice in the new direction, its inclination will still be to return to its old groove. So initially, you’ll need to push the marble in the new direction over and over until a new groove is carved out. Eventually when your old groove and the new groove are about even, the marble will have the potential to roll either way. To ensure that it will always go in the new direction, you’ll have to keep gently nudging it until the old groove fills up with sand and the new groove is deeply carved. Then the marble will naturally fall into the new groove every time (Koenig 28-29).
(Koenig, Karen. The Rules of Normal Eating: A Commonsense Approach for Dieters, Overeaters, Undereaters, Emotional Eaters, and Everyone in Between! Carlsbad, CA: Gurze Books, 2005. Print.)