As the holidays quickly approach, so do the anticipated edible goodies that come with them. Candied yams, turkey, pies and green bean casserole all make up a fine assortment of delicious, yet high calorie, high sugar and high fat foods.
While the holidays provide the perfect environment for indulging oneself, there's always room for a healthy dose of self-control.
For years, the concept of portion control existed mostly as an annoying little thing my impossibly skinny mom would bring up if I went up to get another plate or doubled down on a piece of pecan pie at Thanksgiving.
Now, as an adult, I understand what she meant by the dreaded two word phrase that was associated with guilt as a child.
The first and most important thing to remember, especially as the holidays near, is that portion control should not be synonymous with depriving yourself of something you love. It should just mean moderation and listening to your body.
As a notoriously fast eater and a recovering binger, I can be the first to admit the entire concept of self-discipline when it comes to food is frustrating and at times difficult.
With everything from photoshopped models on magazine covers to Barbie, it’s no secret our society has a bad habit of subliminally shoving an unrealistic beauty standard down our throats in a low-calorie, low-fat and low self-esteem package.
With this in mind, it makes sense that according to Intermountain Healthcare nearly 50 percent of Americans have developed a “disordered” relationship with exercise, their bodies or food.
In and of itself, a negative relationship with food can lead to a number of unhealthy tendencies that can create many problems in a person's mental, emotional and physical health.
Therefore, when it comes to portion control, the healthiest thing to incorporate in one's general eating patterns is intuitive eating, which is essentially the idea of listening to your body.
For example, say you arrive at a holiday party or Thanksgiving and you are hungry and want to eat and enjoy the sweet and admittedly high-calorie food. All you do is remind yourself that it is OK to eat whatever it is you want and then do so. Don’t binge, don’t go crazy, just acknowledge what your body is telling you it wants, and allow it to indulge in a guilt-free environment.
While this sounds like common sense, in a society that is constantly bombarded with impossible beauty standards as well as an array of restrictive and guilt-ridden diets, it is very easy to develop a bad relationship with food.
The idea of intuitive eating allows a person to indulge and enjoy the experience of food without overeating or restricting them to a bland prison of “I really shouldn't.”
For instance, if you arrive at a holiday party and immediately smell the tantalizing greasy food, skip the shame spiral, acknowledge your body is hungry and allow yourself to enjoy. Don’t eat 20 pigs in blankets or a whole pie, but eat what you want without going crazy.
Intuitive eating also has a lot to do with the mental and emotional implications of food. While food is, at its source, fuel for the body, it is also one of the most sacred things we can share with another human.
The entire idea of intuitive eating requires a person to stop, think and listen to their body. “Am I bored and that's why I am hungry?” “Am I emotionally eating?” Or “am I actually hungry?” If so, dig in and enjoy.
Trust me from personal experience: there is no reason to subject oneself to even a moment of self-loathing all because you eat an extra piece of pie. Humans were meant to enjoy ourselves, and food is a natural joy of life.
So, as the holidays cyclically roll around again, don’t sweat the winter weight or the candied yams. Enjoy the laughter, the memories and the dessert bars without the self-loathing.