by Kris Parfitt
- The Capitol Hill Times -
While I really enjoy Christmas, the barrage of office treats and parties is too much. I’m a 6-foot single male who hasn’t missed many meals, if you catch my drift. I work with a lot of people who love to bake and eat during this time of year. Because I’m a big man and I’m single, I’m expected to attend their parties and enjoy these “baked gifts,” which I do, much to the demise of my health and waistline. The quote, “I can resist anything but temptation,” feels especially true for me between Halloween and New Year’s. Any words of advice for navigating the sugar season? – Big Belly Bob
I have a lot advice to share but the first would be a quote from Nancy Reagan, and that is to “just say no.” Don’t get me wrong, I’m not promoting rudeness and isolation, I’m suggesting that you draw a few parameters for yourself over the next four weeks.
It sounds like you don’t want to repeat behaviors from holidays past and that you aren’t impressed with your ability to resist seasonal treats. But it also sounds like you are too polite and are concerned about thwarting anyone’s expectations of a big single lad.
It’s true in our society that we have an expectation that bigger men will (happily) eat more food – healthy or otherwise. However, that isn’t permission for you to go along with that expectation this year. Consider saying something such as “Thank you for the thought.” You could then re-gift the treat, compost it, or pass it along to a shelter that helps people who don’t often enjoy home-baked sweets. You could also share with the giver that you are committed to a healthier sugar season and invite them to navigate it with you. The two of you could brainstorm more strategies and invite others to join your mission.
Committing to a future outcome is one of the best strategies for people concerned about weight or over-indulging. How would it feel if on January 1, 2014 you were the same weight, or less, than you are now? If that sounds like a great goal for the first morning of the New Year then your strategies could possibly include mindful eating, nourishment and movement.
Mindful eating is as simple as being aware and present to what foods you eat and how you eat them. There are many ways to practice mindful eating over the holidays. A few strategies include eating a salad, drinking warm lemon water or a small protein shake before a cocktail or dinner party. These foods will fill you enough so that you arrive satiated and can enjoy tasting holiday foods rather than gorging out of starvation.
Grabbing a smaller plate, being the last one to eat, or pacing yourself with the slower eaters are other mindful eating strategies. Chewing your food well and, conversely, starting an engaging conversation while eating will slow you down too.
Nourishment gained from eating well is a great strategy and pairing it with the nourishment gained from showing gratitude, volunteering and being with friends and family is an even better strategy. Consider donating the time you would otherwise spend at a bar volunteering at your local food bank. Invite your bar buddies and your co-workers to join you. Start a holiday health-focused group at work and come up with ideas for healthier holiday foods to be brought or shared at the office. Request a non-edible gift giving guideline and instead request experiences or non-food-based social gatherings.
While we all know that exercise is a great strategy for overall health, studies show that any kind of movement lifts our spirits and burns calories. Walk at any opportunity. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Go skating or dancing, play in the snow, dodge raindrops or go puddle jumping with a buddy. Take advantage of the movement classes in your neighborhood, and learn yoga, Pilates or another type of mindful movement. Go caroling. Or better yet, kiss someone under the mistletoe.
Creating a goal with strategies is your best defense to temptation. And if you do give in, then acknowledge it and re-commit to your goal. Beating yourself up is the fastest path towards emotional eating and giving in to more temptation. But loving yourself, and sharing your “fail” with your accountability tribe is a great inspiration and makes launching again easier.
Give into temptation, add the weight, the shame and the deterioration of self-worth and start the New Year worse off than you feel (and weigh) now, or be mindful, satiate yourself with non-food based nourishment and move around so that you give yourself the gift of starting the New Year with confidence and energy. Ultimately, Bob, it’s your choice.