The average American gains X number of pounds between Halloween and Christmas. It takes just a few meals to gain weight but many months to lose it. Don’t eat the cheesecake! That’s way too many calories. For every “treat,” you need to do X number of push-ups and burpees and cardio and…. You’ll be paying for that pumpkin pie! Never have a second helping! Don’t forget about bikini season!
For so many of us messages like the above swirl around our minds like vultures circling prey well before we sit down to a holiday meal. We see these messages in magazines or on “health” websites. Maybe we hear them from “professionals,” from fitness instructors, from our coworkers or from our loved ones. And maybe we swallow these messages, perceiving them as gospel and adopting them as our own. Which means that we don’t eat what we’d like—or maybe we do, but then feel a horrible, heavy guilt, a 100-lb. weight on our chest. We bash ourselves. We call ourselves failures or gluttons, pathetic losers who lack “willpower.” We start seeing food as the enemy. We start hyper-focusing on what we put in our mouths, because when we hear that we must “work off” every calorie we consume, we get anxious, very anxious, and who the heck wants to do that?
Building a healthy relationship with food takes time, good resources and often support (by working with a therapist or coach). But you can start now. You can start with one bite. This weekend before filling your plate, close your eyes, and ask yourself: What do I truly want to taste?
Then choose those foods. Choose them based on what sounds yummy to you. Choose them based on your preferences and no one else’s. Forget the weight-loss and diet messages. Or at least tell them to wait a little while.
Then when you’re ready to eat your meal, close your eyes again (even just briefly). Take your first bite. Sloowwwlllyyyyy. Taste the temperature, texture and flavors of your food. Pretend that you’re a food critic who must report back on every spice and seasoning. Pretend that you’re a chef experimenting with various techniques. Pretend that you’re a writer including a passage about this meal in your next novel.
In other words, pay close attention to your bite. Savor it. Use your senses fully to fully taste it. Give yourself permission to enjoy what you’re eating.
Of course, this isn’t easy to do in today’s culture, a culture that glorifies dieting and weight loss, and judges individuals by what they do and do not eat. So to have a slice of cake and not feel guilty about it or to listen to your body and respond to a craving is almost revolutionary. And it might not come naturally.
But this holiday season, try to savor, anyway. At least one bite. Try to listen to your body—not to a magazine or some fitness guru or anyone else.
And, ultimately, try to listen to your heart—whether it’s food related or something else entirely.
I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas and/or Hanukkah. If you’re like us, you’ll be celebrating both holidays. 🙂 As always, thank you so much for reading! I started writing Weightless in 2009 (can you believe it?!). Throughout the years, it’s been an incredible outlet for me on many profound levels (like helping me to reconnect with myself on a regular basis, not a small gift by any means). I am grateful that you are here.