When it comes to the holidays, we tend to hyper-focus on restriction. We think about under-eating before we eat our Thanksgiving meal (and going on a diet right after). We think about the exercises we must do to work off all that food.
We worry. We obsess. We feel guilt and shame. We talk about calories, diets and weight around the dinner table—and before we eat and after we eat.
We think about different tips and tricks for eating less during the entire holiday season. We dread the parties and cookies and desserts.
But what if you changed your perspective? What if you focused on what you’d like to savor instead?
What if you focus on the various flavors, textures and spices in every bite? What if you focus on the memories you’d like to make, or on finding small moments to appreciate? What if you focus on what you’re sincerely thankful for?
What if you focus on exploration, curiosity and play, applying those to the holiday season? What if you look at the festivities with wonder, awe and magic? What if you sprinkle in some patience and self-compassion, too?
This might look like trying any food because it simply looks and smells amazing. Maybe that’s a dish you didn’t let yourself eat last year. Maybe it’s a new dish. Either way, again, it looks like getting curious about every bite, and slowly savoring.
It looks like not saying aloud or to yourself, “I’m being sooo bad for eating _______,” or “I’ve been really good for the last month, and now I’m going to ruin it.” Or it looks like those thoughts flying out, and you forgiving yourself for having them.
Rather, it might be saying, “I wonder what that spice is,” or “What flavors am I tasting right now?” or “I give myself unconditional permission to try any foods I’d like to, and to have seconds if I’d like that. I give myself unconditional permission to stop eating if I don’t like something or stop eating because I’m starting to feel full.”
This might look like getting curious about how your loved one’s fall has been going, and what’s new in their life. It might look like asking one of these fascinating 100 questions.
This might look like marveling at the stunning fall colors all around you (or the first snow!), and taking a walk with loved ones, or by yourself. It might look like breathing in the beautiful, refreshing air and thanking your legs for giving you the gift of walking. It might look like cuddling on the couch, and putting on a holiday movie (letting yourself relax, and watch it without checking your phone).
It might look like making a list of things you’d like to savor this holiday season (and using your five senses fully to experience them): having sweet conversations, decorating your home, shopping intentionally for your loved ones; putting on holiday music and lighting your favorite holiday-themed candles; attending a tree lighting in your town; baking cookies.
I know the holidays can be complicated for many, many different reasons. And it’s important to acknowledge and respect those reasons. But it also can help to shift our perspective, asking ourselves questions such as: How can I play? What am I thankful for here? Where’s the magic in this moment? How can I savor this meal, this moment, this conversation?
If you’re celebrating Thanksgiving today, I hope you have a wonderful holiday. And if you’re not, may you have a wonderful day.