HOLIDAY TIPS | Inclusion vs. Exclusion

The holidays are so special! For many of us, it's our yearly opportunity to be surrounded by family and friends... oh, and FOOD!

The majority of us go into the holidays with two mindsets about food: "Screw it, it's the holidays." Or, with food anxiety, uncertainty about their ability to control their consumption, or fear of ruining their progress.

Here's what I don't like about both of those mindsets, they are both diet-culture ways of thinking. One says, I will just eat whatever I want for now and pay for it in January, and the other has you paralyzed around food throughout the holidays. They are both the result of thinking you need to eat less, avoid certain foods, restrict yourself, and have guilt or negative thoughts and feelings about the food you will eat or already ate. That my friends, is a diet mindset.

Going into the holidays, I really urge you to cultivate a mindset of inclusion, rather than exclusion.

Restriction, avoidance, and even fasting with poor intentions are all means of exclusion, and lead to negative thoughts or feelings surrounding food and yourself.

I believe we should go into this season, and every season, with the mindset of inclusion. Focusing less on what "I cannot have," "I should not have," "is bad for me," and focusing more on the opposite. What is good for me? What will make me healthier? What will make me feel better? What will my body appreciate? These are thoughts of inclusion.

I know what my plate should not be full of, but if I focus on avoiding or excluding those things, all I'm really thinking about still, are those things! Therefore I will feel like I'm missing out, depriving myself, and other negative thoughts will follow.

If I instead think about the things that I know I do need, like my proteins, veggies, and other whole foods, I will most likely put those on my plate, eat those, and have less room for all of the other stuff.

This year, let's consider what we need to include, versus exclude. Food is good, and we need it to nourish and fuel our bodies! Our thoughts surrounding food don't need to be overwhelming or negative. If they are, maybe you're stuck in a diet-culture way of thinking. Focus on what your body does need, and try to fill your plate with God-made food (think natural) rather than man-made food (think processed).

When you ensure that you're getting all the food you do need, there will be far less room, hunger, cravings for the food you don't need. That doesn't mean you can't enjoy a treat here and there, but it means those treats and splurges won't consume your thoughts for days before and after.

Practical Holiday Tips:

1. AVOID DIET-TALK! Don't be the one to bring it up (weight, image, calories, any of it), and don't encourage it when others bring it up. If someone asks why you only ate half of your piece of pie, it does not have to be for a negative reason, it can simply be because you really, really enjoyed all of your other food and you sense that you are full. If someone begs you to try their super dense casserole, you can put a little on your plate without having to start a conversation about how you know you shouldn't start with that before you have other more nutritious foods. Really, it's up to you how you handle it, I just encourage you not to turn the holidays into negative self-talk, which diet-talk inevitably is!

2. Drink at least half of your body weight in ounces of water per day. If that's easy, shoot for your full body weight in ounces.

3. Eat protein and veggies in every holiday meal.

4. If you can, eat with others around. Sit at a table, enjoy each others presence, put your fork down for a bit and talk!

5. If you do have treats, start with one. Don't fill your plate with all the treats at once. And, don't feel like you have to finish it! It's likely that if you ate all the things your body does need, you may fill up before you finish that treat.

6. If you have a serious goal and need to stay on track, don't feel like you need to whip out MyFitnessPal at a holiday dinner and ask your mom and aunt and grandmother exactly what recipe they used. Consider using the simple guide below from Precision Nutrition to help you with serving sizes and macros.