Food Stress Mess

November 27, 2019

Nutrition

It's here... Thanksgiving! A time to gather with friends and family, walk/run a Turkey Trot, eat scrumptious food, watch some football, play some games, partake in old traditions and make new ones.

As a holiday almost solely revolving around food, in the past it's been a bittersweet day for me, as I know it has for many of you. A holiday where all the temptations present their ugly faces. Where the opportunity for overeating on sugary, calorie-dense foods is almost inevitable. A time where your loved ones may make you feel guilty for eating something or not eating something. A holiday that should be centered around special times with loved ones making memories, can actually turn into a time of stress and feelings of guilt. Well, no more my friend, no more. And here is why...

Food is so much more than counting macros and calories. It's so much more than fuel for your body and a means to an end. Food is so much more than something that makes us gain weight or lose weight or feeling guilty or resentful. Food is social, emotional, physical and spiritual nourishment. Food, especially around the holidays, is filled with rich tradition, lengthy family history, memories and love. As a fitness and wellness professional, Thanksgiving has been a holiday that I have learned to navigate in my own way for myself and my clients. My personal feelings and my approach to coach my clients have evolved tremendously over the years. But, here is where I am at now.

The stress that we carry with us to our holiday meals can make more than just our headspace a mess. It can make our emotions a mess, our relationships a mess and our guts a mess. If you freak about the fact that the soup has beans or the potatoes have cream or the pie has sugar, you could be putting undue stress on the person who generously made it for you to enjoy and undue stress on yourself. If you stay strict to your plan and you eat "perfect" to your standards, but the whole time you're stressing about if you made the "right" choices or not, you will in fact be in a "worse" space than if you ate that sugar-filled pie without regret. When we are stressed out we literally cannot properly digest. We can only digest in a "rest and digest" state, or parasympathetic state. When we are stressed, all of our energy goes to "survival mode" which doesn't entail digestion. You will not properly digest the great food you do eat.

Now, let's get something clear, I'm not telling you to eat 5 servings of mashed potatoes and 4 pieces of pie. I'm suggesting that making conscious decisions that you're going to be okay with and that will make you feel good is the a healthy way to approach the holiday meals (or any meal in that case). Without doing this, stress can come after eating. If you're not conscious of the food decisions your making and all of a sudden you have to go put on your elastic waist pants in order to breathe, you won't feel good physically or emotionally.

So, all of this to say, that this year as your dining tables are filled with colorful goodness, created with love from those who mean the most to you, I encourage you to approach your plate with guiltless feelings of gratitude, compassion and confidence. Gratitude for the time and presence of the wonderful people around you. Compassion for the people who created this food for you to enjoy and the animals, plants, ranchers and farmers that sacrificed to give you nourishment. And finally, go into the meal with confidence that you can eat the food you choose to eat without feelings of guilt, regret or anger. That the choices you're going to make are going to feed your body, mind and soul. That Thanksgiving is one day of the year and if you "slip up" or not on your clean eating plan, the world will still go round.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

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