Listen, we’ve all been there.
One glass of wine that turns into a bottle…
A bite of a donut that turned into a half dozen…
Tacos at 2 a.m.? Sure, why not. Sounds like a stellar idea.
Bloody Marys the next morning just to imbibe a little hair of the dog? OBVIOUSLY.
Overindulgence always seems like a good idea at the time, but it inevitably comes with a side of guilt and remorse—not to mention the accompanying physical discomforts.
With the holiday season in full swing, it’s likely that you’ve been feeling the unnecessary but very real stress that often comes with nutrition. Maybe you’ve overindulged and you’re feeling guilty. Maybe you’ve been doing the opposite by restricting your diet, and you’re feeling your willpower start to wane.
In the past, I would treat social gatherings as an excuse to have an all out binge sesh, waking up the next day bloated, ashamed, and with a killer food hangover. I’d then spend the next few days restricting my diet and punishing myself with exercise just to get the bloating down.
I feel you.
And I also know how frustrating it can be to feel like you aren’t in control of your cravings or how much you indulge.
I know what it feels like to finally get on track with your nutrition, and then feel like a failure when it all goes to pieces in the blink of an eye. I work with clients regularly who are looking for moderation and balance—who want to put an end to the yo-yo cycle of binge, berate, restrict, repeat.
But we still want to have our favorite things, don’t we?
We want to sip and taste and never feel deprived, because let’s be honest—deprivation is the pits.
It almost always leads to backsliding and rebounding, because willpower is finite, and we can only restrict ourselves for so long.
We want to indulge without the unfortunate guilt that often comes along with it, because if food is meant to be pleasurable, why should we feel so badly about it?
I want you to eat whatever you want and never again feel shameful. Shame over food (or really anything for that matter) is a wholly unproductive emotion, and truthfully, there is a better way.
We can learn how to eat for our palate and our physique, living a life of nutritional freedom, and never again uttering the phrase “I can’t eat that.” We can put an end to dieting, forever, by realizing that it isn’t a trendy diet or brand new nutrition plan that’s going to completely transform us—it’s our mindset.
Mindset can seem like a nebulous or intangible term but it’s pretty simple, actually: Your mindset is your perspective, the way you view your environment, and how you choose to perceive your world.
It’s your mindset that guides how you think about food and fitness, and your mindset that ultimately determines lasting success. To help cultivate a positive mindset, especially as it pertains to food and indulgence, I have a handful of very effective strategies that I’ve used to develop sustainable habits for a fit, healthy life.
Today I want to share two of the most powerful ones with you. These two simple strategies, when practiced regularly, will help you put a stop to over indulging and food anxiety once and for all.
1. Eat foods that make you feel good during and after—this includes indulgences.
Healthy food that nourishes your body can (and should) be palatable, and food that doesn’t nourish your body can still be neutral—meaning that it won’t negatively affect your gut, joints, skin, and so on.
You want to be able to eat and never feel guilt or shame associated with your choices. In order to accomplish this, I suggest asking yourself a series of questions before consuming (or imbibing):
- Does this food support my intentions for my body? (If so, go for it!)
- If not, will I feel guilty about it later? (If not, go for it!)
- Will this food that doesn’t support my intentions add to my experience in some significant way? (If not, don’t eat it!)
You get the idea. The point is to check in with yourself and hit the pause button before you get yourself into a binge eating spiral. Using this strategy will allow you to indulge intelligently and make mindful decisions—as opposed to mindlessly consuming whatever is in front of you.
2. Use the first bite rule.
That first sip of Sauvignon Blanc on a sunny, Summer patio that makes you go aaahhh.
That first bite of a warm brownie sundae that makes you go mmmmm.
It’s such a pleasurable experience. It’s food and it’s love and it’s heaven. Food is meant to be enjoyed, but shouldn’t we enjoy every bite as much as the first? In order to do this, you have to stop and check in with yourself after every bite (or sip, in my case!).
Is it still amazing?
Am I still really tasting this, or just eating it because it’s there?
This requires mindfulness, which is the ultimate goal when it comes to nutritional freedom.
By stopping to make sure you’re still enjoying the experience, you’ll ensure that you never eat more than you truly want, and you’ll slowly start to realize that you don’t have to clean your plate, drink the entire bottle, or scarf down the whole slice of pie.
It’s the most natural and effective way that I’ve found to avoid overeating and post-consumption remorse.
Here’s to enjoying the holidays and saying an enthusiastic goodbye to guilty pleasures!