This has been a year like no other. Holidays may exacerbate feelings of loneliness and isolation when you think about the family gatherings and holiday parties that will not take place. However, there are several considerations that can help you be merry this holiday season.
Take time to enjoy family and friends - More often than not food takes center stage. When is the last time you talked with your aunt about her home improvements or your cousin who just started college? You can take bites between conversation!
Listen to hunger and full cues - During the holidays it is unbelievably easy to eat without boundaries and consideration of unintended consequences. How many of us have eaten all the favorites and been uncomfortably stuffed? To avoid this, it is ok to have small meals or snacks leading up to the holiday festivities to avoid overeating. When you have had enough, and if it’s ok with the host, pack a to-go plate for later or wrap up what is left on your plate.
Indulge in moderation - A few times a year you get to enjoy that favorite dish. You should savor every single bite! However, the key is not going overboard. For instance, if you already know your absolute favorite dish will be on the table, serve yourself that item first. Then, plan the rest of your plate around that item. For instance, if you love potato salad, go for the potato salad first and then try the other selections. If you know you love dessert, make sure you have enough room to enjoy it without being too full from dinner.
Emotional eating - 2020 has been a very challenging year. Since most people have been at home, quarantine weight gain has become a thing. Canceled plans, reunions, and holiday parties have taken a toll on emotional and mental health. To cope, some may have turned to food to cope with life. However, there are more constructive ways to handle anxiety, fear, and uncertainty than eating. Even though you may be physically alone this year, you can still spend time calling or video chatting those closest to you. You may also want to spend this time volunteering to serve others or participating in online classes or trainings.
Environment - In this time of great upheaval, you may have to eat alone during the holidays. However, you can relish time with family and friends via video chatting or a phone call. Still set the table and set time to sit down, eat, and delight in the food. Even make a special playlist of all of your favorite holiday jingles or inspirational music. There’s no reason to rush since you are dining solo or part of a small gathering. Also, depending on the weather, this may be a time to start a new tradition. Instead of traditionally sitting inside, this may be an opportunity to take yourself on a holiday picnic outside.
Even though this may not be the ideal way to celebrate, take the lemons to make pie, bars, and cake. During the holiday season, be reminded how fortunate you are to have survived the year and look for ways to improve your nutrition and health status. With a little motivation and creativity, this can be one of the best holiday seasons to date.