April 23, 2014

Whole Body Beautiful: Holiday Mood vs. Food

 

Whole Body Beautiful: Holiday Mood vs. Food

All those admonitions your parents repeated at the dinner table — “Eat your veggies,” “Don’t talk with your mouth full,” “Slow down” — still apply, especially if you want a healthy holiday eating season.

Pumpkin pie, candy corn, stuffing, sugar, marshmallow yams, wines, cheeses and chocolate.

Food during the holiday season is a joyful experience for some, but for others it is a struggle. It is a time when people let their hair down and indulge in more food and drink and in larger quantities than usual.

Most of us know that how we feel can affect the foods we choose to eat (mood to food). What is less known is how what we eat affects our brain function (food to mood).

For many, food is a way of suppressing emotions such as loneliness, anger, boredom or sadness. For others, it satisfies cravings and hunger that seem to persist throughout the day, weeks or even months.

With so many opportunities to indulge, it’s no wonder our weight, as well as our emotions, goes up and down like a rollercoaster.

How different foods can trigger our moods all depend on what we eat and even when we eat it. Foods such as sugar, foods that are processed, and highly refined foods, can trigger moods and emotions.

Also eating these kinds of foods when our blood sugar is low, when we are stressed, or when our body’s resistance is low, can impact us in a negative way more than if we were nutritionally balanced.

Caffeine can boost our energy and concentration, but too much can lead to anxiety, depression and nervousness. Low levels of vitamins and nutrients may also trigger mood swings, as can a vast array of food additives.

We all find ourselves at the holiday table filling our plates to the brim, holding our stomachs afterwards and still, unable to resist at least sampling everything on the dessert tray.

However, a bit of planning before facing what is accepted as a given at the holidays can help you avoid overeating and its consequences of feeling too full, tired and, yes, guilty.

Remember that when you are eating is as important as what you are eating (and craving).

Here are some tips to practice during the holidays that may help move you from the vicious cycle of eating too much too fast to the virtuous cycle of understanding your relationship to food.

1. Drink plenty of water. Most people are dehydrated and don’t know it. It will keep your cravings and your appetite down and make you feel better all around.
Try drinking a few glasses before your holiday meal.

2. Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables (lots of greens) a day. This will give you your nutrients and fiber, which will keep you full throughout the day.

3. Start your day (especially on a holiday morning) with some exercise. By getting your body moving and your endorphins flowing, you will make healthier choices.

4. Eat multiple small healthy meals throughout the day, starting with breakfast, e.g., oatmeal, fruit and whole grains, that will keep you fueled and not famished.

5. Plan ahead! Think about what you’ll be eating so you don’t get caught with low blood sugar and an all-out binge. Keep some healthy options handy around the house, such as a bowl of apples, crisp veggies with hummus or nuts.

6. Eat your veggies first at your main meal. Your holiday table will have lots of vegetables to choose from. If you eat them first, you are most likely not to overload on the other, less healthful foods.

7. Don’t eat when you are bored, emotional, full or distracted. Think about what goes into your mouth as it goes into your mouth and enjoy it.

8. Eat slowly. Remember, it takes about 15 to 20 minutes for your stomach to know it has something in it.

This holiday, enjoy your relationship with food and be aware of all the wonderful things it does for you and your body.

Happy Holidays!

Lisa Fallon Mindel is a qualified holistic health and nutrition coach, as well as a model and triathlete. She counsels people on how to effectively reach their health, nutrition and wellness goals. With her personalized step-by-step program and support, reaching goals is enjoyable and lifelong. For more information go to: Wholebodybeautiful.com.