The holidays are a challenging time of year for wellness goals and weight loss combined. You aren't alone if you find yourself dreading this time of year for the obstacles it brings when you are trying to invest in your health. Generally it isn't so much the food that surrounds us that's the issues, but rather our mindset this time of year, which I've covered in the past on my blog post in 2019 of Why Our Holiday Mindset Can Be Destructive. Sometimes we need a better perspective on how we look at food and this is an analogy that I came up with that a lot of my patients are already probably familiar with.
To preface, I see many times that during this tough season patients are already starting off with a mindset of defeat. Many patients already find that this season is a lost cause for them and put their wellness goals on the back-burner to again revisit it at the end of the holiday season. Fast-forward 2.5 full months where then they are realizing more damage than good was done versus just facing it head on. Sound familiar? If so, keep reading.
Picture this - Imagine you were taking a course in school.
Would you expect to get a 100 at the end of the course especially if it was a challenging course?
Likely no, but many of us would try to get close if possible. Right?
Now I want you to pretend that every exam you take is a meal and every homework assignment or quiz is a snack.
If you failed an exam (had an unbalanced meal) you wouldn't then say "well I already failed one, it's no use now I'll just fail the rest of the exams and homework assignments!" But yet... we have this mindset ALL the time with food. For example, I'll hear a lot of my patients say well I was "good" all day and then I had a piece of candy. Then because I had candy, my day was already ruined so then I had a bag of chips, ice cream, Wendy's for dinner, etc.
Now if we kept to this analogy of taking a course, generally what would our recourse be if we failed an exam?
That's right, you would study more and make the next exam count to turn around your average grade. You would make each exam count as much as possible. And if you had a few not-so-great scores no big deal because there were plenty of other opportunities within your course to create a better average.
So, I challenge you all to start looking at each opportunity you have when you eat to make it as balanced as possible and separate each opportunity you have to eat from the rest of the opportunities. You have blank slate each time you make your food choices and one choice should not affect your next 5 food choices. After all, we would never do this if we were taking a course. We would always try our best each opportunity we had to get a grade in the grade book and we know that if we had a not so great grade all the more matter to try our best the next time.
As for the holidays, I challenge you to think of your meals and snacks in this way during this season. We are not looking for perfect (ever! it's not possible!). We are just looking for good enough and a good average. One salad didn't overturn ones health and one cookie certainly didn't either. A cumulative approach to food is what we should be focused on. Not an "on" or "off" mentality.
I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season and really try to embody the meaning of this analogy. I hope it helps!
Until Next Time,
Jackie (Iannone) Cataldi, MS, RDN, CDN