• 01-12-2022

    Take Control of Holiday Eating:

    Take Control of Holiday Eating:

    A Quick Start not a Quick Fix.

    Instead of heading into the holidays on autopilot, an eating free for all, throwing all caution to the wind, let’s explore a quick start (not a quick fix). So instead of eating more, losing control and craving more, explore the possibilities discussed here.  It isn’t about “cancelling the holidays”, still do the baking, attend the parties and do all things “holiday”!

    My hope is that everyone makes space over the holidays to rest, relax and rejuvenate for the new year.  Use these tips to explore ways to get through the holidays without having to wake up on January 1st full of shame saying, “I was “bad” and now it’s time to start (yet) another diet.”

    I do not believe in quick fixes.  Any long-term change requires lifestyle shifts. What better time to start than now?

    Enjoy yourself (by using your other senses and your imagination.)

    Food doesn’t have to be the focus of how you are going to get through the holidays. 

    We know that so much of the holidays is about memories (both good and bad), family, love and connection.  But did you know that the biggest portal into memory is not through taste, but rather through smell? The smell of the food and goodies is filling you with memories more than the tasting of it.  

    So instead of eating your memories, try using the sense of smell this holiday. Bring the fresh baked cookie to your nose and pause as you bring back memories of what baking cookies means to you. 

    You can take it a step further and imagine a tray of cookies baking in the oven.  In your mind’s eye, pick up the warm baked good, bring it to your nose.  Pause. Use your sense of smell and watch how it fills you with joy. Take time to smell it. The smell of it is filling you with the memories more than the tasting of the actual food.  

    When you can create a distance between yourself and the act of eating you are on the path of long-term success. Start by bringing your memories to mind via the sense of smell, instead of eating your memories.  

    Let’s remember other senses too! Use sound by playing holiday music that brings back happy memories.  Watch your favourite Christmas/holiday classic you watched as a child.  

    Out of sight. Out of mind. 

    Stimulus control is 70% of weight management.  Keeping your environment clear of extra triggers is a good way to get on the right path. 

    At home, parties or other holiday gatherings sit or stand where extra food isn’t constantly in your line of sight. If you are hosting, have people serve themselves in the kitchen and then come to the dining room table. 

    And let’s face it, for those who have grown up with the “Eat everything on the plate” rule it may be easier to just eat off smaller plates!

    At home keep mindless food triggers out of sight.  If you are in eye line of the treat it is so easy to engage in a conversation every time you pass it.  (“Oh I shouldn’t. But the cookie says “I taste so good. What are you waiting for?” You know how the conversation goes!) So, instead of having a relationship with the plate of cookies every time you walk past it, manage the conversation by storing them away in a container. 

    Manage Hunger

    Understanding the subtle cues of hunger is key to being able to stop eating before one is uncomfortably full. When one is overscheduled and stressed it is harder to discern the subtle hunger cues.  And when this happens it is far easier to go into the extremes of overeating. 

    First step is to get out of autopilot during the holidays. Pause and reflect. Find out if you really love the choices you are making. My clients find that a lot of the indulgences they have are because of the connection to it and in fact they might not even really enjoy it.  Are you eating something because it is there and always is there? Could you save it for the next function?

    If you don’t love it, don’t eat it.  Go to the party, look at all the food and ask yourself is there something you’d love to have, then have it.  Make room for those foods.  Not doing so can lead to overeating or binging. The key to success is to not deprive yourself. A lot of people have “all in” or “all out” thinking.  The goal is to not let the pendulum swing from restriction to excess, by giving yourself permission to eat what you choose.  Giving permission brings peace of mind to food choices.  

    Action plan: Plan to eat a treat. Yup I said it.  Give yourself permission. And eat it while you are sitting down, enjoying every bite vs. on the run and realizing you didn’t even taste that one bite which leads you to another.

    Here is something to explore:  I call it the “last bite threshold”.  There is a point in the eating experience where the enjoyment of the food hits a peak and then diminishes.  The goal is to identify when that peak happens.  It is also good to understand that after three bites our mouth experience goes from 90% down to 20%.  So next time you are enjoying the food bring to mind the concept of the last bite threshold and see how are able to stop eating without missing out on the pleasure.  You might just find in doing, so you can enjoy eating, while eating less. 

    If these strategies are new to you, give yourself space to practice. Just like working out your muscles in the gym, repetition and practice is needed to hone the skill. Learn these strategies and take them to the parties with you and see how different the outcome will be. And remember there is no such thing as perfection.  It is a journey and there WILL be bumps in the road, that is a given.  

    Now imagine…...It is January 1st you’ve opened your eyes and realized for the first time ever; you don’t need to start over again in the New Year because during the holiday time you respected your needs and started to listen to your body, nourished it with foods, all foods, without expecting perfection.  The journey has begun…… 

    • 11-10-2022

    Halloween & Staying Healthy: Can they go hand in hand?

    There is no shortage of food celebrations to enrich the fall season. With Thanksgiving dinner behind us we are quickly approaching another celebration that involves loads and loads of sweets.  Celebration and food often go hand in hand and that can make for a whole lot of fun. And that’s a good thing! And with some attention to our actions, the event can fun and balanced too!

    With Halloween just around the corner, how do I make it through without any “scary” consequences. We are bombarded with temptations even before the day, with a plethora of candy on display at the stores and at school or office parties.  How does one navigate between the scary costumes and the onslaught of empty calories from the candies, chocolate bars and sweets that are connected to this celebration? 

    The overall message is to keep the enjoyment high, find the “better for you” sweets in hopes of avoiding the dreaded shame (that my clients often talk).  Here are some tips to help you on your way to have fun and stayed healthy too: 

    1. Set yourself up for success. Eat a balanced meal before you trick or treat with your little ones, dish out the candy at the door or venture out to a costume party.  Creating a balanced plate of at least half vegetables, quarter protein and quarter carbohydrates will help to feel satiated, dropping the temptation to over reach for the sweets. A satisfying meal before any alcohol consumption is also a good plan. 

    2. Try alternative types of treats. A visit to the local craft store can help you find non-candy treats, such as cut ‘n paste booklets, stickers or fun stationary.  Or stock up on treats that support movement such as jump ropes, bouncy balls or sidewalk caulk.

    3. Out of sight. Out of mind.  I will never forget when I tried this one when the kids were young.  I even locked the stash in a cabinet and then inadvertently lost the key!  Much to my surprise the aftermath was not bad as they quickly forgot about the candy, proving to me that the evening of fun was plenty for them. However, as they grew older the strategy did have to change a bit.  Sometimes I removed some candy from their bags and used them at birthday parties.  Trial and error.  Personally, now we only buy Halloween candy just days before and only open the box on the evening of the 31st. 

    4. Staying well hydrated can help you control your sweet cravings.  Instead of letting the favour stay in your mouth only to tempt you to have another, try drinking some water instead.  You might be surprised now this can take your mind off the thought of “just another”.  

    5. Last but not least, celebrate!! I often get asked if I let my kids eat candy on Halloween. Afterall, a dietitian mom should have “rules”. I settled into the idea of letting them monitor their own intake without imposing limitations. They learned the very important skill of self regulation. I do believe in experiential learning and if they consumed too much and felt sick from sugar overload, they learned quicker than me trying to control their every last move.  With the habits of a healthy balanced plate already established, it was easy to step back into this way of eating.  One or two (or three) days of eating treats will not undo the years of healthy habit building. Self management of treats without feeling the guilt of consuming too much goes a long way to building healthy, happy lifetime eaters.