I really want you to enjoy your food.

I want this for you, as we slip ever more deeply into the holiday season, but truly, I want this for you all the time.

What does that really mean? It’s about making choices, and being aware of all that goes into a fulfilling eating experience.

You’ve probably already noticed the blab out there about disciplined eating during the holidays, paired with the recipes for decadent treats that will wow your guests.

It’s enough to make me want to run screaming! In my experience, there’s a tendency to go all or nothing. Throw caution to the wind as the nutmeggy eggnog keeps flowing, or those perfectly formed latkes are piling up… “Well, if I went that far, I might as well just eat it all…”

Or, the more pious strategy of having a tablespoon of this, ¼ cup of that, or staying away from the festivities altogether, eating “clean”, and emerging on January 1st, “victorious”.

Let’s get real.

If you want to stay on the grid this season, there are some things you can think about to make the eating more pleasant, and less a battle between shoulds and shouldn’ts.

The polarized, all-or-nothing way of approaching the season is not too satisfying, to say the least. And resigning yourself to either-or is not at all necessary. I’d like to propose that instead, we think about acceptance. A beautiful, but stressful, joyous, but sometimes very blue season is upon us. I think it’s important to accept the season as a whole experience, without the kind of expectations that promote added stress, guilt, and pressure.

And our relationship with food is no exception to this. So how do you go about this? In my work with clients, we find what is reasonable, doable, and sustainable. That’s for the long term, so the holidays are folded in to that. We’re going to start with “humming” and “beckoning”

A “humming” food is one that you really love and desire, regardless of availability. When a certain food hums to you, you yearn for it. Gingerbread anything really hums to me this time of year. I think it’s the warmth of the spice that is so inviting.

A “beckoning” food is one that you don’t truly desire, but is available now. “It looks good”. When a food beckons, it calls out to you. Something that comes to mind for me is the variety of eggnog in the dairy section of the market. It’s there, so it sounds good, but it never really satisfies me.

There’s nothing wrong with eating a food that beckons, however if you don’t follow the hum, and eat the beckoning food instead, then you will not feel satisfied. You may still feel hungry. Here are some things to think about when you’re out there amidst the festivities (or any time, for that matter!)

Humming Food

•You think of the food without seeing it, or before seeing it.

•You yearn for the food.

•The food may not even be immediately available.

•A food you feel a craving for right now–Desire for the food comes from deep inside.

•It satisfies hunger.

Beckoning Food

•This food wasn’t on your mind until you saw it.

•The food calls out to you.

•The food is immediately available.

•It looks good. You’d enjoy it, but you don’t crave it.

•It tastes good but doesn’t satisfy. Or you have to overeat to get the satisfaction of fullness.

Think about this:

What are the most delicious favorites that you love this time of year? Focus on those things that are humming and be aware of the other things that are beckoning.

Mini-Holiday Worksheet (get out your journal!)

What are the challenges you anticipate during the holidays?

What are you looking forward to? What are your favorite holiday foods?

What choices do you have when holiday food beckons?

How can you remain being an attuned eater, responding to what hums, during the holidays?

Be gentle with yourself. Always. And know that you are loved.