It’s dark. Here, in Seattle, the relentless should-we-start-building-the-ark-rain makes it seem even darker. The lights of the season are soooo necessary, aren’t they? Whether they come from a Hanukkah menorah, Christmas tree, outdoor display, or a fireplace, we need the warmth that light brings this time of year. It’s not always easy to get through the holidays. Many people I talk to tell me that they are relieved when it’s over. I know there are many reasons for this but one, of course, is the food.
Food can create a kind of light for the season, whether in celebration or for coping. Certain foods that come along only at this time of year take on special meaning– honoring family traditions, showing up at office parties, or artfully displayed in shop windows or refrigerated cases. The food is often more beautiful at this time of year as well, so it is that much more inviting, and can beckon to you (see my last post about humming and beckoning).
There may also be a desire for “heavier”, richer foods, spiced up to keep the body warm, or comfort foods that create a sense of well-being and coziness. Can you relate? All of this is wonderful and good, until it’s not. For some, it can be a quandary to get through:
“I should/can/it’s ok to eat XX because I can only get it this time of year.”
“I can’t say no to XX because I’ll seem rude or ungrateful, or I’ll hurt XX’s feelings.”
“I always eat XX, it’s tradition.” or “I always make XX, it’s tradition and what is expected.”
The problem is that all of those reasons are based on extrinsic notions, not intrinsic wisdom. Being a mindful, attuned, intuitive eater allows you to connect to the “actual”, or what your true desire is and how to satisfy and fulfill that. Here, you have a choice of whether or not it will be food, and if it is food, what it will be.
Am I hungry? How hungry am I?
If you’re not hungry, honor that. Food will be much more satisfying when you are ready for it.
What would feel good for my body and energy level right now? Am I able to get that right now?
You may or may not be able to get the exact thing that you are wanting in the moment. That can be tricky. Do the best you can with seeking out the taste, texture, temperature that would be closest to what you need.
Am I trying to be “good” by not eating what is really humming to me because it’s “bad” (unhealthy, fattening, carb-filled, etc.)?
Be aware of deprivation. If you are feeling like you don’t get to have something that you truly want, that my friends, is going to backfire. Have some, and above all, really taste it and fully enjoy it. You may discover that a bite is all you really desire, or that you can happily enjoy the whole thing for the first time, without bashing yourself with guilt later.
Am I going to miss out? FOMO, HFV (Holiday Food Variety)
Did Aunt Dottie bring her famous gingerbread cookies to your gathering? Everyone loves those, they’re going to go like hotcakes!… PORTION ANXIETY! Will there be enough? Will there be enough for me?
Do you truly love her gingerbread, or is it the crowd around them that makes them more tempting? If you do love them, take a deep breath, ease your way into the swarm, and have one. This is an experiment. Take the cookie. Hold it tenderly, take a bite, and enjoy it. Bite by bite, be aware of all the taste sensations and the specialness of the cookie. When you’re finished, ask yourself if you feel complete. If not, have another. If they are gone, sit with that disappointment. It’s going to be ok. Have a talk with Aunt Dottie about the recipe.
Do I want what is being served right now? Or ever?
Stay aware of your hunger and fullness, as well as what you are truly wanting to eat if you are hungry. It’s important to know you have a choice–it’s your ticket to freedom.
Not eating what is being served does not have to be rude or ungrateful. There is no need to eat something you don’t want or enjoy to please someone. This may sound harsh, but it’s your body, not theirs. And there are creative ways to modify the situation so no one ends up feeling badly.
You can offer your sincere thanks and the truth that you are simply just not hungry right now. You can say no for now, but ask to save it for later. You can take some to go, with no intention of eating it, and pass it along to someone who would enjoy it.
If I’m not hungry, what am I?
You may discover that you want something, but you just don’t know what. Spend some time here to ask yourself how you are feeling. We have a tendency to not allow this. Attempting to name what we are feeling can seem like a waste of time or scary. What if we don’t come up with anything? What if we do and it’s unpleasant? See above where I said that knowing you have a choice is your ticket to freedom? Well, that’s not just about food. It’s also about feelings and the emotional content of your life. When you can name the feeling, you are beginning the journey toward awareness and understanding of what you may need other than food.
Be gentle with yourself and know that you are loved.
For your reflection~
What is the most comforting and nurturing thing I could do for myself today?