‘Tis the season to be jolly
Fa la la la la, la la la la (fa la la la la, la la lala)’
(Excerpt from ‘Deck the Halls’ written by Thomas Oliphantt)
This time of year used to be a bittersweet time for me. I loved the fact that everyone was happy,there was such hope and excitement in the air and of course there were the social side of things. Parties,gatherings, family get togethers you name it, the invites were there. The downside to it all was the mountain of temptation that I would be met with whenever I attended these. Of course, I used dread what I would wear as well so mostly I just felt bad about myself and jealous of people who were slim.
So, how do we deal with this dilemma? The easiest way would obviously be not accepting the invitations in the first place but what would be the point of that? Who wants to have a miserable Christmas and miss out on all the fun and festivities? The whole point of life is to squeeze every last drop of happiness from it for ourselves and those close to us. In fact, at this time of year, it’s so wonderful to see these good wishes extend to those less fortunate than us as well which only makes the whole time more magical.
In my dark old dieting days, these times were more dread than anticipation however. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted all that the festive season brings but I could never really enjoy it because I was terrified of putting on even more weight and ending up heavier than ever before. To top that, I was desperate to look good at these social events but, despite my best efforts I always ended up stuffing my face all through December and into mid-January leaving me worse off year on year. Guilt and shame became my best friends and the only respite I had were those wonderful,carefree but terribly short moments when I would feed my face with everything I could get hold of. I had gotten quite good at looking as if I hadn’t eaten a lot while sneaking as much as I could into my mouth unnoticed. I don’t mind admitting that I even put food aside in my handbag and ate it when no one was looking or as I made my way to the bathroom. Even thinking about that now makes me cringe with shame.
I am so happy to say that those times are behind me and have been for many years. I now know how to deal with any situation like this by putting myself in ‘Ambassador mode’. What is that you ask? Well, I call it this because I know that being the Ambassador of my body and soul gives me the responsibility of doing what is in the best interests for not just my mind (that’s screaming, eat everything!) but my body also (that whispers, please don’t hurt me anymore). To trigger the Ambassador mode, say out loud(for maximum effect) or whisper to yourself if it is not appropriate ‘I am the Ambassador of my body and soul. I will do everything in my power to seek out what is good for me’. So,when I’m in these situations, this is how I prepare for them and deal with them:
‘I am the Ambassador of my body’
- Wear nice but comfortable clothes. I used to be a firm believer that the only way I could look good was if I was wearing extremely tight, figure hugging clothes. I now know that this is of course not true. If I’m going to attend an event where food is available, I have in my wardrobe my ‘eat as much as you like’ clothes. I have casual and formal outfits so that I am prepared for any occasion. Remember, you can look good in clothes that don’t suck every last ounce of breath out of you. The reason for this is that when you eat anything whilst wearing tight clothing, you will very quickly start to feel uncomfortable. As soon as this happens, you start to feel bad and guilty. These negative feelings will crush your self-esteem and are more likely to make you want to say ‘what the heck, I might as well stuff my face now I feel so bad anyway’.
- Eat the food that you love. I am a firm believer of ‘what you resist,persists’. The old me would defiantly resist the foods I craved for and opt for salad, or fruit options. All this did was make my cravings grow in to monsters, my mouth water like Niagara Falls until I couldn’t take it anymore and gave in. Again, once the monsters were let loose, I ate like there was no tomorrow, not even tasting anything after the first couple of mouthfuls followed by the inevitable feelings of unworthiness and inadequacy.
It all changed when I gave myself permission from the outset to enjoy myself. I ate what I liked and really enjoyed it. I also was very mindful as I chewed, making sure I could taste everything and feel the texture of it so that my eating experience was enhanced. Afterwards I felt great because I had really enjoyed eating and didn’t feel guilty. This meant that I never felt desperate and I ate less than if I had tried to deny myself at first.
- Never bargain with yourself that if you eat at asocial event, you’ll be stricter with yourself the next day or days. This just tells your brain to eat everything in sight so that you can make the most of it before the starving begins. Just think about when you have been on a restrictive calorie diet how your hunger grows and grows, well, if you tell yourself that the restriction is coming, your brain will immediately try and consume enough so it’s less likely to be hungry the next day.
Instead, do not count the calorie intake. Eat what you like and be happy that you did. This way, your brain is relaxed and not prepared for combat. The next day you remember how great a time you had and carry on with your life.
- Do not feel guilty or bad about yourself. I don’t know about you but in the past, I always felt bad if I was eating anything that was ‘forbidden’. After eating, I would constantly try and calculate the number of calories I had consumed. If I was at a friend’s house and I found some weighing scales, I would immediately jump on them to see if I’d put on weight. I’d wake the next day full of guilt and remorse which just continued to feed the vicious cycle of binge and starvation for me.
Remind yourself you are in Ambassador mode
At every given opportunity, remind yourself that you are the Ambassador of your body. In this mode,you must let yourself enjoy life, you should taste the food, you should allow yourself to eat it guilt free. Tell yourself that if you are happy, then it is OK. If there is fruit and vegetables available, have these as well. Tell yourself that you deserve the nutrients that are in there, that your body will thank you for it. Feel smug as you put things inside your body,tell yourself that you are amazing and ask your body to lead you to what you’d like to eat. This concept may feel strange at first but believe me it is very powerful and will help you to easily make choices that are good for your body and soul.
Written by Sherry Taylor
Author of The Anti-Diet Lifestyle