Anyone feeling a twinge of holiday anxiety? I am!
Last week I recommended taking on the role of an observer, to pay attention to behavioral patterns and automatic responses regarding holiday treats.
I try to practice what I preach. As a result I've noticed a steady increase in my anxiety levels and a corresponding desire to create and indulge in paleo/keto treats.
I know that my homemade treats are a much better choice than sugar laden cookies and candies, but when I ask myself the truth about why I'm craving them, the answer is to soothe anxiety.
I don't believe in deprivation. I believe that "glorious exceptions" are an enjoyable part of life. But I do want to understand if my eating behavior is stemming from uncomfortable emotions.
I use gentle questioning to get to the bottom of cravings. For example, when an urge to hit the coconut butter jar hits me, I pause and ground myself in the present moment. I get outside of my head and connect to my breath.
Then I ask a few questions. For example:
- Am I craving this because I am hungry?
- If not, what is going on?
- Am I looking for a hit of dopamine?
- Am I hoping to numb an unpleasant feeling by eating this item?
- If I start eating this item, will I be able to stop?
- Can I sit with this feeling for a bit and then check back in with the craving in an hour?
- Is there something else I can do to address this feeling? (My go-to activities are taking a walk, stretching, reading, listening to a podcast, organizing.)
Perhaps you are not an emotional eater. (Lucky!) You can still gently question conditioned behaviors.
Let's go back to the scenario in which you are offered a plate of holiday fudge. When that fudge is presented, you can take a minute to ground yourself in the present. Take a deep breath.
Then ask yourself, "Do I really want this fudge? Will it give me pleasure?"
If the answer is "Hell yes!", then take a piece, and enjoy it. Appreciate the smell, the texture, the flavor. Take small bites and be present with each one.
Most importantly, don't judge yourself harshly. Don't assume that your whole day/week/month is ruined because you had one piece of fudge. Lucky you- you will get another (and another and another) chance to make a healthy decision.
You are making progress just by recognizing your choices in the moment!
Now, let's say you are offered the plate of fudge and you pause, take a breath, and ask the questions, "Do I really want this fudge? Will it give me pleasure?" and the answer is "no" or "not really", then go ahead and politely decline. You won't be missing out on the holidays because you aren't eating fudge. You will probably feel proud of yourself and more empowered the next time you have a choice to make.
I applaud you for taking on the role of an observer and gently questioning automatic or conditioned behaviors. You are learning and making progress and I am very proud of you!
I would love to hear your realizations and successes! Let's celebrate together.
If you would like to try a low sugar holiday treat, here is a recipe for you!