Tag Archives: holiday eating

This Year’s Holiday Food Pleasures and Disappointments

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Which treat was the holiday disappointment: the dark chocolate truffle or the caramel corn?

It’s two days after Christmas, the kids are gone, the house is quiet, and I am looking back at the eating pleasures and disappointments of this year’s eating experience.  This is my food version of Siskel and Ebert’s classic “thumbs up/thumbs down” movie reviews.  Keep in mind that these are MY pleasures and MY disappointments.  Yours are likely to be different, just as we will all prefer certain movies over others, but being more mindful means getting more of what you want from YOUR eating experience most of the time, during the holidays and all year long.

Disappointments (Thumbs DOWN)

Marbled Pound Cake (made by me with a special family recipe from my Grandma)

Why?  I ate a small piece while busy getting dessert for everyone else.  I was focused on serving, but hey, I always have a piece on Christmas Eve, so I ate it with my mind elsewhere . . . couldn’t even tell you what it tasted like!

Virginia Ham

Why?  I tasted a small piece at Christmas dinner.  It looked juicy and yummy, but I could feel my body dehydrating with each bite . . . too salty!

Caramel Corn

Why?   It came as part of a gift box, and to me this was just a waste of space that could have been better filled with nuts, chocolate, or fruit.  I don’t like caramel corn much, so I had no problem leaving it in the bag.  (It would have been more disappointing if I had eaten it.)

 

Holiday Eating Pleasures (Thumbs UP)

NOT eating the caramel corn

Why?  I don’t really like it, so why bother?  It saved room for . . .

 ONE Godiva Dark Chocolate Truffle 

Why?  Mmmmm.  Perfect size for a treat.  Small, decadent, expensive (makes it even more special), all with the health benefits of dark chocolate.

Marbled Pound Cake

Why?  This was the same cake mentioned above as a disappointment, but the experience was completely different this time.  I ate it the day after Christmas in a quiet house . . . tasted and enjoyed every bite.

Tossed Green Salad (with pomegranate seeds, avocado, roasted beets, goat cheese, and homemade balsamic vinaigrette)

Why?  Why not??  What’s not to like about that?  I kept going back for more.

Leftover Chicken Enchiladas (small amount of enchilada mixed with a huge helping of steamed broccoli)

Why?  This was the day after Christmas, and it was the perfect blend of clean food with the flavor of delicious homemade enchiladas.  It filled me up and tasted delicious.  It put me in a “back to normal” eating frame of mind.

Harry and David Pear

Why?  This was simply the best pear I have ever eaten.  We get a gift box with 6 of these from my financial planner every year (along with the caramel corn!), and they truly are a treat to be savored.  I would choose one over almost any other treat.  And it’s healthy!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Why?  I just love them.  Roasted with a little olive oil and seasoning, they get crispy on the edges and taste delicious.  Nutritionally, they are super foods, and I feel healthy eating them.

Homemade Apple Pie with Hagen Daz Vanilla Ice Cream

Why?  This capped off a delicious Christmas dinner, and I had only a sliver (the perfect amount to savor).  The crust was crunchy, the filling was perfectly sweet and gooey.  Rich vanilla ice cream was the perfect complement.  I think I make a good apple pie, but this one made by a dinner guest was better than anything I have ever made.  I ate it slowly and enjoyed every bite!

My Holiday Eating Insights

1.  I am doing a good job of choosing what I really want.  My list of disappointments is much shorter than my list of holiday food pleasures.

2.  I will never make perfect choices all the time.  Sometimes it is is impossible to know without tasting, and sometimes I don’t make completely mindful choices.  I’m human!

3.  The eating experience depends on more than just what is being eaten.  Enjoyment is greater when I am relaxed and focused on what I am eating.

4.  “Healthy foods” can be tasty, and “pleasure foods” that are truly enjoyed can help make overall eating more healthy.  (There is nothing like deprivation to fuel a binge!)

5.  The holidays are to be enjoyed, and food is only a  piece of that experience.

Happy Holidays!  I hope most of your food choices feel kind.

 

 

 

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“Coffee is far more than a beverage” and food is almost never simply fuel.

I had coffee with a friend recently.   Retreating from the cold Wisconsin weather, we settled in, warmed up, and savored the wonders of our steamy beverages:  the taste and warmth of the drinks, to be sure, but also the experience of connection in a cozy setting.

Later she sent this:

Yes!  We eat – and drink – for reasons that are complex and interconnected.  Do we ever eat simply for physical hunger and nourishment?   If so, it is rare, at least in developed countries.  I understand the metaphor of a human body as a car, and we want to use good quality fuel, but it’s not that simple!

We are human beings, not machines, so eating decisions are always interesting blends of physical hunger, pleasure seeking, and emotional needs.  We often weigh these factors unconsciously, so food decisions can seem to be controlled by factors beyond our control.  “I don’t know why I ate those cookies.  I couldn’t stop, and I didn’t even really like them that much.”  (In reality, the cookies may have been a mindless attempt to meet an emotional need, one that might have been more truly soothed with a non-food solution.)

I believe that one reason we tune out and don’t hear our genuine needs is that our diet-focused culture seldom encourages that kind of non-judgmental observation.  Why would we be curious about that if we believe that we should just follow a plan no matter what?!  Why question that craving?  Just resist it!

People who blindly try to follow a rigid eating plan do not always realize that ignoring real needs does not make them disappear.  In fact, the opposite is usually true; ignoring them is more likely to cause uncontrolled eating that appears to have no logic other than “I have no willpower, and I’m a total failure.”  There’s not much insight in that kind of thinking!

This is not to say that having a plan is a bad thing.  It is actually a very good thing if a plan is defined as having an intention to do something, but any plan that will work long term must be chosen, not imposed.  That means it should make sense for your body and be realistic for your life.  Maybe most importantly, any good plan for human beings needs to be flexible.

We know what we need if we pay attention.  If we listen, true needs (sometimes for physical nourishment, but sometimes for more complex things like warmth or comfort or pleasure or pain avoidance) become less mysterious and we can choose to honor them and care for them kindly, or we can decide to ignore what would be truly supportive and act outside of our best interests.

Either way, a choice is better than mindless default.  Choice always leaves the door open for a kinder approach next time, and choice is less likely to cause regret and disappointment, guilt and shame.

Is holiday time a bad time to start making lifestyle changes?

What do you think? I hear a lot of people making statements like “I know the holidays are a bad time to start anything . . . .”, “I might as well wait until January . . . .” . . . . . etc., etc. Is this a bad time to try making any changes at all?

If you are one of the many who wait . . . and wait . . . and WAIT for the perfect time to start making changes, I have a different point of view on the subject. I think any time, any day, is a perfect time – THE perfect time to start if that moment is now. Why? Because this very moment is the only one any of us has to make changes.

This is your moment to do something different, whether it is July, or September, or Thanksgiving Day. Keep putting it off, and the postponement becomes part of the plan. “I will start (again) tomorrow (Monday, in January . . . ).”

The avoidance of looking at change is often rooted in the belief that change needs to be dramatic and sudden. In reality, I believe that lasting changes are built from little adjustments created by changes in thinking. If you believe that this is a horrible time to start, how can positive energy toward new actions arise? Most likely no change will happen, and your usual holiday lifestyle will be sustained through your thinking.

What if you adopted a new belief this year, one that did not assume that change has to shake up your world? What if that belief allowed you to gently ease toward a more healthy holiday season – and you could give yourself credit for those little changes?

In the spirit of possibilities, remember that this very moment is the perfect one to start. Planning for minor improvements is a real opportunity for a healthy dose of comfort and joy!

Daily Exercise Offsets Unhealthy Changes from Short-Term Overeating

recent study of 26 healthy men highlights the amazing benefits – even in a brief time period – of regular exercise.  Several previous studies have shown unhealthy changes in blood sugar control as well as genetic changes to fat cells in response to overfeeding.

This study compared two groups, both of which were significantly overfed relative to their usual calorie level.  Both groups decreased their usual daily activity level during the study, but only one group ran at a moderate pace on a treadmill 45 minutes every day.  (This group consumed additional calories to compensate for the additional calorie burn, meaning that both groups were overfed by the same net amount).

In just a week, the non-exercising group showed deteriorating insulin action and negative changes to key genes controlling metabolism.  The exercisers showed no significant changes!

If  you have trouble getting back on track after the big holiday feed-athons, consider these study results!  If you are still feeling off-track from Thanksgiving dinner, this might be the encouragement you need . . . yes, it does matter!  What you do NOW always matters.  Even with dietary splurges, a little activity goes a long way toward better health.  Happy Holidays!