This can be a difficult time of year for many reasons. Some of us don’t actually like it very much and others love it. Some of us are facing it without loved ones, others are having to spend time with family or friends and find that stressful. There is waaaay too much food about. Everyone seems to expect us to eat ourselves into a food-induced coma and do nothing but slump in front of the TV. There is too much conspicuous consumerism and too little spirituality for some of us.
However, short of marooning ourselves on a desert island for the duration, there is little we can do to totally avoid the Christmas and New Year expected Blow-out. But we can approach it in a different way with a no diet approach under our belts.
How would it be to choose one of the 10 Beyond Chocolate principles as a main focus for the festive period? Here’s how I might interpret each one for myself over this holiday …
1. Tune In
I could spend some time each day just sitting quietly and Tuning In. This needn’t disrupt the festivities; no-one is going to bat an eyelid if I take myself off to the bathroom and I can lock the door and just run through how I am feeling emotionally, what information I’m getting from my body and what thoughts are barrelling through my brain right now. With this information I can decide what to do next – do I want to take part in a drinking game? Do I need cake and coffee right now? Would I benefit from a brisk walk? Over the holidays I could commit to doing this once a day and make time to do it – if I manage to do it more often, that would be a bonus.
2. Eat When I Am Hungry
Well, yes. But how often do I actually do this? Certainly not every meal, so this would be a bit of a challenge for me. But if I were to focus on this at Christmas, it may mean that I am not going to eat at the same time as everyone else. Of course, my hunger may naturally fall at meal times or I may be able to manage my hunger so that I can sit down to eat with a good appetite. Either way, it would make the food I did eat taste so much better because I enjoy eating so much more when I’m actually hungry.
3. Eat Whatever I Want
Now this is definitely a principle that seems tailor made for Christmas and New Year! However, a closer understanding of the principle will show that it’s not carte blanche to binge. What this would mean for me over Christmas and New Year is that I will eat the things I want to and I won’t eat the things I don’t want to regardless of any extenuating circumstances. So if I am not hungry, I won’t eat just because food is available and just because someone else is eating, or because someone wants me to or because someone’s gone to a lot of trouble etc etc. I will put myself first this time and I will eat what I want, when I want to and no more (or less!).
4. Eat Mindfully: Put it on a Plate, Sit Down and Focus
It’s very easy to wander about with food in hand, eating without really noticing. So with this principle I would make each eating opportunity a formal occasion – I may even go as far as to light a candle, but I will certainly put whatever I’m eating (yes even a handful of crisps or nuts) on to a plate, I will sit down with it (preferably at a table) and I will really focus on eating this food right now.
5. Stop When I Am Satisfied
I have been working on this principle for some time and it is gradually becoming easier to tell when I am Satisfied (as opposed to Stuffed!), so I could do this over Christmas if I chose to. It would mean being very aware of how much I need to eat in order to reach this point and choosing to stop before I tip over from Satisfaction into Over-Eating. I managed to do this last Christmas and it made for a much more satisfying experience all round. Definitely one to think about for this year.
I wrote about my experience of this principle in another blog – it is a great way to approach Christmas and New Year and I re-visit this very powerful principle regularly.
7. Owning My Body
Still challenging for me, particularly when photographs are involved. Over the festive period there will be a LOT of photos taken by family members; some posed in groups, others informal. I could choose to embrace this principle this year and not attempt to hide from the camera. I could choose to look at the photos of myself as my family sees them; a loved one rather than view them through my own critical eyes that notices all my faults … I offer this to you as a possibility but I don’t think I’m quite there on this one myself yet. Maybe next year?
Aha! I think this might be the one for me this year. I do a lot of different sorts of Move throughout the year but it is harder to maintain this over the festive period when classes close down and there are people around at home. So I will commit to Move once a day over the holiday period – a brisk walk, a 30 second plank, a bounce up and down the garden path on my kangoo jump boots, 5 minutes of yoga stretches … whatever I can and want to do. I’ll report back next year!
9. Support Myself
I could do this over the Christmas and New Year by keeping an eye on the Beyond Chocolate website and joining in the discussions on the Community page. I could do this by reaching out to the Beyond Chocolate community to support me through what can be a challenging time of year. I could Support Myself by commiting to one of these 10 principles and making time for myself over this frantic time. How could you Support Yourself? How about starting by taking the no diet pledge?
10. Be My Own Guru
This would involve really accepting that I am the only expert on me and that no-one, NO-ONE else knows how I am feeling right now or what I need. Someone else might think I need ‘cheering up’ with chocolate or wine or mince-pies, but is that what I really need? If I am going to Be My Own Guru then I will accept or decline depending on what is right for me, not them. I accept that this is a time of year for sharing and being generous, but if it is not going to benefit me, I can choose not to do it.
So, there’s my next few Christmases sorted out in a Beyond Chocolate way. This year will be my Move year and I am looking forward to it already.