We are in the thick of the Holiday season and just when I thought my family was out of Halloween candy we get invited to family get-togethers and it all starts back over. Although the holidays are often centered around food it doesn’t mean we have to be a victim to that plate of brownies or dirty diet cokes with seasonal flavors.
Today I am going to share why it’s easy to indulge in comfort foods and how we can use this information to “battle the bulge” and prevent feeling guilty when you choose to indulge. Yes I said, choose to indulge. How enjoyable would the holidays be if we couldn’t partake in childhood memories or traditions including the ones with food? Please pass the orange juice! (see my last article to see what my not-so-healthy holiday drink is)!
I am Marci Barker, a personal trainer and weight management specialist who teaches and preaches Fun & Sustainable habits to be happy and healthy now and forever. My team of personal trainers at Marci Barker Fitness have helped thousands of clients and I’d like to extend to you some knowledge too. After a short reading, I have a really funny video for you introducing how I can help you NOT gain weight and ensure you know how to be physically happy during the holidays.
At Marci Barker Fitness (MBF), we are constantly outfitting our clients with an arsenal to tackle the holiday season and protect what is most important; our minds and bodies.
What is it about the holidays that make it so easy to engage in unhealthy habits and easily gain weight? It’s the emotional connection that food brings to our senses. We are very familiar with the term “comfort foods” and I bet yours immediately came to mind. A comfort food is a taste that takes us down memory lane and reminds us of a time in our lives where everything seemed perfect. It makes us feel like nothing in the world matters and for a moment or two we emotionally eat, in a good way! Yes emotional eating can be good!!! But what makes emotional eating become “bad”?
In the body we have what’s called our Gastrointestinal System (GI tract), it’s what moves our food through our bodies, takes the required nutrients and gets rid of the rest. Part of our GI tract contains our Enteric Nervous System (ENS)and it’s located right behind our belly buttons. It is primarily responsible for digestion and sending our brain signals based on what is happening in the stomach.
Since our brains are mainly responsible for our physical actions (Central Nervous System), it deeply depends on these messages to gauge what the body should proceed with. It may send messages of hunger, fullness, nausea, pain, etc. That means our ENS entices our CNS to do things like put the fork down, get up from the table, or continuing to eat what’s on our plates.
Because of these amazing abilities to propel the body to act, our Enteric Nervous System is nicknamed the “second brain” and is in fact, where the common expression “gut feeling” comes from! Our bodies are so powerful! It’s important that we learn the connection between our food and our emotions.
“To keep it simple there is a strong connection with your emotions and how the brain in your gut communicates with the brain in your head. When I eat my mom’s cinnamon rolls, even though the logical part of the brain in my head is thinking of all sugary unhealthy reasons my body doesn’t need it, the emotional part of my brain and the “brain” in my gut is reminded of the safe, peaceful, and loving feelings from the memories those cinnamon rolls bring. THAT makes this food comforting to me.”
– McKenzie, Trainer at Marci Barker Fitness
Where do we draw the line with our comfort foods this holiday season? We should let those foods comfort us but not hinder our ability to feel well. If you choose to indulge in 1 or 2 cookies because it’s your comfort food that is fine but let’s talk about how our gut feelings can help us take care of our bodies. Truthfully, the taste from one bite would be enough to trigger our emotions associated with that food, however, indulging in a whole cookie may not make you “fall off the wagon.”
If we choose to keep eating more and more cookies just to justify our emotional needs, our body’s physiological responses will try to convince us otherwise. We start to get full, we may feel shame for our choices, maybe realize how many calories we ate, and eventually our comfort foods aren’t so comforting anymore! Bummer. Our emotions and bodies are meant to work together!
It comes back to the question, “What is it about the holidays that make it so easy to engage in unhealthy habits and easily gain weight?” It’s very likely the lack of support, education, and goals during the most trying times of food choices.
That’s where I and my team of personal trainers come in. We have helped many men and women stay on the path they truly want for themselves, both during this holiday season and after! We all want to enjoy those foods and NOT gain weight and guess what? It is completely possible! I do it every year but it’s not without the help of supportive friends and family and education to keep me going.
We can add to your community of support or start it for you. At the end of the day, know that you are in control! Whether your health journey is just beginning or you have been at it for years let’s not let the holidays to throw you off so hard your comfort foods are no longer comforting.
“With the right mindset, you can maintain your healthy habits through the holidays so you don’t feel like you have to start over in January. There are so many gatherings to enjoy during the holidays. Do yourself the favor of eating well so you can feel well. Also, don’t forget that when you decide to say yes, put aside the guilt and enjoy and savor every little bite. Stop when it’s not giving you the true satisfaction you desire.” – Stacey
Okay on to the fun stuff! I created this video to help you get excited for the holiday season and illustrate the fact that it is possible to have fun, indulge, be a part of a supporting community, and NOT gain weight this holiday season.
If you’ve thought about making a change there is no reason to put it off. Learn the skills now to fully enjoy your holiday season. Let it be about family and the relationships you strengthen, not about feeling guilty about food or digging a bigger health hole for you to get out of.
The trainers at Marci Barker Fitness are always available to answer questions and help you get clear on the path you should take but if you’re on the fence about it, you should try us out while our most popular program is just $9.97!
As always, keep it Fun and Sustainable!