‘Tis Not The Season For Diets
Obviously any kind of diet-based approach is going to fail over the holidays. Instead, we recommend working on food skills. The five food skills we start people with, at One by One Nutrition, are:
- Eat 3-4 times per day without snacking
- Feel hungry 30-60 minutes before eating
- Eat just enough
- Portioning your food
- Eat mostly whole foods
For most people, skills like the above are much more effective than a diet-based approach like cutting out certain “bad” foods or eating certain “magic” foods. For long time readers, we used to call these ‘habits,’ but have started calling them ‘skills’ in the last year.
The Problem With Thanksgiving
Lets say you’ve been working on your food skills for the last few months, but now your family is in town for Thanksgiving; There’s food everywhere, and you’re stressed about family drama. It might seem impossible to keep up with the diet or habits or food skills you’ve been working on.
Here is the secret: Don’t keep up with all of it.
One of the most effective things about a skill based approach is that we recognize that different situations are different skills. For example, practicing a skill like eating just enough during the week is often very different from practicing ‘eating just enough’ on the weekend. Those are two very different versions of the skill. Given that you are probably going to have weekends and weekdays for the rest of your life, those are two skills that are worth practicing and getting good at.
On the flipside, Thanksgiving is a totally unusual situation. Managing any of the food skills during Thanksgiving is entirely unlike any other time during the rest of the year. In fact, there are potentially so many things that will be different, from who you’re with to what you are doing, to how often food is around, to how much food everyone is eating around you, it’s almost like being on a different planet.
So, there’s no way you can attempt to be as masterful at all of the habits/skills you work on in normal life, during Thanksgiving.
In fact, I’d argue you shouldn’t even try on Thanksgiving Day. Thanksgiving Day, forget about all of the skills, eat and celebrate, and be with people you love.
If you want a skill to practice on Thanksgiving Day, practice this one: Gratitude. Give thanks for your whole life, exactly as it is. For all the people you love and who love you. For all the great food.
What you eat one day doesn’t make much difference in gaining weight. The issue is when you turn it into a whole week, or even multiple weeks, of eating way more than normal. If Thanksgiving kicks off a five week free-for-all between now and New Years, then we’re going to get into trouble.
One Skill to Rock Before and After Thanksgiving
Before and after Thanksgiving, you should pick a skill you know you can rock in any situation, with any food, and in any company. A skill like eating slowly.
Practice eating slowly, and forget about all of the rest. Look, we know when people eat slowly, it’s easier for them to notice when they are full. But, on top of that, people also report that they enjoy their food more. It’s a double whammy of awesomeness. And, it pairs well with the days before and after Thanksgiving.
Take this crazy unusual week, and just rock one skill.
The path to disaster is trying to get all of the skills right this week. Instead, pick one you can win, and practice it. It’s more important to have something you can win at, to stay in the game for this week, than it is to try and white knuckle getting everything right.
So chill out, have some fun, and just practice eating slowly =)
A few different strategies for eating slowly:
- Don’t put a bite of food in your mouth while you are still chewing the last bite
- Put your fork down between bites
- Take a sip of water between bites
- Take smaller bites
- Talk and listen more
- Focus on all of the flavors in each bite, like the judges on the TV cooking competitions. Try to pick out all of the flavors in each bite.
I’ve had clients use strategies as unusual as using a bite timer app or eating with the fork in their non-dominant hand. That being said, the most popular strategy lately has been to just take a sip of water between bites.
It’s a remarkably effective and doable skill for a week that, for many, is a really tough nutrition week to figure out how to manage.
Having an amazing Thanksgiving can be as simple as practicing eating slowly on the days before and after Thanksgiving. You’ll eat less total food, you won’t gain weight, and you’ll enjoy your food more. On top of that, you’ll have a mental win, knowing you made a plan and you rocked your plan. It doesn’t get any better than that.
One by One Nutrition
P.S. Don’t forget about our Black Friday coaching sale coming up!