Trick or Treat
Another festive season is here (and the stores are already in Christmas mode). These days our holidays seem to roll into each other – Thanksgiving, Hallowe'en, Christmas, Valentine's Day, Easter, Canada Day, birthdays in there somewhere, and perhaps anniversary celebrations too. This means the commercial world is constantly tempting us with seasonal foods and beverages. There are large displays when you walk in the store or go through the check-out and it gets harder and harder to ignore them.
While many people do enjoy chocolate and candy, it's too bad that has become our way of celebrating. I often encourage people to be creative – start a Thanksgiving football game, go sledding on Christmas Day, make creative crafts and have fun with food – use vegetables to make scary snacks or cut them into fun shapes that are seasonally appropriate. Yes, food is a large part of our culture, and yes, food does taste good, but we seem to have taken it too far. We enjoy the “treats" or fall into the marketing traps too often.
You can use the concept of mindful eating to enjoy a few treats and perhaps play a few tricks on yourself. Books such as Mindless Eating (Brian Wansink) and the Power of Habit (Charles Duhigg) offer suggestions and insight into the food choices we make each day (often without knowing it).
Treats can be enjoyed in moderation – but that brings us back to how you define moderation. I even push further and ask how you define “treat" – I would prefer that a treat was something beneficial to our health. Treat yourself to blueberries for dessert; treat yourself to a walk in the park when you're stressed, etc. However, from a young age, the treats are the chips, chocolate, and candy, which puts them in a different light and changes our perception of them. What is a treat to you?
As far as tricks go, there are many things we can do to reduce our intake.
- Use a smaller plate or glass (you'll still feel satisfied because it looks more full)
- Have 1/2 your meal wrapped up before you even see it (so you don't eat it just because it's there)
- Leave out the wrappers from the Hallowe'en bars that you do eat (the evidence will remind you that you've already consumed them)
- Put the bag of chips in a closet downstairs so that it takes effort to go get them when you're having a craving (out of sight, out of mind)
- Reorganize the fridge and panty so that healthy items are the first ones you see
- And so on,
Rethink your holidays and reflect again on how you're defining words like treat and moderation.