The shortbread cookies won’t get you. It’s what you THINK about the shortbread cookies that can turn holiday eating from festive to fearful. It’s easy to slip into Full Catastrophe Thinking over the holidays when food is aplenty!
I know what turning a couple extra cookies into a major catastrophe can do – it can turn to 20 in the blink of an eye (or passing of a fear-based thought).
I’d have more than I felt good about, maybe having four instead of two. Fear of gaining weight, shame over losing control and plans for depriving myself to “make up for” it were instant. The stress and disappointment were huge and impacted the quality of my life and holiday for sure.
How to Recognize Full Catastrophe Thinking and All Or Nothing Thinking
It might sound something like this, “OMG I can’t control myself”, “now I HAVE to skip supper and I’ll be starving”, “I’m going to be SO FAT tomorrow”, “there’s NO WAY I can go out for dinner this weekend, I BLEW IT and now my whole weekend is RUINED”.
This led straight into All Or Nothing Thinking – Full Catastrophe’s destructive cousin. Since it’s ruined (because I ate two extra cookies) I’m going to eat it all (another 20 cookies) because I can’t have them anymore (stricter diet starts tomorrow). I’m going to throw in eggnog, pizza and ice cream too (because I ain’t seein’ these in my foreseeable future).
It made sense in my head in that moment of stress, disappointment, fear and shame. Mostly because it meant more deprivation, another diet. And then one day (after practice) it just didn’t make sense anymore. And it wasn’t worth the stress.
Hitting The Brakes - Gentle and Realistic Thinking
Two extra cookies or even a full day of indulgence was no longer an emergency in my brain. It wasn’t overnight, but as my thinking became gentler and more realistic I was able to really learn to trust my body and mindful eating.
It sounded something like this, “Oops, no big deal. I’ll wait to eat until I’m hungry. I’ll see, I might choose a little lighter if I’m not that hungry. It’ll work out if I just relax and carry on.” A “major” I overdid it became, “No worries, if I don’t diet and get right back to mindful eating it’ll balance out in a couple weeks”.
How This Can Help You – An Invitation To Experiment
This festive season consciously pay attention to your thoughts around certain foods, events or “slips”.
Pay extra close attention if you feel anxious, fearful or ashamed before or after eating or drinking.
Replace Full Catastrophe and All Or Nothing thoughts with gentle and realistic thoughts:
Catastrophic & All or Nothing
Gentle and Realistic
Get it all while you can, you can lose it in January / I can have desserts anytime I want when I eat mindfully
I refuse to gain one ounce this year / I’ll eat mindfully like I always do and if I gain a couple pounds it will balance out as the season passes
It’s all ruined, I ate way more than I was supposed to / Did I really ruin everything? I’ll go right back to eating mindfully and it will balance out as I naturally gravitate towards nourishing choices
I didn’t have time to work out today, I’m skipping the potluck / Why can’t I go to the potlock if I eat mindfully? Given that I was less active I’ll likely be less hungry, I’ll be mindful of this and notice how hungry I am
I shouldn’t have eaten that, I may as well have it all / I regret having that but it’s okay, I’ll stop there and know for next time that I didn’t feel peaceful after eating that/that much
It’s not only the Grinch that will gladly steal the joy from your holidays – left unchecked your thoughts can do the same! Choose peaceful thoughts and gift yourself the gift of enjoying the holidays and holiday food mindfully.
Remember your intention to feel better after eating and drinking than you did before.