The holidays are awesome. There are parties and great food, Christmas cookies and treats around every corner, and plenty of occasions for wine, eggnog or whatever is your cocktail of choice.
But the holidays are also hard. There are lots of parties and great food, Christmas cookies and treats around every corner, and plenty of occasions for wine, eggnog or whatever your cocktail of choice.
Nope, that wasn’t an accidental copy and paste. The holidays can be awesome and hard for the same reason. Food can be a positive and negative thing for some of us. I definitely feel a push and pull this time of year. I’ve gone through seasons of my life where my goal would be to try to abstain from holiday party calories as much as possible. But that’s really hard and no fun. For many people, when they try to be really restrictive, they tend to think/obsess about the forbidden food/drink even more and that’s a big holiday hum bug in my book. My goal now is to enjoy in moderation and even if my attempts at moderation fail, I just want to enjoy whatever it is (mmm…maybe frosted sugar cookies!) and nix the negative thoughts.
It’s a continuous journey.
On my food journey through the holidays this year, I have a new resource – or rather experience – to help guide my thoughts and internal struggles. It’s what I’m calling my “negative thought stopper.” Over Thanksgiving, we flew cross country to visit relatives and I brought a book, “The Rent Collector,” and a magazine, “Women’s Health.” Besides them both being bound pieces of paper, I didn’t think there was any connection between the book and magazine. But, I was wrong.
The “Rent Collector” is about an illiterate mom who lives in a dump. Literally. Her home – Stung Meanchey – is a trash dump in Cambodia, and she and her husband pick through trash, seeking metal or other recyclable scraps that can be sold to make money for the family. I won’t give away much more in case you want to read it (it’s worth your time), but during the book, the woman learns to read and has an experience that spoke to me. She says:
“I take a break from the books and thumb through a few of the glossy fashion magazines that I had Ki pull from the trash. I used to muse over the pictures, envy the beautiful women, and wonder about their lives. Now that I can actually read the words, I am amused. The teasers splashed across the covers say it all. ‘Seduce Your Man in the Kitchen.” I picture our one-room home and giggle. ‘Eat at Home and Save a Bundle.” I’ll keep that in mind. ‘Wear Your Best Dress to Work.’ Not a good idea at Stung Meanchey. And my all-time favorite: ‘Will Eating Starchy Rice Make You Fat?’ I glance down at my thin frame. Can they be serious?”
A few days after reading the above section in the book, I caught a glimpse of my Women’s Health magazine on the counter. The headlines shouted, “Big Joy” and “Hot Abs!” and I had a flashback to the passage from The Rent Collector. I had a realization that my “fears” are fortunes to someone else. I have the luxury of fearing holiday weight gain, because I have the means to buy food. Others don’t. I have the luxury of worrying about how a dress fits for my husband’s work holiday party, because my husband has a job and we have money to buy a new dress. Others don’t.
Now, I’m not advocating guilt as a tool for addressing body struggles. I’m using this experience as a negative-thought stopper and shifter. I’m working to shift my fears to feelings of good fortune. And shift any guilt from eating to gratitude.
Fears –> Feelings of Good Fortune.
Guilt –> Gratitude.
We’ll see how this goes 😉 As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’m on a journey. I don’t know if I’m always going in the right direction but I thank you for joining me along the way.
Have a happy and healthy holiday!
Amy (@belovedbody on Instagram)