It is about to be the most wonderful time of the year! It is also the time of year where “health” coaches promote their challenges, plans, and programs in full force. In addition to these messages, we are also bombarded with “tips” such as: “to burn off _____ you need to do ____ squats/burpees/sprints”. Food is not a number of calories you need to “burn off”. This holiday season, shift the focus to the fun holiday activities instead! Holiday’s (and every day), should be about enjoying time with your family and friends. They are NOT about worrying about the calories in whatever snack or meal you are having! You don’t need to burn off your food and here’s why:
We often hear food referred to as fuel, something that it is to be used up or burned. While your body DOES need food to survive, food is not only “fuel”. Food is connection, enjoyment, love, culture, tradition and so much more. The focus of holiday activities should be about connecting with the people you love. However, enjoying the moment is difficult when you are constantly worried about how to “burn off” the food you are eating. Food is a way to socialize and connect with those around you. Whether it’s going out to dinner with friends or sharing cookies with family, food is more than just “fuel”. It is time to stop thinking that what you eat is just “fuel” and to start seeing the bigger picture and making those important memories.
Without getting into the biochemistry of your body, your body knows exactly what to do with the food you consume. Your body puts the food you eat, even if it’s something “unhealthy”, to good use for energy, body functions, and cell repair. Your body is smarter than you think. No matter how hard you try to “burn off” food you ate, it will know you are trying to manipulate it. The body’s natural response to this manipulation will be to ask for more food. In the long run, this can start a dangerous cycle and can lead to feelings of mistrust. Instead of focusing on how to “burn off” the food you consume, start asking yourself if you are properly fueling your body with enough nutrients!
When you take the calories out of exercise it becomes fun. You no longer feel like you NEED to be doing it. It no longer feels like a chore! You can enjoy how exercise makes you feel and you realize that the benefits are not all related to physical appearance. In fact, the benefits that aren’t related to how you look are far more important than trying to make your body smaller.
Being able to ask yourself, “What kind of exercise do I want to do today?”, is much better than wondering what kind of exercise will burn off the most calories. Becoming an intuitive exerciser can be a long, hard process, especially in a world where diet culture is so prominent. It can be a tough battle to listen to yourself, but your body will thank you! For tips on how to become an intuitive eater read one of our latest blog posts: https://expertnutritionandwellness.com/2021/08/31/how-to-go-from-athlete-to-intuitive-exercise/
This holiday season, live in the moment. Enjoy the company of others and the holiday activities and traditions that you love. Don’t feel guilty for enjoying your favourite foods. Don’t worry about “making up for it” or “burning it off”. Try to remember the true meaning of the holidays and how food can play a special role in our celebrations and connections with others.
Do you feel like you may need more support this holiday season? Feel free to connect with one of our non-diet dietitians for one-on-one guidance. You deserve food freedom and to fully enjoy the holidays!