Four tips for navigating Cupid’s sweet treats

By Jenni Wolf

It’s the month of love!

And, also a month that is often filled with sweet treats, boxes of chocolates and rich desserts to celebrate. Who wouldn’t love that?

However, because we live in a society ridden with diet culture beliefs and rigid expectations about what “healthy” eating looks like, you might feel the need to limit or monitor how much and how often you indulge, something that can induce anxiety, judgment and, worst of all, steal away the joy of the moment.

At the same time, no one wants to feel sick from one-too-many chocolate bonbons or being out-of-control around the M&Ms bowl.

Read below for a few tips to help you freely enjoy all the sweet treats this season without going overboard or feeling guilty.

Question yourself—in a good way! Ask yourself how you’d like to engage with food and how you have engaged with it in the past.

Taking some time to ponder these things at the start of a season where we may expect new or special food experiences can help you to incorporate mindfulness and reduce mindless eating.

Often we want to taste a food—to really enjoy it, take time to appreciate it and maybe even share it with someone else as a way to connect. We also usually want to stop eating when we’ve had enough so that we can continue to enjoy it the next time we notice hunger or desire.

Keeping these things in mind can help guide you to make food choices that honor your authentic self and support you in feeling well.

Establish loving limits. If you’ve read any of my other columns you know I am not a fan of restricting yourself when it comes to food.

When we restrict a food, we give power to that food and often only desire it more that, in turn, increases the likelihood of overeating or binging.

Instead of restricting yourself to two chocolates per day as a way to “control” yourself, think about setting a guideline or limit that comes from a place of loving or caring for yourself, rather than controlling.

That might sound something like “Before eating a chocolate I will check in with myself to see how many sound good to me. If I want more, I will allow myself to have more, but I will stop after five as I know eating that many at once does not make me feel well.”

Eat regular meals and snacks. This will help to make sure you aren’t letting yourself get too hungry throughout the day and will support you in getting in a wide variety of foods for a balanced intake.

As much as your body might enjoy chocolate, it knows it will not feel its best eating only chocolate and that it wants things like fruits, veggies, whole grains, fats and proteins too, to feel nourished and satisfied. When you spend more of your day feeling satisfied with food, you will be less likely to feel the urge or need to seek that missing satisfaction by diving into the cake pan or candy jar.

Give yourself unconditional permission to eat. Why yes, food is fuel and nutrition, absolutely. But it is also joy, fun, celebration, connection, love and a host of many other things. We don’t need a specific reason to eat and we don’t need to earn food.

Instead, we need to tune into our bodies: to connect to and trust the wisdom that they, along with our minds, provide us when making food decisions to support our well-being.

Happy hearts day! I hope you can lovingly enjoy all the sweet treats this year! 

Jenni Wolf lives in the Como neighborhood and is a practicing, registered dietitian who is passionate about helping others nourish a positive and balanced relationship with food.

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