Last week’s feature article “Stop Worrying About Holiday Eating—and Do This Instead” touches on three skills that can help you make the holidays (and every day) healthier and more enjoyable. These are Permission, Pleasure, and Presence.

By giving yourself permission to eat some of what you want you avoid feelings of deprivation. And as the article discusses, deprivation is the real danger. When you feel deprived your desire escalates. This is why it’s satisfying to eat one cookie when you want it but it takes a whole bag of cookies to get to satisfaction once a craving has developed.

Presence is the skill that keeps you in the moment. Presence allows you to slow down and ask yourself if you really want what you are eating. It allows you to fully experience eating – to smell, taste, and chew your food. Staying present also allows you to know when you’re becoming full, and to then make the right eating choices for yourself.

Pleasure is perhaps the most misunderstood of these three skills. We’ve come to equate healthy eating with pleasure-less eating. But this is false. Pleasure in eating is a necessity for health.

When you feel pleasure you want to stay present and you get the full value of giving yourself permission. You naturally slow down to enjoy the experience fully. Pleasure allows your body to relax and take a break from stress. And it’s only in the relaxed state that you can optimally digest and metabolize the nutrients eaten.

Additionally, you’re only going to stick with a way of eating if it’s giving you pleasure. Luckily modern nutritional science now includes fat, as well as protein and carbohydrate, within a healthy diet. Even carbohydrates such as white potatoes, pasta, and rice are now known to have benefits that were previously discounted. The bottom line is that delicious and healthy are no longer mutually exclusive.

These three skills work together to get you to the point of satisfaction. This is important because it’s only when you’ve gotten to the point of satisfaction that you will naturally stop eating. Over the long term you will learn that more won’t be better and thus you’ll know when you’ve had enough without the need for calorie counting or portion control. Cravings will decrease, overeating will become rare, and binges can become a thing of the past.

So, this holiday season add the skills of Permission, Pleasure, and Presence to keep you on track. As the article states in conclusion, “Giving yourself permission to eat some pie now can go a long way toward avoiding future overeating and binging. The healthiest thing can be to allow yourself to drop the guilt, step away from the battle, and eat what you want this Thanksgiving.” It’s good advice on holidays and every day.

Enjoy yourself this week wherever you are in the world. There won’t be new shares until after U.S. Thanksgiving.



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If you would like to understand the concept of emotion (as in what’s under your emotional eating) at a deeper level, join me in reading Love Sense – The Revolutionary New Science of Romantic Relationships by Dr. Sue Johnson. I’m also a big fan of her bestselling book Hold Me Tight, which presents a new approach to achieving closer relationships. Both books can help you understand the role of emotion in life and love, the dances we do in relationships, and how secure attachment is the basis for success. But most importantly these books can (seriously) save your marriage.

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