“The most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently.” ~ Pema Chodron

Fall is here!

And with Fall comes the ‘Feeding Frenzy.’

Beginning with Halloween, we find ourselves on the precipice of what can be a very challenging time for many of us: the holiday season. Those big bowls of leftover trick-or-treating candy. Thanksgiving pies and stuffing. Christmas parties with cookies and Jell-O molds. Decadent New Year’s meals. It can feel like an endless bombardment of temptation!

Now, there is nothing wrong with indulging in traditional food to celebrate with family and friends.

With the constant presence of processed foods, however, it feels more like getting swept up in a tsunami than making the choice to dip our toes in the water.

The good news is that we don’t have to drown in this sea of food. Moving into this season with a game plan helps us remember that we always have a choice about what we put into our bodies.

Every good choice we make – whether it is to pass up a brownie or to enjoy a favorite cookie with a loved one – is an act of self-love.

My student Kris shared the following strategy with me, and I want to pass it along to all of you who are looking for guidance over the next few months. I am constantly amazed by the incredible efforts of my students, and I’m honored by their willingness to share their struggles and successes with me.

Thank you, Kris!

The No-Dessert Family Challenge

Over the past six months, I have been working to eliminate sweets from my diet. I feel so much better, more alert, calmer, and happier when I don’t eat sweets. Consequently, I started thinking about how I could wean the rest of my family off of sweets, including my two sons, ages 7 and 10. We had instituted a “one dessert per day” policy in our family years ago, so that once-a-day treat was deeply ingrained in my boys. I feared that changing this routine would result in huge push-back and lots of complaints from the boys. 

When talking with my amazing coach, Laura Fenamore, she suggested that I present this change as an adventure or a challenge to my family. After consulting with my husband (who bought into the idea immediately), we decided to present it as a family challenge with some rewards to be earned. The boys (and my husband!) really wanted a couple of video game accessories, so we decided to use those as rewards for the end of the first and second week of the challenge. The reward for the end of the first month was to go to either a trampoline arena or a water park. 

With these rewards in our back pocket, as well as some research facts about the effects of sugar on our bodies (for my 10-year-old budding scientist), my husband and I presented the family challenge to our boys in an upbeat, excited tone. The boys bought in immediately! They did have some questions (what about birthday parties and other special occasions?), but otherwise they were eager to take on the challenge. They even asked, if we succeeded for a whole year, if we could take a cruise to Alaska!  (I didn’t see that coming!)

We are three weeks into the challenge, and the boys have only mentioned missing desserts twice.  (This is shocking to me!)  One of the interesting and unexpected outcomes of this change is how much more healthy food the boys are eating.  I hadn’t realized that, without dessert, the boys would eat more good food. It feels great to know that they are getting so much more nutritious food in them! 

It’s been a great learning experience to see that approaching changes in our family with a sense of adventure and challenge can produce such amazing results!

You can choose! You have a choice!

I love how Kris handled this situation. First of all, she set clear limits that were easy to follow (no dessert). She was able to involve the whole family, which not only makes it easier for her to stay on track, but also improves the health of her loved ones. She substituted non-food rewards as a way to practice self-love. And she also allowed for select special occasions, like parties, when she and her family could choose to have sweets.

Don’t worry – I’m not suggesting you NEVER eat dessert again.

Take whatever pieces of this approach work for your unique needs.

Having a plan of action, whatever it is, will help you take back your power during these trying months. Feeling in control will help you approach any party or holiday dinner with your self-care and self-love in mind!

CAUTION: Deprivation generally leads to backsliding. If eating healthier leaves you feeling deprived, get creative.

Find ways to feel like you’re still treating yourself. If cutting sweets out entirely feels like a prison sentence, set yourself limits and boundaries. And always remember – these choices are in service of your health and your best self.

I welcome your feedback and questions and wish you a fall and holiday season that is joyful and guilt-free!

Laura Fenamore, Body Image Expert, Coach and acclaimed Author is on a mission to help women around the world end the constant battle with their bodies and start adoring who they see in the mirror. Her approach walks students and readers through the heartfelt journey to self-love at any size or age by unlocking the secrets to a lifetime of emotional, physical and spiritual health. After overcoming a lifelong battle with addiction, obesity, and eating disorders, Laura released 100 pounds – keeping it off for more than 28 years. She chronicles this journey to self-love and health in her widely acclaimed book, Skinny, Fat, Perfect: Love Who You See in the Mirror. Learn more about Laura’s programs, or invite her to speak by visiting SkinnyFatPertect.com.