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Dietitian says its OK to enjoy food as diet season approaches

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During the holiday season, it's common to indulge in our favourite meals and sweet treats, and once the new year hits, many start to cut back their calories to compensate for holiday eating.

Dietitian Robin Glance says it's OK to enjoy food, especially this time of the year.

Glance calls herself an "anti-diet dietitian" and wants people to know that there's nothing wrong with eating for the joy of eating.

"We need to normalize that it's OK to eat sometimes solely for pleasure," she said. "We've been given this idea that we should make food choices based on what is healthy, but we are humans, and since the beginning of time, we've always celebrated around food."

Glance says food guilt in the days following the holidays is very common, but it's that sort of thinking that could be sabotaging your goals.

"I think when people approach the holidays with this black-and-white view of, 'Oh boy, I'm going to be so naughty, so bad, and I better not do this for long, and therefore, I'm going to be so much better in the new year.' We get this all or none mentality, which kind of makes us feel this urge to get it while we can," she said.

Her first tip in developing a healthier relationship with food is to break up with restrictions and start with adequacy.

"Are you eating three balanced meals, giving you plenty of fibre, nutrients from vegetables and fruits?" asked Glance. "Is there some protein there to fill you up, and some carbs, and yes, I said carbs. They are essential for your brain. If you're eating in a balanced kind of way, and not waiting too long to have a nice filling snack, chances are it will be so much easier to make good choices."

Part of making good choices is also allowing yourself to eat treats and truly enjoy them.

"It triggers this pleasure centre in us and causes a rush of feel good endorphins that can actually be positive and healthy regardless of what's in the food, so when we take away the shame and the stigma, we might be more likely to simply enjoy and get the full benefits," said Glance. 

And for anyone who may have a relative or friend questioning what's on their plate during a holiday gathering, Glance says, "Maybe let someone know you're trying to heal your relationship with food and that eating for joy and pleasure is wonderful. And that hearing those comments is creating a bit of distress. Do whatever you need to do to protect yourself from those triggering comments." 

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