The holidays are a magical time of year, surrounded by the ones we love, family and friends, celebrating the blessings of our lives. During the holidays, we celebrate with parties, traditions, each other, and food. We go out of our way to make traditional recipes just for the holidays, like grandma’s butter sugar cookies and uncle’s deep fried turkey. We think, “It’s tradition, I have to eat it” or “It’s okay, I only eat it once a year.” We make up excuse after excuse to indulge and then beat ourselves up when the number on the scale tips too far to the right.
If you’re like me, and want to avoid the weight gain and regret of the holidays, follow these 10 tips for healthy eating, and avoid overeating this year. Be reasonable with yourself and don’t try to lose weight this holiday season, but instead maintain your weight. With these tips, I have found that I can still indulge in the deliciousness of the holidays, eat sensibly and not pack on the pounds or the regret. Committed to my health, I have maintained my goal weight (80 pound loss) for three holiday seasons in a row, and for that I’m very thankful!
- Slow down. This holiday season, let go of the need to rush to the next thing and set a slower speed. Arrive to your party, get settled, make the rounds and check out the food, rather than rushing to get a plate. Inspect all of the food selections before you commit. Be a food snob and notice the yummy, holiday rarities, especially your favorites. Grab a plate; select your favorite items in sensible portion sizes, and skip the items that don’t look as good or that you can get anytime of year. Load up on veggies to add fiber, aid in digestion and balance out your plate.
- Practice mindful eating. Once you choose your holiday meal, find a comfortable seat, relax, come into the present moment and practice mindfulness. Notice how the food looks on your plate; notice the colors and textures. Notice how the food smells as you bring it close to your mouth. Notice how the food feels and tastes as you chew. Chew slowly and savor every bite. Take small bites and eat to satisfaction and avoid seconds and thirds.
- Don’t skip meals. If you don’t eat all day, you’ll get hungry and most likely over-indulge when it’s time to eat. Grab a handful of nuts or some raw veggies to fill up sensibly before a big meal. To curb hunger, drink a glass of water. It will fill you up and aid in digestion.
- Notice what you’re drinking. Drinking alcohol during the holidays can not only increase calorie intake, but also impair your ability to notice when you’re full. Sugary drinks also assist in adding unnecessary calories. Instead, drink water with freshly squeezed lemon or lime.
- Don’t hang around the cookie table. Find conversation away from the desserts to lessen your chances of over-indulging. Scope out the dessert table and notice all of the delicious desserts that are available. Choose one treat, find a seat and mindfully enjoy it. End the meal with a cup of decaffeinated tea to boost metabolism, assist digestion and eliminate the need for more dessert or mindless snacking as you move away from temptations.
- Participate in holiday activities that don’t involve food. Get a group together to toss a football, go sledding, build a snowman or play a board game, cards or charades.
- Get moving! If you’re feeling tired after your meal, rather than lying down to take a nap, get outside for some fresh air and go for a walk. The after-dinner nap on Thanksgiving isn’t from tryptophan in turkey; it’s caused by overeating. When you overeat, all of your body’s energy goes to digestion, leaving you looking for the nearest spot to take a nap. Instead, witness the magic of the holiday with someone special or take this time for yourself, to digest and burn off some calories. Movement will boost your metabolism, aid in digestion, relieve stress and boost energy.
- Bring your own healthy side dish. Share the gift of health with family and friends by preparing your own healthy food. Because you don’t always know the ingredients or calories of a food, eliminate the need to guess and bring a dish that you already made with health in mind.
- What am I really hungry for? Avoid eating from a place of stress. The holidays can be a stressful time. We all have relatives or friends that trigger us, kicking up anger, anxiety, frustration, and stress. Before turning to the dessert table to stuff down these feelings, make sure you ask yourself “what am I really hungry for?”
- Don’t set unrealistic expectations. Feel free to celebrate the holiday and eat the foods you love, while mindfully not overindulging. Don’t deprive yourself this holiday season or over-eat; find a healthy, happy in-between. Love yourself completely and mindfully fill yourself with nurturing food. After all, good health will always be something to be grateful for!
May your holiday be filled with peace, gratitude, abundance, boundless joy and love.
May you and your family be healthy, happy, and at ease.