HOLIDAY EATING SURVIVAL TIPS
Holidays are a favorite time of the year for many people and there’s no wonder why! The parties, the festive atmosphere, spending time with loved ones, and the delectable dishes and goodies that are never more than a stone’s throw away. But wait! You have adopted a lifestyle based around healthy eating of anti-inflammatory, whole foods and juicing. Or, you’ve at least started to be more mindful of your eating habits and don’t want to fall back into old patterns. How will you ever be able to sit down to a holiday with family and friends who haven’t?
Not to worry! Whether you are preparing the meal or simply an honored guest, there are several strategies that can be employed to navigate holiday tables with ease. Broken down into 3 categories, these 12 tips will empower you to stay in control while enjoying the holidays without stress.
GET YOUR MIND RIGHT
- Food ranks among the top reasons people love holidays, but it is not the only reason. Focus on the other aspects of the holidays that make them enjoyable like spending time with loved ones, volunteering or donating to a worthy cause, or making time to express gratitude. All of these activities are food for the soul and will not give you indigestion the next day!
- Set your intentions and visualize yourself effortlessly making it through the day in a way that will make you feel good about yourself and what you were able to accomplish. Envision the day in as much detail as possible so that when you are actually present at the dinner table, your mind will already have a path to follow and won’t have to stop and make decisions.
- Mentally prepare for the questions and comments that will invariably happen when you choose to eat according to your new lifestyle. Prepare responses that will empower you to continue doing what is best for you. Don’t involve yourself in what others believe holiday eating should look like.
- Remember that the holiday is 1 DAY ONLY!! Enjoy the day and be prepared to go back to your regularly scheduled program on the following day. Avoid leftovers that cannot be repurposed in a healthy way that fits your current eating habits. In other words, leave the pies, stuffing and pound cakes where you found them! Also treat the holiday meal as one meal. Make sure that you eat your regular meals and snacks throughout the day prior to eating your holiday meal. No more starving all day to make room for more later.
- If you are preparing the meal, research healthier options. There are simple substitutions that can be made in most recipes to upgrade the nutrition profile. If you are daring enough, why not try out totally new recipes while you have willing (some may say unknowing) subjects who are already programmed to chow down on whatever is in front of them?
- Basics, basics, basics. Classic tips for not overeating still apply during the holiday. Drink at least 20 oz. of water immediately prior to eating. Use smaller plates to encourage proper portion sizes. Chew your food for 20-30 bites. Eat until you are 80% full and give yourself 20 min. before going back for seconds. These steps are multi-taskers in that they encourage you to eat less and also make digesting what you do eat easier. Win-win!!
- If you are not preparing the meal and are concerned about having food you can eat, bring it along as a dish for the meal. This will alleviate any stress you have about making good choices and will enable others to experience what you’ve been eating to look and feel so good! You know they will want to know!
- Practice mindful eating and compose your plate accordingly. Consume a half plate of non-starchy veggies, an open palm full of lean protein, and one cupped palm of a healthy carbohydrate. Use gravies and sauces minimally, or prepare your own healthy condiments to bring along with you.
- This is simple. Are you ready? Just MOVE! Plan to get in a good workout or a brisk walk prior to sitting down to eat. Depleting muscle energy stores prior to sitting down to a holiday dinner is a good way to keep the body from storing that meal as fat. Do your body a solid and give it somewhere to put that extra energy.
- After eating, get up from the table and move away from the food. No need to test your will power by sitting in front of temptation. The old adage out of sight, out of mind applies to holiday tables as well as terrible exes!
- This one may be a little more difficult to grasp, but try. Go MOVE again! A leisurely walk, dancing, or playing a game with the kids after dinner make up what I call the Mind-Behind connection. They will keep your mind off food and keep your behind off the couch.
- Go to bed. Getting a good night’s rest is an under-utilized weapon in the arsenal of holiday survival tools. Besides being a fool-proof way to avoid late night snacking, 7-8 hours of sleep will allow your body to properly digest what you have eaten and will also provide you with the energy necessary to get back to your pre-holiday workout routine.
Now that you are equipped with holiday survival tools, you are more than ready to handle any situation that may arise. If for any reason, you should eat something that is not part of your new dietary habits, no worries. Because you know that it is only 1 meal on 1 day, the damage will be kept to a minimum. So go forth and be merry and enjoy the holidays as they were meant to be!