When you first start to adopt a healthier eating lifestyle, one of the most likely times for poor eating choices are centered around the dreaded HOLIDAY SEASON.
Emotions that can come with the Holidays, both good and bad, can be a trigger for overeating.
How about stress? Unless your life is like a Norman Rockwell painting, there is always SOME type of stress to be found when multiple people gather in one place. (Maybe just one – or two! – more glasses of wine. Possibly a cookie??)
The “no-time” factor also plays a significant role. Planning, prepping, and then actually sitting down to eat when you are hosting a Holiday Gathering can lead to undereating at the right times and then poor meal choices when you DO get to finally eat. I’m exhausted just thinking about it!
And let’s not forget the FOOD…. Oh, the FOOD itself is…. So decadent, rich, and delicious. Whether you’re watching your carbs, calories, or fat intake; a buffet table can seem like a landmine to your waistline.
So, what do you do?
First, don’t panic. It’s ONE DAY. The Holidays are MEANT to be enjoyed. There are approximately 11 National Holidays in a calendar year. Even if you over indulge at every Holiday, you are only at 3% of a 365-day year. So, don’t let one day ruin all you have accomplished so far.
Second, PLAN. This can mean different things to different people.
Maybe you host the Holiday, so you can have complete control of the menu?
Maybe you offer to bring a few dishes that are specific to your intake needs to an event, so you KNOW you can stay on track?
Maybe you allow yourself “free reign” at meal time, but skip dessert – Or, vice versa? (No judging!)
Maybe you allow food calories/carbs and limit non-nutritional or “empty” calories like alcohol?
Whatever you decide to do, sit down a few days ahead of the Holiday and decide on a plan that BEST suits your physical and emotional needs. Because if you severely limit yourself, or face the day without a plan that makes you happy, you are more likely to overeat before and after the Holiday is over.
While I typically follow an 80/20 eating plan, I do have a few things that I like to do when faced with one my favorite eating Holidays:
Pre-prep some quick and easy meals to have on hand for the days before the Holiday, so I’m not tempted to not eat, or grab less healthy options. Especially if I am hosting and cooking for a large group. I tend to get lost in the preparation phase and I want to be sure I eat regularly. I go for lean proteins and lots of fresh veggies. ** Hello Fresh has been SO helpful and convenient in helping me stay on track, especially when I have a hectic schedule.
If I’m not hosting, I offer to bring one or two dishes to the event that I know myself and my family will love. This way I can make a few healthy choices along with some of my favorite choices. Balance!
I prefer food calories to alcohol calories, so I always bring a low-calorie seltzer drink with me to any event. If I do decide to have a glass of wine, I limit it to one. Especially because I WILL eat that yummy Holiday dessert!
HYDRATE. YUP! Drink lots and lots of water before, during, and after the Holidays…. It’s the best way to stave off hunger and detox your body.
Third, be KIND TO YOURSELF. If you decide to go all out on the Holiday and over-indulge, don’t beat yourself up over it the next day... and DON'T step on that scale. All it will do is create more havoc and it's is not a true reflection of your weight or your efforts. (I can fluctuate up to 6 lbs in ONE DAY. More on that in another blog.) Punishing yourself with thoughts and words only leads to punishing yourself with actions. Don’t be your own worst enemy! Take a breather, go for a walk, celebrate the day, LOVE yourself, and break the cycle of damaging behavior.
Remember…. This is NOT a diet, it’s a lifestyle change. You’ve got this!