The holidays can be a challenging time for even the healthiest of eaters. Between holiday parties, decadent meals, and desserts being shared at the office on an almost daily basis, it can be challenging to eat your best when temptation lurks around every corner.
Not to mention, watching what you eat is probably the last thing you want to do this time of year. After all, you might miss out on some of your favorite seasonal treats and stand out for making different choices than the rest of your family, friends, or coworkers.
So if you find yourself wondering what to do, don’t worry – you’re not alone! And the good news is that with a few simple modifications to your holiday agenda, you can not only survive, but thrive at each holiday party with very few people even noticing the difference.
Set the tone. This holiday season, set the tone of health for yourself. This means making a conscious effort to give it your all – no matter what. Having a positive outlook and confident mindset can really start you off on the right foot. You may also be able to identify opportunities to share healthier foods or ideas with those around you. Odds are if you are excited about it, they will be too. Who knows? Maybe you’ll start a healthy holiday revolution?
Direct the conversation. Since food is often at the center of most holiday get-togethers, it is easy to get swept up in the food-centric conversations happening around us. Although there is nothing wrong with enjoying the foods offered, for many, these food conversations can lead to anxiety, guilt, and shame. So don’t get caught in the food conversation trap. If someone tries to make you feel bad about the choices you are making that day, let them know tit’s not easy trying to improve the way you eat and that you could use some support. Or consider writing down a few reasons you’re focused on eating healthier this season and why those reasons are important. Use this list to keep yourself on track and to prevent any inquisitive glances or negative comments get you down.
Give yourself permission to eat the foods you love; and permission to pass on those you don’t. It is okay to eat dessert! It is okay to eat dessert! There, I said it. Eating healthy is not synonymous with deprivation. In fact, healthy eating should be just the opposite. It should be about finding a healthy balance with a variety of foods so that you can feel your best and love each and every food moment. It’s about feeling nourished and empowered, and I don’t know about you, but giving up foods I love just seems like a miserable idea; especially on Christmas. Instead, savor those foods and thoroughly enjoy each bite. By taking those foods off your “no eat” list, you may even find that you don’t need to eat a lot to enjoy it.
Don’t be afraid to pass on foods you don’t love either. Take mental inventory of the foods available at each holiday gathering you attend. How would you categorize these foods? Which ones do you love, like, or despise? You don’t need to eat those foods that fall on the like or despise list – no thank you bites really aren’t required here.
Keep your meal pattern consistent. Another tempting strategy for dealing with holiday events is to skip earlier meals completely. Although this may seem like a wise decision since it appears as though you’re “saving up calories,” its usually a recipe for disaster. Why? Attending any meal or food-related event on an empty stomach puts us in a vulnerable state. Instead of making empowered, nourishing decisions, we tend to make decisions out of hunger when we’re overly hungry. Instead, eat non-holiday meals as you normally would. This can also help ensure that your meal plan is more nutritionally adequate no matter what happens at your holiday event.
Show yourself, and others, some compassion. Or in other words, don’t be too hard on yourself or those around you. Since “perfect eating” doesn’t exist, don’t expect to get the exact amount of nutrients your body needs in at your holiday meal, or perhaps even more importantly, don’t look back and think you got nothing in but junk. Neither of those statements could possibly be true in real life situations. Instead, focus on the small positive actions you took and celebrate them. Nothing else matters. Also, be sure to show your fellow party guests the same compassion. They may not be at the same place as you when it comes to how they eat and they may not know how to appropriately navigate through situations or conversations with someone making an effort to eat their best. If negative or hurtful comments occur because of this remember that this may be new for them too, and odds are that what they say is really more about them and how they’re feeling than it is about you.
Hopefully, by implementing a few of these tips, you’ll not only have your healthiest holiday, but your happiest holiday too!
What are your top tips for eating your best throughout the holidays? Share in the comments!