The Holidays are a time for fun, family, friends* and ….. FOOD! For many of us, the self-discipline that has gotten us through the rest of the year seems to magically run out or undergo severe testing during the last few weeks of the year. There are parties around every corner and along with them food temptations galore. Let’s talk about a few ways that we can stay on track with our nutrition goals throughout the holiday season.
Load up on the good stuff.
While most holiday meals and parties have plenty of sweets and treats lying around, there is also plenty of good stuff to choose from too. Try to fill your plate up with meat, vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds. The more good stuff you have on your plate, the less room you have for the not so good stuff. Try to avoid things like processed carbs - bread, pasta, sugary treats…
Take your own healthy food.
Most holiday meals are a group effort - everyone brings something. You get to choose what you bring, or what you put in what you bring. Take a healthy option that you love so that you can fill your plate with that, instead of all the other less healthy options. If you are assigned an “unhealthy” item, then make the best possible version of it that you can - switch out processed ingredients for healthier substitutes. If you are truly worried about whether or not there will be any healthy options to choose from, then just go ahead and pack a whole meal and take it with you, or eat before you go. While some people may give you a hard time for this, your health is your responsibility and their opinion doesn’t matter when it comes to your quality of life.
Go in with a game plan.
One of the hardest parts about eating healthy is the emotional toll that saying, “no” over and over again can cause. Over time, our will power wanes and we often give in. I’ve learned that if I make my mind up on what I will and will not allow ahead of time - and stick to it - then it’s much less exhausting to stay the course. Decide before you even go to a holiday meal or party what you will and will not eat. Then all you have to do is stick to it. There is no need to play the back and forth game of “should I or should I not”. Go in with a game plan and enjoy the party without having an internal battle raging all night.
This last tip might shock you. But as your nutrition coach, I am going to encourage you to enjoy some tasty food this holiday season! When it comes to nutrition, what we’re looking for is balance, not perfection. No one can be perfect all of the time. And no one can turn down Grandma’s famous Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie… Allow yourself to enjoy some of the things you love, without going “hog wild”. Take small portions - this isn’t a binge. Enjoy the things you love for one meal, but don’t take home leftovers that will cause you to eat that way for days. Once again, it’s all about balance. There is nothing wrong with enjoying a treat meal every once in a while, just don’t make it an ongoing thing.
The holidays are supposed to be a time that we enjoy the good things in life and reflect on what we are thankful for. Not a time that stresses us out and makes us sick. Following the above tips can help keep you happy and healthy, and help you focus on more important things than, “Am I going to eat one more roll?”
*Check out last week’s blog to see how you can keep fitness a part of this list too!