The holiday season has arrived. Along with the excitement and anticipation of celebrations we find ourselves surrounded by tempting food choices that we might not otherwise indulge in. For many these foods seem to bring out self-defeating negative statements. We tell ourselves things like, “I’m cheating” or “I’m so bad” or “I’m probably going to regret this.” Instead of feeding your mind with these negative thoughts consider making a mind shift. Focus on the company of the people you are gathered with, appreciate the setting, and feed yourself good foods and positive thoughts.
To help you stay on track and feel great while celebrating the season:
1. Eat breakfast: The most important meal of the day, often we’re tempted to skip breakfast so we’ll be “really hungry” when we get to that big meal or buffet. The roller-coaster effect on your blood sugar may cause you to overeat which adds to weight gain during the holidays. Chose a breakfast that is high in fiber and protein.
2. Eat before the party: Just as you want to be metabolically stable by eating breakfast, you want to have a small snack before the party to stave off any potential hunger that might lead you to make less desirable choices. Snack on something with a little protein like a handful of raw nuts.
3. Start off raw: When arriving at the party or event start by eating a salad or raw vegetables. These foods are high in fiber and very alkaline both of which are beneficial for your body. Just go easy on the creamy, fatty dressings by choosing healthier dressings such as vinaigrette or hummus.
4. Eat slowly: Savor your food and be mindful of what you are eating. The point of the party is to spend time with friends and family; to socialize rather than to stuff yourself. Eating quickly and mindlessly can lead to overeating; savoring your food and taking your time to eat will help prevent this.
5. Avoid sabotage: Frequently at family gatherings you may be encouraged to overeat the family food-pusher asks you to have “just one more” slice of pie, serving of casserole or whatever dish they are promoting. Learning to gently refuse seconds, thirds or more will help you feel better and avoid excess.
6. Size matters: If your host has different size plates available always choose the smaller one. You are more likely to finish your plate no matter what size it is. Using a smaller plate allows you to have more control over your portion sizes.
7. Beware of buffets: When presented with a large array of choices most of us tend to try to take “just a little bit” of everything on the buffet. The problem is that by the end of the buffet line your plate is overfull and you are more likely to overindulge. Successful buffet techniques include looking at the buffet first and choosing those items you really want to eat. Make sure that at least half of your plate is salads, if available, to help cut down on the foods with fatty, rich sauces. Also try to avoid going back for seconds.
8. Don’t deprive yourself: Moderation is key. Allowing yourself to have small tastes of certain foods, especially fatty, sugary desserts can help prevent a deprivation-induced binge. If you put a whole dessert on your plate you’ll be tempted to eat it. Instead cut it in half or quarters and have just those few bites on your plate.
9. Share the wealth: In addition to party invitations many people receive gifts of highly caloric foods like chocolate, candy, cookies, alcohol and more. Sharing them with office mates and others helps remove temptation.
10. Moderate your alcohol intake: alcohol has a lot of calories and can reduce the number of calories that you burn. Alcohol can also increase your appetite, once again leading to overindulgence. To avoid this (and a potential hangover) limit the number of alcoholic drinks and alternate each one with water or sparkling water.
With a little preparation you can successfully make it through the holiday season without regret. Happy Holidays and be well.
Thanks to my friend Melanie Dawson who blogs at Cultivate Wellness for the graphic