Full, but not Stuffed
5 Actionable Tips to Help You Stick to Your Healthy Eating Habits During the Holidays.
Ah, the holiday season is upon us…
That glorious time of year when we’re surrounded by seemingly endless sweets and bountiful, creamy, carb-heavy foods. Which is a beautiful thing — abundance is something we can, and should, be incredibly grateful for. But I don’t think appreciating holiday abundance means we need to totally throw our healthy eating habits — the ones we’ve worked hard to cultivate all year — completely out the door.
The holidays are a time for enjoying the company of friends and family, a time of light in the physically darkest period in the northern hemisphere. Yet, in our modern world they can also be a time when we experience high degrees of stress and overwhelm. It becomes easy, and far too accessible, to find solace from that stress in cookies after the work party, or in that second helping of pumpkin pie.
Don’t get me wrong — I generally don’t think we need to be rigid about diets, and I certainly don’t believe in calorie counting. But I do believe in being vigilant of our own health, and eating to feel at our physical best, not slow and sluggish. We want to able to show up for our holiday gatherings feeling amazing, with vibrancy and generosity of spirit for our loved ones and our greater communities.
This is why I put together this list of five actionable tips on how to stick to your healthy eating mindset during this holiday season.
Eat protein with every meal. It’s common during this time of year to graze on appetizers and cheese boards at holiday parties, which can sometimes be several evenings during the week. The scenario is that you show up to the party hungry, and eat way more dairy and carb-heavy foods than your body is used to, and feel awful afterwards. The solution: find out ahead of time (if you can) what kind of meal will be served at the party — is it a full dinner, or heavy appetizers? We want to make sure we’re getting enough protein with each meal to curb the snacking, grazing impulse. Having prior knowledge gives you the opportunity to quickly eat a meal with protein before the party if you know there will just be appetizers served.
Watch your stress levels. Stop. And simplify. If you notice yourself getting anxious and overwhelmed, pause. Ask yourself — What would this look like if it were easy? What is one thing I can do to make this easier? What is one thing I can take off my plate? Simplify, simplify, simplify. Unmitigated stress is the fastest way to unhealthy eating, thus we want to be vigilant about managing it.
Keep up your exercise routine — schedule it in. This is not the time of year for ditching the exercise! Exercise is proven to help relieve stress, and also to improve your sleep. With a lot of commitments during this time you need to schedule it in your calendar. Once it’s written in there you’re far more likely to show up for it.
Watch your liquid diet. Count your drinks. If you partake in drinking alcohol at holiday parties, develop your own system for making sure you don’t overindulge. This might look like actually tallying your drinks on a paper napkin, or making sure to drink a big glass of water between drinks. Whenever possible ask for a smaller glass — you’re more likely to drink slower out of a smaller glass. Not only is alcohol empty calories, drinking also makes it much more likely that you’ll indulge in unhealthy foods you would normally turn down.
Re-read my blog post on mindful eating. Refresh yourself on these basic tenets for eating more mindfully. They can be applied anywhere — from eating by yourself at home, to being surrounded by crazy family at the Thanksgiving table!
I know I’ll be putting these tenets to use, and I’d love to know how it goes for you in the comments below!