“I can’t eat another bite.” [5 seconds later…] “Oh look, pie!”
– Everyone on Thanksgiving
The months of November and December are notorious for being challenging. With all the indulgent foods, sweets, and adult bevvies…temptation is everywhere. ALL. THE. TIME. The holidays can really derail even the most focused of individuals.
So I say, “Not this year holidays…not this year.”
So why even try during the holidays?
You may be thinking, “why even bother??” And I hear you. I promise, I do. But I have been on the other side of that attitude and I have worked with plenty of people on the other side of that as well. It’s not pretty. It’s not comfortable. And it definitely ends up not being actually any fun at all.
Did you know: It takes the average American roughly 5 months to get back to their pre-holiday health status.
That is nuts. Are you willing to let 8 weeks be a free-for-all in exchange for 20 weeks of struggling effort to get back on track??
Please say “no.”
Here are some other reasons you should create a plan for the holidays this year:
- Better sleep (and who couldn’t use more of that during the holidays??)
- Keep your gut health intact
- Less fatigue and more energy for an already stressful season
- Feel better about yourself, in general, but also come January 1
- Prevent weight gain
“But it’s only one day of the year!”
Get real with yourself on this one… is it really just one day? When you look at your calendar for the next 8 or so weeks, is there only one day where you will be presented with tempting festivities? For most, the answer to this question is a big, fat NO.
It’s never just one day, one party, one meal…in fact, it is more like a snowball…one day, one party, one meal after the other. So don’t allow yourself to slip into this mindset. Because that, my friends, is a slippery slope.
15 Strategies for healthier holiday eating
Check out the 15 tips and tricks below and decide on 2-3 that feel doable to you. Not all of them need to feel relevant and that is okay. Even just one upgrade will do well to make this holiday season a smidge healthier than previous years!
- Have a plan. Don’t wait until you are at the party, staring at a smorgasbord of apps, or right before the meal to make healthy decisions. It’s way too easy to get wrapped up in the festivities and just say “screw it.” Take some time that day or on the drive over to think about your approach and one or two of the upgrades below.
- Be choosy about when you indulge. Look at your party schedule in advance. If you have 6 parties in the line-up, decide which one or two that you will indulge at…maybe even get a little crazy? [Hey, we’ve got to be realistic here.] Maybe its the big shindig with your friends that you look forward to every year! For the others (like a midday work party…), make a plan to stay on track with any of the strategies below.
- Be choosy about what you indulge in. We all have our holidays favorites. Splurge on those rather than the other foods and sweets that are available all times of the year. If you are going to go for a full serving of stuffing, maybe forgo the mashed potatoes. Or have the slice of pumpkin pie, but skip the cookies. It’s all about being very selective about your indulgences.
- Fill HALF your plate with veggies FIRST. This is one of my absolute favorite strategies – at parties, restaurants, home, EVERYWHERE! Scan the inventory before you start filling you plate. Go for the veggies FIRST and have them take up the most real estate on your plate…or roughly half. And then go for the other more indulgent foods. You will be forced to automatically take less so you can try a few bites without committing to a plateful.
- Bring a healthy dish to pass. It makes it pretty easy to fill half your plate first with veggies if you know there is going to be some delish veggies available! If this isn’t 100% guaranteed, be your own backup plan and bring a healthy veggie dish to pass. And you will be doing the host/hostess a solid as well. WIN WIN.
- Tune into your hunger-fullness scale. This strategy can go with you anywhere, all you have to do is tune in. Read more about how to use your own hunger-fullness scale HERE.
- Skip the roll and filler carbs. These are just extras. And I’m pretty sure nobody on Thanksgiving morning is like, “damn, I am really looking forward to that roll at dinner today.” Nope. Just go for the veggies and the good stuff.
- Have a glass of water in between alcoholic beverages. I know that this one is easier said than done sometimes but it is so worth the effort. It can help to remediate the hangover and can help keep your mindfulness in check as often this goes out the window the more drinks we have.
- Go light on the gravy, sauces, and dressings. These can add up quickly and make the meal feel that much heavier. Not to mention these are often full of dairy, gluten, or cornstarch which can be irritating to the gut for many.
- Wait 10-15 minutes before going back for seconds. It takes our stomach roughly 10-20 minutes to signal to our brains that we have been fed and that we are indeed satisfied. Its easy to eat right past this so go slow, enjoy the meal, and engage in conversation to allow time for this checking in.
- …OR just don’t go back for seconds. Making this little guideline for yourself can help from overdoing in. Rarely do we actually NEED seconds, it’s more of a want factor. You could try just nipping this in the bud by going into the meal with a “no seconds” rule.
- Have a snack before you go to the party. Its pretty hard to moderate our plate, stick to a plan, and make smart choices if we are starvin’ Marvin.’ It may seem counterintuitive, but actually eating out having a snack 30-60 minutes before going to the party can make it easier to make smart choices when we are actually there.
- Follow the 3-bite rule for desserts. It usually doesn’t take much to cure a sweet tooth and enjoy the flavors of the season. Go small and really enjoy the hell out of your dessert…just do it in three bites 🙂
- Don’t have conversations around the snack/appetizer table. Keep tempting finger foods out of sight and out of mind! The more you linger, the more likely you are to keep picking at the tempting options.
- Don’t keep sweet treats or indulgent foods in the house. This can be a hard one, but try to keep foods that you can’t say “no” to out of the house. If you are making them and have extras, hide them away until you need to pull them out for the next party. Or maybe don’t make them and make something else instead? Just a thought. And if you are buying the treats to pass, by them the day-of and don’t bring home any leftovers!
Please don’t try to do all of these all at once! Choose two or three to run with and see how you do. You can always go back to the drawing board for the next party. The key is to make conscious, small upgrades.
Cheers to a happy & healthy holiday season!