Thanksgiving is over. The holidays are here. It’s official.
You are going to see articles about eating healthy and how to avoid overindulging this holiday season. I can almost rehearse the tips: Avoid creamy sauces, choose fruit for dessert, and cut calories where you can.
I don’t like “eat-healthy-during-the-holidays” advice because it feeds the illusion that people can’t trust themselves with food. And when people hear something enough, they start believing it.
So while I won’t tell you to eat healthy, I do have some advice about getting through the holiday season.
1. It’s a good time to evaluate your eating
If you feel like overeating and indulging all season long, it may be a sign that your relationship with food needs some work.
I used to this exact thing: look for an excuse to eat food that I thought didn’t belong in my diet. Whether it was a vacation, the holidays or the weekend, those were times I was “allowed” (and stuffed myself with) less-than-nutritious foods.
I believe this is an overlooked culprit to overeating and weight problems. People go back and forth between eating healthy and indulging. If they could live happily somewhere in the middle– and listen to their hunger and fullness — their desire to overindulge would decrease.
2. Go for the balance
Rather than eat healthy, I tell people to balance their eating this time of year. So continue meal planning to keep your family on track with nutritious meals and snacks while including your share of holiday food.
I find that people who are able to balance their eating in most situations have made a mental shift. They don’t overly restrict what they eat, they simply prefer to eat well most of the time.
This mental shift changes the language in your head. So instead of saying I “should” or “shouldn’t” eat something, you eat food that you “want” or “don’t want” to eat. I have found that since I’ve made the mental shift years ago, there are less indulgent type foods I really want to eat, and many more nutritious ones I crave.
3. Don’t graze, eat meals
In his research, Brian Wansink, author of Mindless Eating, finds that the average person has already met 90% of their daily calorie needs before sitting down to their holiday meal.
So instead of grazing, fill a small plate with your favorite appetizers, sit down and enjoy every bite. Remind yourself that you need just enough to hold you over (but not to spoil your appetite) until the main meal is served.
4. Stay active
Exercise is your secret weapon during the holidays. It’s a stress reliever and it gives you the additional energy you’ll need.
And there really is no better time to be active. The weather is crisp and the gyms are free of crowds. I try to sign up for a walk/run in late December/early January. This way, I’m more motivated to run all December long.
5. Cut back on the to do’s
The stress of the holidays makes matters worse. Families aren’t eating together, food is grabbed in a hurry, and many parents stay up late doing more stuff.
Ask yourself if you really need to do everything this year. Maybe it’s time to cut back, be choosy about how you spend your time and focus more on enjoying the season.
Any thoughts? What do you do to stay balanced during the holidays?
Try one of Maryann’s books in the New Year: