If you’re like most women, you anticipate the approach of the holiday season with a mix of excitement, sentiment and overwhelm. The minute pumpkin spice lattes light up the landscape of our coffee shops the signal is sent to get ready, gear up and lean in to the next 3 months.
So how do we thrive and enjoy ourselves in the midst of the food, friends and festivities while staying true to our commitment to health throughout the holidays?
Remember – each of the holidays are typically just one meal. One meal. It doesn’t have to turn into a 24-72 hour gorge-fest. Practice mindfulness and decide ahead of time which approach you are going to take:
Are you going to stay as close to your plan as possible? Have a 1 spoonful taste of your favorites? Will you prioritize your treats and choose the one most important to you? Or, throw all caution to the wind and enjoy every offering that is placed in front of you with no restrictions?
Whatever decision you make, ensure that it supports your goals and bring a buddy into the process. It’s amazing what happens when you know someone is going to ask you how things went!
Here’s some basic guidelines to keep you from going off course:
- Focus on family and friends instead of food. Have a strategy of who you want to get to know and stories you want to hear. Stay away from the food table, and set your boundaries before you enter the room.
- Keep your hands full. Make sure you are well hydrated before you arrive, and keep the water flowing throughout the evening. Try making zero-calorie “mocktails”. Your hands will be busy, and you will feel full.
- Make the “Lean and Green” approach the foundation of your plan. Healthy proteins and leafy, non-starchy vegetables are healthful and tasty options. Most events will have protein offerings, but it’s unlikely that the greens will be very plentiful. Always offer to bring a veggie platter, salad or vegetable dish as your contribution so you can be sure that there are healthy options. Fill 50% of your plate with “green”, 25% with protein, and the rest with the “other” category.
- Stay on your 2-3 hour fueling and exercise routine throughout the day of the event, and NEVER go to an event with an empty tummy – even if you think food will be served soon after you arrive. Have a healthy snack before you arrive, and try to make it protein rich so that you feel satisfied. This will set you up to be in control of your choices.
- Don’t think that if you overeat, you will not be hungry again. You just may be hungrier! Don’t let the cravings-loop get the best of you. Jump right back into your normal routine right after the meal and emphasize getting your blood-sugars back into a healthy range by having a balanced protein:carb snack every 2-3 hours.
- Initiate activity. Recruit family and friends to go for a walk after dinner. Let your guests know to bring comfortable shoes to enjoy a stroll in the neighborhood, ping-pong or bocce ball in the back yard. It may be out of the ordinary, but the memories you build by pushing through the “we’ve never done this before” resistance could be some of your fondest yet.
Have a wonderful and healthy holiday season!