Here we are again. The Holidays. The parties. The shopping. The gatherings. The stress. The food. At least it’s cold out so we can layer on the clothes an hide those extra pounds we gained…until we have to go to a fancy Christmas party, or it’s New Year’s Eve and we wanted to wear a cute dress. Then we feel the dread. The shame for “lack of self-control”. The guilt for losing all “self-discipline”.
This holiday season does not have to be filled with guilt, shame, or even full avoidance of gatherings or eating. Life isn’t about restricting ourselves. It’s about experiencing and enjoying! So here are 5 ways that you can an experience and enjoy all of the holiday gatherings, without feeling guilty or ashamed, and without packing on all of the pounds.
- Don’t wait until you are starving: If you are going to a dinner or a gathering where there will be food, eat a light snack before you go. When you are going out to eat and waiting on a table, or waiting for a friend to serve a meal, you are eating on someone else’s schedule. It may have been a while since you’ve last eaten. By the time your food arrives your blood sugar is low and you scarf down as much as you can. Instead, before you leave (or even right before you arrive) eat a light healthy snack to keep yourself from this sabotaging behavior. A small pack of mixed nuts, a bag of salted popcorn, or a piece of fruit will all help curb your appetite and keep your blood sugars from bottoming out until you can actually eat.
- Start each meal with a salad: If a salad is not available, eat your vegetables first. Veggies are full of fiber. Fiber makes you feel…full! Plus of course there’s that whole digestive support thing. Not to mention many times we are having cravings because we are not getting the nutrients we need in the sweets and treats, so we crave more. It’s a bad cycle to get into. So give your body what it NEEDS (vitamins, minerals, proteins) and then you can have what you WANT. (And it’s true, you’ll actually want less!)
- Slow down: Seriously, enjoy the food you are eating. It’s fine to eat the treat, have the prime rib, indulge in the cheeses. But ENJOY them! Don’t eat them mindlessly and don’t scarf them down. Slow down. Chew your food. Taste the spices, feel the texture. That is the point, isn’t it? We eat these things because they are SO good, so slow down and enjoy it! You will eat less, but enjoy more when you eat this way.
- Stay hydrated: Not only will water help you feel more full, it will keep you from feeling hungry. Often, when we feel hungry, we actually are simply thirsty, we just don’t know how to interpret our body’s communications. Before you sit down to a big meal, drink half a glass of water to decrease the amount of food you eat. Before you go raid the fridge because you are feeling hungry, drink a whole glass of water, and then wait 5 minutes. If you are still hungry, then have a snack.
- Get moving: Obviously if we increase our calorie intake but don’t increase our activities, our body won’t process the calories. If you are able to avoid all of the snacking in between the couple of holiday dinners, then you will likely be ok. But if you are attending multiple gatherings or indulging in the break room snack buffet, you are going to need to up your game! Cardio is great, but you can actually burn more calories (and get a great cardio workout) by adding in some strength training. If you get the right workout going you can make a big impact in 3-4 30 minute sessions each week. Another good tip is to get moving after the heavy meals. Instead of laying down on the couch to watch a football game (also known as napping), get the kids outside for a game of flag football, or go for a walk around the block. Check out some decorations and breathe the fresh air! You’ll burn some of those calories and get your digestive system booted up to work through the meal you just ate!
No matter how things end up, remember to be easy on yourself. The point of life is to enjoy it. Make memories, smile, laugh, and have fun. Give yourself some grace and do the best that you can. If today didn’t turn out the way you wanted it to and you overindulged a bit, make tomorrow count.