We know that to live a healthier life, we need to eat healthy food and exercise. In the fall, this is usually easy as we naturally get motivated and start new routines as the kids head back to school. But just as we start to make progress and see results, the holidays hit! And we are faced with two months of festive coffees, holiday drinks, chocolates and our favorite desserts. This makes it really challenging to not overeat and overindulge in unhealthy foods. As the body tends to naturally store some insulation over the winter, this inevitably leads to the New Year’s Resolution to join a gym or start a new diet. Then the next year we do it all over again – sound familiar? How do we step out of this vicious (and discouraging) cycle? Here are my top 5 tips for eating healthy during the holiday season:
Tip #1: Never go with an empty Stomach
This is a good rule for any festive celebration or dinner, but especially at this time of the year. When you head to a festive dinner and you are starving, you will tend to overindulge. When you are extremely hungry, you will be tempted to chow down on the appetizers as you wait for the main course to be served. Appetizers are delicious, but can often be prepackaged, full of cheese and not many vegetables. By eating a healthy snack or meal before you go to a holiday feast, you will be able to pace yourself and have more portion control. Stick to the main course and choose one portion of your favorite dessert (instead of a plate full of desserts).
Tip #2: Always take a list to the grocery store
When you are shopping for the holidays, make sure that you take the time to plan out your meals and holiday entertaining in advance. This way you can plan for a balance of healthy meals and snacks as well as the treats and sweets. This also prevents impulse purchases as you are faced with more candies and festive goodies.
Tip #3: Take the middle road
Do you ever wonder why each year there is a new fad diet? That is because diets don’t work. Whenever you are too strict on your eating, you initially make progress when you are very motivated, but usually end up caving-in and overindulging on your favorite junk food. This is because you are engaging in a pain/pleasure cycle. It is unrealistic to think that you will get through the holiday season without eating a single piece of cake or cookie. So take the middle road, make a conscious decision about what you are going to eat (e.g. one festive coffee or dessert per day). That way you have given yourself permission to enjoy festive foods, but also feel in control because you will set and stick to a plan. This means no guilt!
Tip #4: Bring and Serve healthy and delicious foods
When taking food to a pot-luck or planning a holiday dinner, help everyone eat healthy by choosing healthy and delicious foods. Perhaps you add a vegetarian option to the menu, make a big salad or serve fruit at the dessert table. By providing healthy options, you will also help your friends and family in their goals. You will also give the vegetarians, diabetics and ill people in your family the support they need to make better choices. I notice that the dessert table gets bigger every year at some of my family functions; perhaps it’s time to simplify and have 2-3 homemade options instead.
Tip #5: Positive Self-talk for a Healthy Life
The most important step you can take towards a healthy eating lifestyle is to develop the habit of positive self-talk. This means that you really pay attention to your attitudes towards eating and food, and that little voice in your head that is always making comments. With a positive attitude towards our food choices, cooking and our bodies, we will be encouraged to set goals and stay on track. A healthy lifestyle is a work in progress, it never ends, and each choice makes a difference. So stay positive and motivated and surround yourself with healthy friends that will encourage you and support you in your lifestyle.
Although it is not easy to stick to your goals during the holidays, it is possible. With a little preparation and planning (and self-control), you can enjoy your holiday dinners and treats without the guilt! Let us know how it goes. We love getting feedback. And here on this blog, you’ll get commentluv. This is a a great opportunity to leave a link back to your own blog when you leave a comment.
Have a wonderful holiday season,