Y’all, the holidays are in full swing and you know what that means. Trays of party snacks, Christmas cookies, and other holiday treats. Sometimes it can feel like everywhere you turn, you are surrounded by holiday goodies. Managing holiday eating may seem impossible and believe me, I am not here to spoil your fun. But I do have some tips to share to make it through the season without January regret.
If you have been a Creative Cynchronicity reader for a while, you already know a couple of things about me. One is that I am a trained Community Food Advisor. We teach our communities about healthy eating, grocery shopping on a budget, getting kids into the kitchen, and more. The second thing is that I am a big believer in balance when it comes to eating.
MANAGING HOLIDAY EATING
Balance is Key.
So, when we’re talking about holiday eating, let’s start with a few basics. Body shaming is never okay – and that means body shaming yourself too! When negative thoughts creep in, I want you to immediately find a positive thought to balance it with. Did you overdo at a holiday party? NO beating yourself up for it! It’s in the past. Choose to eat healthier today and let it go.
Stop the comparison game in its tracks. The only thing that needs to be on your mind when it comes to holiday eating is what you are doing. You don’t know what goes on with other people behind closed doors anyway. Decide how you want to handle your own holiday eating, allow yourself the grace to make mistakes, and stay in your own lane.
Be prepared ahead of time.
Have you ever noticed how some people are what I like to call “food pushers”? They offer you dessert. You say no thank you. Oh come on, just have a little piece. They push and push until you give in. Of course, then they usually hand you what is most definitely NOT a little piece. Get your responses for these people ready ahead of time. Have a polite but firm reply planned out and stick to it.
Don’t skip meals so that you can “save calories” for later. How many of you do that? Oh, I’m going to a big party tonight so I won’t eat all day. What tends to happen is that you really haven’t saved any calories at all because once you get to the party, you’re eyeing all of that scrumptious party food on an empty stomach. You still consume just as many (if not more) calories and all of them on the less nutritious foods. Eat normally and then allow yourself a reasonable amount of treats at the party. Obviously, calories count but getting the needed nutrients is most important to your health.
Enjoy what you like, in moderation.
And while we’re talking about holiday indulgences, personally, I don’t think depriving yourself works. Or at least, it doesn’t work for me. If given a choice between all or nothing, I’m going to choose all. Moderation and small changes work so much better for me.
Eat the food you like. I know, this sounds like a given but maybe it isn’t always. We get talked into eating food we don’t really want (see my comments above about food pushers). We indulge in a holiday treat because, well, it’s the holidays. It’s what we’re supposed to do, right? Or we avoid the foods we love, feel deprived, and then overindulge.
What if you picked out your favorites and allowed yourself to have them, guilt-free? When you get to a party, before filling up your plate, look over the options. Choose the ones that are really appealing and leave the others. When you do indulge in them, take time to really enjoy them. Eat slowly and savor every bite.
Take a break.
Wait 15 minutes before having seconds. Then ask yourself, am I still hungry? Would I eat more if I were being offered celery instead of chocolate? If you keep holiday treats around the house, try storing them in the freezer (if they are okay to freeze). This helps eliminate mindless non-stop noshing. You will have to get it out of the freezer and let it thaw before you can eat it, making it a more deliberate decision.
Manage your holiday stress. Stress eating and holiday treats just go together so well, don’t they? Eat because you’re hungry. Find other ways to deal with stressful situations. Have your favorite holiday treats when you can truly enjoy them.
Keep eating those nutritious foods too!
When it comes to the more nourishing foods, treat yourself to your favorites there too. It’s a good way to keep it from seeming like a sacrifice. If you’re sitting there munching on celery (when it’s one of your least favorite foods) instead of shortbread cookies (when it’s a holiday favorite), you’re going to feel deprived.
I grab some of my seasonal favorites from the store – clementines, pomegranates, nuts, and so on. Then I assemble plates of beautiful nutritious foods. Use different textures and colors to make it really visually appealing!
The holidays shouldn’t be about guilt or deprivation. And they definitely shouldn’t be a time of feeling sluggish or having constant indigestion. They are a time of celebrating! By putting a little thought into your holiday eating, you can still enjoy your favorites without the downside.