The holiday season can be a struggle for anyone trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy lifestyle. How to you balance pleasure and indulgence with your personal wellness goals. Read on to learn my favorite strategies.
Holiday season is officially here. Five. Four. Three. Two. Pie.
For anyone who is trying to lose weight, get healthy or stay healthy, navigating holiday eating can be stressful at times. Even for someone with solid, healthy habits may feel overwhelmed.
Holiday celebrations often center around food. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. Traditional dishes and even delicious new recipes contribute to the joy of the season. But with overabundance of food, how do you decide what’s actually worth it?
In an perfect world, you would tighten up your normal eating habits, maybe tightening up that 80/20 rule to 90/10, then savoring your favorite holiday foods. But of course, we don’t live in a perfect world. There is so much food and so many parties and so much pressure to eat from your coworkers and in-laws and friends that this ideal becomes near impossible.
Don’t throw in the towel and give up until new year. Make peace with the that fact that you’ll probably overdo it on more than one occasion. Then start strategizing so you can minimize the damage and reduce stress going into the holiday season. Here are my strategies for having a happy, healthy and delicious holiday season.
1. DECIDE WHAT’S IMPORTANT.
You’re about the face an overabundance of food. Some of it’s special (i.e. your favorite pumpkin pie, homemade eggnog). Some of it’s not (the bowls of red and green m’n’m’s decorating everyones house, bags of cookies made from premade dough coworkers give as gifts).
Decide what’s important to you before the holidays and enjoy them guilt-free. Looking at your calendar, I would say one meal a week or every other week is appropriate, depending on your goals. That’s not to say you have to eat “perfectly” outside of these meals, but you should use the following steps to ensure you stay relatively on target.
2. PRACTICE THE 50/50 RULE.
On holidays, I practice what I call the 50/50 rule. I fill up half my plate with nutritious choices and leave the other half for the not so nutritious choices I love (i.e. massive quantities of stuffing).
In my practice, I’ve found one of the things people struggle with the most isn’t necessarily the holiday – it’s the constant influx of sweets and other food around the workplace. Half the time, people don’t even want the cookie or the donut, but eat it because they’re afraid to say no or be judged for their eating habits. I can’t tell you how many pieces of crappy sheet cake I’ve had just because I didn’t want to be perceived as the uptight dietitian who is totally judging you for picking the piece with extra frosting (I’m not).
Practice saying no. It seems a lot more intimidating than it is in practice. There’s no need to make up a big story, just say “Nah, I’ll pass. Not a big cake person. But thanks for offering!” It may be difficult at first, but once you’ve said it once or twice, it stops being a big deal.
4. CELEBRATE SUCCESS AND LEARN FROM SLIPS.
Guilt is the easiest way to send yourself into a spiral of pumpkin pie and Christmas ham. It’s easy to ignore the small victories and blame yourself for slips. The problem with that line of thinking is you might come to the conclusion that you are a completely uncontrollable, willpowerless eating machine. And if that’s true, why would you bother even trying at all? Might as well just give up and (maybe) try again at New Years.
You are a normal person trying to navigate a tricky food environment. That means you’ll likely have both successes and failures. Acknowledge and celebrate the successes. If you slip up, attribute it to a faulty plan, not an internal fault. Consider how you can adjust your plan for next time. Because there will be a next time…in 365 days to be precise!
What are your strategies for staying healthy during the holidays? Leave your best tips in the comments below.