Tis the greatest season of all, the holidays are here and this can mean a lot of things. More family, more food, more time spent indoors and an expanding waistline. There’s got to be something better than crunching on carrot sticks while everyone you love eats that pecan pie. But I wonder, could we have a healthy holiday without changing what we eat?
5 Tips for Holiday Success:
1. De-stress daily. The holiday season is one of the most stressful times of the year, when it’s supposed to be filled with joy, happiness and fun family time. Honor your sleep, move your body daily and spend some time journaling, meditating or doing some breathing exercises. Make sure you do something for your body that is relaxing and peaceful.
2 Eat nutrient-dense food to build your vitamin/mineral stores. Eat in-season vegetables like sweet potatoes, butternut squash, pumpkin and onions – which all have vitamins and nutrients that our bodies need right now to fight stress and illness. Choose Vitamin C-rich foods like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, bell peppers, grapefruit, limes and cherries.
3. Release restriction and set intentions instead. Playing the restriction and deprivation game is a vicious cycle. Once you get on it, you’ll find yourself repeating it; restrict, binge, guilt, repeat. Rather than looking at food as good or bad, be mindful of what is nourishing for you. Once we can set aside the idea that food is either “good” or “bad,” then we can start to see food and other lifestyle activities through the lens of what is good or bad for me. Trade-in willpower for mindfulness.
4. Minimize grazing. Unconscious eating gets us all, but there are ways to reduce it without restricting it. The most critical way to end grazing is to get food out of your head. It’s not as impossible as you might think. You see, the more we restrict or feel shame or guilty, the more our mind is going to trigger thoughts of binging, of munching and eating all the things no amount of willpower can stop us from. It’s mostly a mindset point of view. Once you end the food arguments going on in your mind and you stop thinking so much about food, you’ll realize that you don’t need as much food.
Of course, the other reason you graze is that you’re hungry – so make sure you don’t go hungry. Eat meals with protein, fiber and fat and enough at meals to sustain you. Keep yourself well fed. Put food on a plate and sit down to enjoy it.
5.When you do indulge, make it worth it. I like to partake in my favorite sweet treats a few times per year. I have a love affair with authentic French Macarons. But, I know they can be a trigger for me, so I only buy a few, but I really take the time to enjoy them. I smell them. Take small bites and rest in between. I really savor each bite and relish those little morsels. Then, I feel no guilt because it was a conscious, mindful choice rather than an overindulgence headfirst into a platter of them (which used to be me!). Enjoy foods you love, but be mindful of how they make you feel and eat more of those things.
Bonus tip: Honor your fullness. Eat slowly and stop when you begin to feel full. Move away from the kitchen and go brush your teeth or sip some peppermint tea. You can always go back for leftovers later on.
However you decide to spend your holidays, make sure you’re being aware, mindful and cautious about your food choices to help you up the path towards good health. And if you need a little support, I’m here for you. Join me, December 12, for a fun online cooking class – Holiday Favorites. I’m making over holiday cookies and marshmallows into healthier versions! You can sign up on my website, www.UnlockBetterHealth.com.