As we approach the
eating holiday season, there are naturally treats galore to tempt, tempt, tempt. And rather than feel like you are heading into the holidays either feeling deprived, ‘battling the food log’ or feel the urge to throw caution to the wind, I thought I would share some food for thought (pun semi-intended!) to help you get into a good mindset as you dive into Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and every party or gathering you attend this holiday season.
Use the food log as a tool and a guide. For those that use a food log, and count calories (and even for those that don’t!), this sounds simple, but it is easy to see the log as ‘the enemy’ or something you are a slave to, but ultimately, it is your secret weapon to get you through the holidays without feeling deprived, with the ability to enjoy that glass or two of wine, or that special pie your Gram always makes on Christmas Eve. “Back load’ your log on days that you have a holiday party. Eat a lighter breakfast and lunch, but choose fueling options, like cottage cheese with strawberries, or Greek yogurt with fresh pineapple, both super high in protein, fiber and calcium, that will keep you fuller longer. Using your best judgement, plan your evening’s food options. Focus on vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats, and use sauces and cheeses more sparingly. Or, if you are like me, you’d rather forgo the bread or the mashed potatoes in favor of a glass or two of wine. You’ll be surprised how little you miss the ‘usual’ staple items, like mashed potatoes when you are fueled up on lean proteins and vegetables that will keep you feeling satisfied.
Listen to your internal cues. Eat slowly, savor the food you are enjoying but more importantly, focus on the conversations, the family and friends you rarely get to see, and the food becomes a natural backdrop, vs. the center of attention. For me, I naturally eat more freely at my own family’s homes, and when it is at an acquaintance’s home, tend to eat less, being more reserved. My trick when at a family’s home for dinner is to pretend that I AM at an acquaintance’s home for a party, and that intuitively makes me eat less, and focus much more on the people around me. And I stop, gauge whether I am truly still hungry or if that bowl of chips is tricking me into feeling hungry (when I know that bowl of chips won’t actually satisfy me at all!).
Enjoy the food you are eating and be at peace with your choices. When you are at peace with what you are eating, and are focused primarily on foods that fuel and sustain you, with a ‘dash’ of those things you MOST want (again, for me, that would be a glass or two of wine!), you will become more mindful, naturally of your eats. And feel less struggle and internal battles against food. It takes time, it takes a lot of practice, and a boatload of patience, but when you really step back and think about the food choices you are making and if they’ll successfully fill you up and energize you, you’ll naturally veer towards those foods again and again.
Lastly, be ‘normal.’ This one may sound weird, but the advice I always give myself when I am making food choices is to simply eat normally. What would I eat on a normal day that doesn’t include a meal out or a dinner party. Would I eat an appetizer at home on a normal evening, plus a roll, plus dessert and a half bottle of wine? Probably not. So why do that at a dinner party or dining out? Choose the one thing that you would NOT eat normally (say, that delicious piece of bread at Not Your Average Joe’s that clocks in at 200 calories) but really enjoy, and plan for it. But if you wouldn’t go all out at home on a regular basis, why do that when out of your ‘food routine?’
We hope these tips help you as you focus on the holidays ahead, while also balancing the enjoyment and magic of the holidays, and staying focused on your 60 day challenge journey, or your lifestyle change that you’ve embarked on, to live a healthy, happy, fit life.