Holiday Feasting: Take Back the Power
By Cami Martin
Many people go into the holidays expecting to eat poorly. They surrender automatically and resign themselves to a future of winter weight gain and feeling sluggish. Instead, it’s possible to get out in front of the holidays and set the tone for how you want to feel, throughout December and into the New Year. Here’s how you can decide right now to take back the power.
Think food, think mood.
During the holidays, be mindful about what you’re eating and why. Many people eat because they’re stressed, or because they go to a party and they see a huge delicious spread. When you’re sitting down for a meal or heading to a holiday event, take the time to listen to your body. Eat only if you’re hungry, and not if you’re nervous or stressed, or feel you have to.
Bring your own food.
Another holiday strategy is to get in on the planning stages of tempting holiday gatherings and offer to bring your own dish. That way you can make it as nutritious as you want, and you can ensure there’s a healthy option you can choose. You’ll find others might appreciate this too!
Staying consistent with your normal routine throughout the holiday season can help keep your focus on a healthy lifestyle. Create a meal plan for the weeks surrounding holiday dinners and parties to ensure that healthy meals still make it to the table. Continue with your activity or fitness routine and make it a priority even if you are traveling.
If traveling, pack healthy snacks. If going to a holiday party, consider sharing a small plate of food with a friend or spouse or deciding which indulgences you deeply desire. Too often we indulge, not because we want to but, because we are on autopilot or are eating mindlessly. Stopping and checking in with yourself can go a long way.
Make nothing “off limits.”
Placing a limitation on holiday favorites can lead to a feeling of deprivation and can increase our cravings for it. Moderation is key, so practice enjoying and savoring treats in smaller portion sizes or less often.
Be kind to yourself.
Remember that one meal won't break or make your health. If you do overindulge, forgive yourself. There is little to gain in feeling guilty. Learn from the experience and take it as a reminder to be mindful next time. Also keep in mind that it’s what we do after the holidays that matters the most. Three months of overindulging can lead to weight gain, so try to focus on healthy eating most of the time.
This holiday season, enjoy the friendships, get-togethers and festivities, but know you do not have to give up all control. You can set the stage for a healthy season and a solid start to the New Year – without having to backtrack. For more tips on healthy, mindful eating through this December and year-round, contact the nutrition experts at you YMCA.