Chief among holiday anxieties are endless social gatherings that frequently involve less-than-healthy food and drink choices.
What we must always remember is that eating well is not about perfection. We are human, so perfection is impossible. A better approach involves honoring our bodies and knowing what works best for us, but equally as important, what doesn’t work.
When we go to a party and eat tortilla chips or sugar-laden treats, we feel the after effects. We feel sick, tired, and bloated. That’s not how we want to feel or spend our time, right?
Just like anything in life, preparation becomes key to staying lean and healthy during and after the holidays. These seven hacks can help us navigate even the most tempting social situations.
- Remember our goals. Think about the way we want to feel before we hit those parties and dinners. If we want to feel great, we’re less likely to indulge in foods that make us feel less than great. We can hold ourselves accountable by sharing our goals with a close friend or family member or writing them in our journal.
- Don’t deviate from the norm. If we’re going to attend a lavish party, we should begin our day like any other. We don’t skip meals to save calories or carbohydrates. Instead, we eat a protein and healthy-fat packed snack an hour before our holiday meal like celery sticks with nut butter or a protein shake that cut cravings for sugar and processed carbs.
- Start meals with smart food choices. Beginning with soup, fresh veggies, or a salad and avoiding any refined flour pastries or sweet appetizers can prevent cravings. Look for the vegetable board or other healthy options as snacks or appetizers. Volunteering to bring something to every gathering we attend guarantees there’s healthy food.
- Stay active and people-focused rather than entirely dwelling on food. Plan an activity to look forward to after the meal like a group walk, visiting with other friends or family, a group game, or playing with younger family members. Offering to clean up and help our host helps prevent overeating or reaching for dessert. Sitting next to someone we find genuinely interesting and engaging in conversation can distract us from temptation and help us feel great.
- Practice mindfulness. We can take five deep breaths before our meal and chew every bite slowly. We can put our fork down between bites, and breathe through our nose while we eat. We can express gratitude with others before our meal.
- Remember food can be medicine. Eat healthy and enjoy time with loved ones. Take the time to enjoy healthy, wholesome meals with our friends and family and remember we can heal our body and mind with each forkful of delicious food we enjoy.
- Avoid guilt. Guilt is a toxic emotion that creates damage. When things get out of control (which they do), simply make a gentle U-turn. Think of this as a GPS for the soul. Our GPS doesn’t yell at us, call us stupid, or judge us for taking a wrong turn. In the sweetest voice imaginable, the GPS reminds us to take the next possible U-turn.
For more great tips to divert temptations during the holidays and beyond, check out my Eat Fat, Get Thin Cookbook. This cookbook features over 175 delicious recipes for holiday parties including dips, side dishes, soups, drinks, entrees, and even desserts.
What strategy would you add to stay on track and healthy through the holidays? Share it below or on my Facebook page.
Author: Dr. Mark Hyman
Image: Lily Lvnatikk/Unsplash
Editor: Emily Bartran