You did it!! You’ve made it through two of the many holidays this time of year. Maybe Thanksgiving and Halloween weren’t so aligned with your nutrition goals, but they are in the past. You may be sitting there still slapping your forehead (like in those “should’ve had a V8” commercials) in shame about your choices – but really, what’s the point of the blame game?
When you evaluate how you did over these two holidays, look at it in a positive light. Remember how many important life lessons you’ve learned from evil ex-boyfriends? Apply the same principles to your holiday eating choices.
- What did I do right? What were my strengths at the party/event?
- What choices did I make that were outside of my health plan? What were the reasons?
- What can I make sure to do/bring next time so that doesn’t happen?
For example: Let’s say you went to your Thanksgiving hungry. You knew there was going to be lots of great food at dinner and you wanted to “save room or save calories” for that meal. Because you went into the event hungry, you ate EVERYTHING – including a slice of EACH of the 3 desserts (the reason). You skipped the gluten-containing foods because you know how awful gluten makes you feel (strengths), but you still ended up feeling bloated, tired, and disappointed in yourself.
So for your next event, you decide that you are going to eat filling, clean meals before the event and bring a dish that is in alignment with your nutrition plan. That way, you won’t be licking your plate clean of not-so-good goodies. Even better, instead of spending time mindlessly munching, you will be able to enjoy the real reason you came to the party – to socialize with your friends and family. Am I right?
Identifying what went wrong and what went right can help guide you on a plan for a successful Thanksgiving next year. Heck, it can help you at nearly any event that you partake in during the year. As we all know, there will ALWAYS be another birthday, work event, celebration, or random Thursday night that will happen and you can and should be prepared!
Here are a couple of strategies that I use to help me handle the holidays:
- Never come to a party hungry (see example above). Just like going grocery shopping at Whole Foods on an empty stomach will cause you bankruptcy, going to a party on an empty stomach will always lead to overeating. Have well rounded meals (protein + fat + veggies) leading up to the event and have a light snack containing protein and fiber before the party (a hardboiled egg and raw veggies will do the trick!)
- Stand away from the food table! It’s tempting to continue mindlessly eating when you are talking with others if you are standing next to the food. Grab a small plate of food and take your talking elsewhere.
- On that note, make sure to choose a small plate. Research shows that smaller plates make us feel more satisfied than using a large dinner plate.
- Go for a walk, go to yoga, or do some deep breathing exercises before you go to the event. You don’t want to show up frazzled because of the in-laws or work and emotionally eat all of the goodies.
- Bring mints or even throw your toothbrush in your purse for after eating. This will freshen your breath and remind you that you’re done. Who wants to eat chips and dip with a peppermint aftertaste looming in their mouth?
- Remember to drink lots of water! If you decide to drink liquor, intersperse your glasses of wine with a glass of water.
- Your non-verbal actions (body language: shaking head, smiling) are important!!! When your health goal is to avoid sugar, but your mind is dying to have it, outsmart your cravings by saying “no” to the dessert WHILE you are shaking your head no. It sounds silly, but pairing your verbal answer with a non-verbal action makes the decision much stronger.
- Move!!! Get out of the house after or before you eat and do something fun! Maybe it is flag football, a group walk to check out the neighbor’s decorations, or a snowball fight! Be playful.
- Before you eat, acknowledge something that you are grateful for. Taking a few seconds before diving into your food helps reconnect your mind and body.
- You don’t have to give UP your holiday favorites, just make them healthy! There are TONS of recipes online for healthier versions of your favorite meals. Swap vegetable oils for coconut oil, switch from regular sugar to maple syrup or raw, local honey, or just cut back on the amount of sugar.
There are a LOT more tips that I can share, but these should give you a good start!! What are your top tips for sticking to your health goals?