The holidays are about memories, moments and fun. There is no time for feeling deprived or guilty about food choices (that also is not the answer to a happy life). Below are my simple tools (nine easy to apply steps) so you can enjoy the holiday season without the guilt.
Remember, nobody’s perfect. Set realistic goals to stay on track so you can truly enjoy this holiday season and not go on a crazy diet in the New Year.
For more Holiday Tools check out my article featured on Active.com on Healthy Holiday Sides (link is at the end of the piece) my Eat Yourself Gorgeous Meal Makeover Video Series and my Everyday Health featured piece.
- Never go to a party starving. Often times when we are stressed out, tired or cranky it is because we are eating sugary packed junk foods and unhealthy sweets with preservatives. These foods make us crave more unhealthy foods and mess with the hormones that regulate the stress response within the body. By nourishing your body with nutrient dense foods and always having a healthy snack, you will have increased energy, a calmer demeanor and be less likely to lose control at the holiday buffet. One of my favorite snacks is organic canned pumpkin with a dollop of plain all natural Greek yogurt. This is a great combination of a healthy carbohydrate (from the pumpkin) and protein from the Greek yogurt. I call it my special “bliss in a cup” energizing snack. It is quick, easy to make and leaves me feeling like I just ate a slice of pumpkin pie. Moreover, the fiber in the pumpkin is great for your digestive system especially during the Holidays. Watch my video tutorial on how to make it here.
- Eat real food before you reach for the sugary sweets. Fill up on protein before you head to the dessert table. Protein will help stabilize your blood sugar levels and keep you more full and satisfied for a longer amount of time. By eating protein you will reduce your cravings for junk food and sweets. One of my favorite protein appetizer options is shrimp, which you can find at most holiday parties (if not, be a great guest and bring a healthy appetizer). Just do not drench your shrimp in the cocktail sauce, which is usually made with excessive sugars. Instead squeeze on some freshly sliced lemon for flavor and zest (lemon helps with holiday bloating and is a great immune system booster as well). If you are vegetarian, hummus is normally a party platter favorite and a good source of protein.
- Indulge in a balanced way. If you are craving a serving of pie have a reasonable portion but do not eat three servings. Do you notice how the first serving of an amazing food tastes the best? The food is not as good the second or third time around. This will prevent you from feeling deprived and then overeating later on.
- Munch on veggies. Often times when we are not hungry but see other people eating it is very easy to mindlessly put food in our bodies. When I am in the mood to munch I always go for veggies. I love carrots because of the vitamin-A. Vitamin- A is great for vision, dark circles under your eyes and an immune system booster.
- Volunteer to bring a healthy side to your next holiday party. Not only are you a great guest because you are contributing to the party (the host will love you!) but you can ensure that there is something delicious AND healthy for you to eat. Bringing a healthy side does not have to be complicated or overwhelming. Check out my library of healthy holiday cooking videos from Garlic Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes to Skin Clearing Spaghetti Squash here! All take less than 20 minutes to make.
- Be mindful of your environment. It is very easy to overeat when everyone around you is overeating as well.
- Always have a plan. If you know you are going to be around a group of people that over-indulge all the time, have a plan going into the situation. Make it clear what you are going to indulge in, what you are going to pass on and other activities you are going to focus on (schedule a family game of cards or talk to that uncle who you have not seen in a while). Focus on friends, family and conversation; not simply stuffing your face with food at the holiday buffet. Remember why you are at the gathering in the first place.
- Learn to take a deep breath and slow down. It is okay to say no to certain events if you are feeling drained and over-worked. Finding balance, especially during the holiday season is important. Recognize when you are doing too much and be okay with cutting back. You do not have to be superman (or woman). Make choices that are energy inducing as opposed to energy draining. Be smart about your time and how you invest it.
- Ditch the all or nothing diet mentality. I always say to focus on progress instead of perfection. So many people have “cheat” days then are excessively strict and deprive themselves. This causes them to overeat way too much when they “let themselves go.” I always hear “I am starting my diet tomorrow.” You should erase the term diet from your vocabulary.
Everyday Health featured piece: http://www.everydayhealth.com/food/8-Health-Experts-Weigh-In-on-Navigating-the-Holidays-the-Healthy-Way.aspx#/slide-7
Just like any muscle, the more you practice consistent healthy habits the easier they will get. By implementing these tools you will be less stressed and have more energy to invest in activities you truly enjoy. Happy Holidays!