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 so you can enjoy the holiday season without the guilt.
Remember, nobody is perfect and everyone is different. Set realistic goals to stay on track so you can truly enjoy this holiday season and start the new year with confidence.
- 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 that I always suggest to clients this time of year is organic canned pumpkin mixed with plain all natural Greek yogurt, stevia and cinnamon. 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. 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). If you are vegetarian, hummus is normally a party platter favorite and a good source of protein as well as healthy fat.
- 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.
- 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 Eat Yourself Gorgeous video tutorials from Garlic Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes to Skin Clearing Spaghetti Squash here. All take less than ten minutes to make. If you are a dark chocolate fan, you can find two of my “no-brainer” dark chocolate recipes here and my dark chocolate mud muffin recipe recently featured in Entrepreneur Magazine here.
- 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 overindulge 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 overworked. 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 tell my clients to focus on progress instead of perfection as well as never compare themselves to others. 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.
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.
*A cause that is very dear to my heart is the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. I have formed a team in honor of my grandmother, Dr. Lailee Bakhtiar, who passed away after a 21 year battle with the disease.
You can learn more about my team here.