Holidays are always a challenge when it comes to cooking and eating. Rather than feeling over stuffed, unhealthy and remorseful by New Year’s Day, you can “eat your way through the holidays” without guilt. This article is packed with tips and strategies to help you navigate through the end of the year, inspiring you to find new ways to celebrate with food that you love and that loves you back! Read on….
Often when we’re asked what we love most about the holidays, we usually say, “getting together with family and friends”. In our heads, though, there’s a little voice that is thinking about all the great food that goes along with that. And, no wonder. We live in a society that already pairs getting together with others to eating. The holidays are just that on steroids. It’s truly impossible to think about October, November and December without the memories of traditional events, celebrations and of course without thinking of traditional foods. Every magazine cover, every TV ad, every grocery isle, every Instagram pic or Pinterest board draws us into myriad of ways we can delight in tasty, celebratory indulgences. The food industry has used sayings like: “nothin’ says lovin’ like something from the oven” to create the belief that buying their products and making their recipes will bring your family together with love and happiness.
First, let’s take a look at some of the reasons why we are apt to be more vulnerable:
- Stress– The added stress of shopping and gift buying along with cleaning, cooking, entertaining, etc. We know for a fact that stress, even when its supposed to be fun, can be a trigger for cravings and over eating
- Family–That’s a big one. Getting together with family is great, but our families can sometimes promote eating badly. Certain family members are old “eating buddies” and our get togethers end up being food fests. Family gatherings can also bring up some stress. We know perfectly well how to push each other’s buttons.
- Traditions-This is a big one because we love to remember the past good times by indulging in those goodies that we shared growing up. We love to keep up with tradition by serving the food old comfort foods, even if we know they aren’t good for us.
- Eating out more—Between the running around to shop and get things done, we often eat out more and grab quick foods.
- Media and marketing-The holidays is open season for appealing to our senses in all ways when it comes to food. We are easy targets.
- Traveling and vacationing—We definitely can get triggered by traveling and taking vacations this time of year. It’s the best excuse in the world to go “over board”.
- Holiday Parties—This could really be the worst part of holiday eating. If you show up hungry, it’s hard to hold back from diving into the array of tempting foods.
Check out these Strategies for Healthy Holiday Eating:
- Remember that you always have a choice. You don’t have to feel restricted at all. Focus more on all the good stuff you CAN have, rather than on what you can’t have.
- Eat three meals that include the three macronutrients, every day…no matter what.
- Eat out less and cook more.
- Be prepared with a stocked fridge full of fresh, seasonal veggies and have some good ideas and recipes to try. Do your cooking on the weekend and have things to grab during the busy work week.
- Know ahead of time what’s being served at a holiday party or at a restaurant you are going to. Decide on your game plan and if you need to eat before you go, then do it. If you can bring a healthy dish to share, then do it.
- At gatherings, try to focus more on being with family and friends…. talking and really being present, rather than on the food. Let the food be secondary.
- Cut out the sugar and eat foods that help with cravings like sweet vegetables and savory foods. Savory is a category referred to as Umami. Umami foods are browned or caramelized, fermented, pickled and use spices to create that savory taste. They are great foods for cutting down your cravings.
- Be aware of your portions and wait for 15 minutes (take time to chat with a loved one at the table) before going back to get more. Chances are, you will then feel full enough and won’t go back. (See handout on Portions out of Control)
- Keep exercising and moving during the holidays. Take walks with your family and get outdoors when you can.
- Make new traditions of foods that you love and that love you back.
Want to explore your own path to Mindful eating? Call me for a free first session! 805-889-0707