It’s that time of year, folks! The world around us is transforming before our very eyes. The leaves are turning colors and falling to the ground, the temperature is cooling, and the oven is in overdrive. The holiday season is filled with delicious food, family and friends. If you come from a family like mine, holiday meal time is scrumptious, but not necessarily healthy and nutritious. If you are on a journey to wellness and weight loss, the holiday season can bring on some fear and anxiety. How can you navigate the holiday season and still stay on track with a healthy diet?
After many years of trial and error, here are my top tips and tricks:
Bring your own food
This is by far my favorite thing to do. When I started to eat a healthy diet, my family was not on board. I got many side eyes and furrowed brows. It was unfair of me to ask them to cook a separate meal for me or to not have certain food items that I knew I’d want to give into and eat. Instead, I started bringing a few of my own healthy recipes and you know what happened? They tried them too! It spread like wildfire and it seems like every year, our Thanksgiving spread gets healthier and healthier.
Eat the healthiest options first
This is so important! If you fill up on healthier options, you are much less likely to load your plate with sweet potato casserole because you’re no longer starving.
Eat before you go
A common holiday mentality is, “Why should I eat breakfast or lunch? We are going to have a huge Thanksgiving dinner later!” The problem with this thought is that by the time you get to Thanksgiving dinner you are so hungry, you have lost all willpower and will eat the first thing that you see. Eat a healthy breakfast and lunch, go to your holiday dinner like you would any other dinner, not ravenous and ready to devour anything in sight.
Get a healthy eating buddy
Humans are a “we” species. We do much better when we have an accountability partner, someone just as dedicated to a goal as we are than if we are riding solo. Find someone in your family that is also dedicated to being healthy and team up. Together, you will be a powerful force of health able to take on even the most gluttonous of holiday feasts.
Keep up your exercise routine
I know, the holidays are a busy time of year. Full of shopping and travel, oh and work doesn’t just stop because the holidays are here. Even though your schedule is fuller than normal, don’t let your exercise routine fall to the way side. When you exercise regularly, you have better energy to power through all the holiday tasks and we are much more likely to make healthy food choices.
Pick one indulgence
You can have cookies and cheesecake any time of year, but pumpkin pie or your grandmother’s favorite holiday desert recipe only come around once a year. Know what you’re going to have for desert before you approach the desert table. Make it a conscious choice rather than getting a slice of everything in sight.
Create healthy versions of traditional recipes
Ingredients really do matter. Use unsweetened coconut milk instead of cow’s milk, ghee instead of butter or margarine, honey or maple syrup instead of white, granulated sugar, brown rice or lentil noodles instead of traditional white noodles. Baby steps, they make a big difference in the long run.
I hope these suggestions help you navigate the holiday season with comfort and ease. Most importantly, be gentle with yourself. Set attainable goals, and take it one day at a time. Know that you are worth it and that you can do it. Being healthy is a lifestyle, and it doesn’t always happen overnight. If you slip up, don’t beat yourself up. Simply acknowledge it and then jump right back on the band wagon.