It’s the most wonderful time of the year… or is it? For a lot of us, the holidays are a test of willpower, and just the thought of all the opportunities there are to get off track from your goals can be really stressful. I have had clients tell me they’re feeling nervous about the next couple weeks, with all of the holiday parties and celebrations on our calendars filled with tons of sugar and alcohol and all the food you could want. I tell them my biggest tip:
I want you to be able to enjoy this time of year! Enjoy the recipes that have been passed down in your family, indulge with friends in happy celebration, because it is truly a wonderful time! So much of our cultures’ celebrations revolve around food and drink, I want you to savor it without guilt.
So, how do you actually prepare?
- Have a healthy breakfast and lunch. If you know you’re going out at night or having a big dinner, make sure your meals beforehand are high in protein, fat, and fiber so your needs are met. Balancing your meals properly will help keep you feeling satisfied, and will keep blood sugar stabilized so you can avoid cravings later in the day. Avoid the urge to skip meals as this can contribute to cravings, too.
- Get moving. Doing some sort of physical activity before the party can help keep you from feeling lethargic after eating. This can be your regular workout, or something simple as taking a walk or doing some stretching. If you’re traveling, find some yoga or full-body workouts on YouTube, or see if there are any classes you can drop into wherever you’re going.
- Drink up! I’m talking about water, folks. Get hydrated, and drink extra if you know you’ll be imbibing! We need water for the proper functioning of all our metabolic processes, including detoxification—a process you’ll want to be working smoothly if you’re planning on enjoying sweets or alcohol—and digestion.
- Offer to bring a dish. If you’re trying to stick to a certain diet (gluten-free or dairy-free, for instance), parties can be suuuuper difficult pit our willpower up against even if we know we’ll pay the price later with gas/bloating/other digestive issues. If you can, offer to bring a dish you can enjoy, that way you can control the ingredients and still indulge—but on your own accord.
- Remember that it’s okay to be lax this time of year (or whenever the mood strikes, really). The holidays bring with it foods that we don’t always eat on a regular basis, so keep that in mind when you start to feel the guilt creep in. We have enough stress this time of year! These celebrations aren’t forever, and as long as you try to prepare and balance out your day, everything will be okay.
- Finally, if you do overdo it and don’t feel well, repeat #2 and #3. Taking a walk around the block after a big meal can help reduce the glucose load because some of it will go towards fueling your physical activity. Getting moving also helps with digestion of the food, too. Drinking lots of water as well will again, aid in digestion, and help reduce bloating. Don’t punish yourself by skipping meals the next day! Be thankful for the delicious food you got to enjoy, and for the new opportunity you have to nourish yourself at your next balanced meal.
In order to have a positive relationship with food we have to get over the mindset that deprivation will help us achieve our goals. It’s not sustainable, and it never works. This is a major theme in my program, Intuition Nutrition, where we spend six weeks devoted to understanding the roots of our cravings, overcoming them through practical and mindful strategies, incorporating highly nutritious foods into our days, and freeing ourselves from the guilt and the hold that food has on us.
You can learn more about my online course here.