We all know the holidays are meant for two things: spending time with family and food.
With such a strong emphasis on treats, food, and drinks it can be hard to stay focused when you are on a health journey.
So, the question remains: how are you supposed to go about the holidays while on your health journey?
As a nutritionist I focus on a mindful approach to food that never makes you choose between enjoying life and reaching your goals.
In this blog we discuss all things holiday eating, planning ahead, setting realistic goals, and how to handle gatherings and food comments to help you stay on track during the holidays.
Want to learn more about mindful eating? Checkout my blog post on how you can benefit from mindful eating!
Setting Realistic Goals Around the Holidays
Goal setting when it comes to the holiday season may look a little different than it does throughout other periods of your health journey.
This season is a time you may want to consider giving yourself a little more grace around your long term goals and focus on more short term goals around mindset, being present, and your relationship with food.
The holidays only come around once a year. While you want to stay steered in the right direction on your health journey this should not mean abstaining from all the fun things that make the holidays the holidays, including the food!
Here are a few ideas of realistic goals you can focus on this holiday season:
- Moderation not deprivation. Rather than avoiding all indulgent foods, practice moderation by allowing yourself to enjoy holiday treats in smaller portions, savoring the flavors without overindulging. This helps to deepen your relationship with food.
- Prioritizing protein and veggies. Making it a goal to fill your plate with protein and veggies first and then sprinkling in the treats can go a long way in helping to keep you satisfied and your blood sugar stable.
- Staying hydrated. Make it a goal to drink plenty of water throughout the day. On those busy holiday days you can often forget to drink water causing you to become dehydrated and often mistake thirst for hunger.
- Memories over macros. Focus on being present in the moment with your family and friends. I promise you will remember these memories a lot more than you will remember the food you ate that day!
Mindful Eating Tips
Mindful eating is a way to check in with your body by giving it the trust to guide your eating behaviors and patterns. Here are some tips to practice mindful eating this holiday season:
- Recognize your hunger cues. Know how to decipher when you are actually hungry and when you are just mentally wanting to eat.
- Put down the utensils between bites. This tactic really helps you to slow down when you eat, forcing you to savor every bite.
- Listen to your body. If you can’t seem to stop thinking about the Christmas cookies sitting on the counter after avoiding them all day, it may be time to allow yourself to have one. Constantly going against your body and depriving yourself of treats will only make you want them more!
- Avoid judgment. This includes from yourself and from others. There is no need to self criticize yourself for your food choices or allow others to make you feel bad for what is on your plate.
- Connect with the food on your plate. Celebrate your indulgences are recognize the memories and experiences you are having with the food consciously and without guilt.
For all the tips, tricks, and information on mindful eating, take a peek at my blog!
Planning ahead before heading to a holiday gathering or party can save you from feeling helpless, starving, and out of control near all the food and treats.
Making sure you have eaten balanced meals before your holiday event can help make sure your blood sugar levels are stable to prevent the crash and hangry feeling that can quickly take over. This can help you make more controlled choices around food without the hunger nagging at your senses.
Planning ahead also includes ensuring you have enough time for your daily routines that help you feel your best! This can mean waking up a little earlier to get a quick workout, walk, journaling, or meditation in before the holiday festivities. Planning ahead this way can help you feel more grounded in the craziness while also helping to reduce stress!
Handling Holiday Gatherings and Food Comments
We have all gotten that one comment from a family member about our food choices or body image that has stuck with us forever.
While these comments are not meant to come off the way they often do, they can lead lasting impacts on your mental health and relationship with food and your body.
Dealing with these comments can be tricky. Here are a few tips to help…
- Set boundaries. Politely let your family member know that you have your own preferences and you would like them to respect your choices without judgment.
- Educate when appropriate. If you think it will be well received, educate a family member on why you make the food choices you do.
- Stay calm and remember your purpose. Getting worked up after a comment can easily happen. Staying calm and remembering why you chose the food you did can help ease your anxiety around the situation.
- Use humor. Sometimes there really is nothing else you can do than to laugh at the situation. This also helps to keep the mood light and dissolve the tension.
The Takeaway: Stress Management and Food Freedom
Whether you are hosting or traveling during the holidays, this time can be stressful.
The financial burden, hustle and bustle of this season can easily get to you which can have a large impact on your mindset and food choices! Don’t let the constant go, go, go get the most of you.
Be sure to take care of yourself FIRST. It can be easy to get caught up doing things for others, planning for the party, or last minute shopping leaving no time for YOU.
Remember to set boundaries for yourself to feel more grounded and capable of accomplishing the things that mean the most to you. The holidays are meant to be enjoyed. Don’t let your fear of falling off track hold you back from this enjoyment.
Embrace food freedom as a gift to yourself; finding joy in every bite and celebrating the company of your loved ones!