Many of us this holiday season are trying to keep our waists in check without feeling left out over the holidays. It’s a tough situation, because the host’s feelings can get hurt if you don’t touch their meals, and you can end up feeling left out if everyone gets to eat Christmas cookies except for you!
So, here are some helpful holistic-health approved tips to get you through the holiday season without throwing your goals out the door:
Tell the host. If you’re comfortable enough with doing this, it will help A LOT. You don’t need to tell them your life story or why you’ve decided to become healthier, just tell them that you have new health goals and you don’t want to abandon them. That way, they know why you may only be nibbling here and there on the decadent treats. Communication is key so no one’s feelings are hurt!
Go for seconds. Christmas is about enjoying food and the company of those you love. If you want more turkey, go for it. But you must include vegetables in your second serving as well. Fill half your plate with veggies, and the rest with whatever else you want. (For the record: potatoes don’t count as vegetables, so filling half the plate with mashed potatoes and the other half with turkey = not so nourishing).
Enjoy decadence in small portions. You’re allowed to treat yourself. Health isn’t prison. Have a few cookies, or some pumpkin pie. Just have small portions and try to limit yourself to one serving.
Rate your commitment to your goal. Be honest with yourself. If your commitment is anything less than 7/10 (10 = full commitment), then consider why you have this goal in the first place. Maybe you want to pursue it after Christmas, or maybe deep down you’re not ready to make the change. Either way, if you know you’re not committed, why beat yourself up when you don’t achieve your goal?
Allow yourself guilty pleasures, GUILT FREE. If you know your grandma is baking your favorite treat, and you can’t resist, follow the “decadence in small portions” idea. And remember to enjoy it. Don’t hate yourself with every bite you take. Recognize that you are eating something unhealthy, but that doesn’t make you an unhealthy person by definition. Treat yourself with love, care, and respect. Your body will thank you for it!
Chew your food. Chewing is the starting point of digestion. Our saliva contains enzymes that break down food as we chew. Also, chewing extends the time it takes to eat a meal, which allows our bodies to send the “I’m full” signal in time before we get a second serving. Take your time.
Rest. Wait 5-10 minutes before getting a second serving. This allows your body to send you the “I’m full” signal if it needs to before you get a second serving. As ridiculous as this sounds, many of us are disengaged from our body and its signals, and we have to learn how to listen to what it needs.
Arrive at the party (almost) full. Rarely will you eat the main meal upon arriving at your holiday party. Most likely you’ll mingle and chat, and if you arrive starving, you will definitely load up on the appetizers, which will most likely be baked goods. If you arrive full however, you won’t feel the desire to snack on the cookies and instead you’ll start to become hungry again as the main meal arrives.
Practice saying “No.” All the above advice is for if you WANT to eat something. In some cases, you don’t want to eat the unhealthy food, but you do because everyone else is, or because you don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. Practice saying “no” politely, because eating calories you didn’t even desire is a complete waste…you could’ve used those calories on more turkey!
Enjoy your party. Remember that food is a source of enjoyment, but it isn’t the only source of fun on the holidays. Keep this in mind if you start fixating on the unhealthy food.
How do you prepare for holiday parties? I’d love to hear additional tips in the comments below!
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Dr. Rahim Kanji is a Naturopathic Doctor practicing in Toronto, Canada. He has a passion for evidence-based natural medicine, specifically empowering his patients to make nutritional changes which create dramatic impacts to their health. For more information, visit his website at www.rahimkanjind.com.