The holidays are quickly approaching and there will be a plethora of yummy, gooey, heavy, hearty, fattening food tempting us from now until January. This time of year is so wonderful because people are in a festive mood, and we get to see family/friends and spend quality time together connecting and bonding. It's also a season of over-eating, over-indulging and weight gain, which can often times lead to illness in the New Year.
It's super easy to overeat at the holidays. Especially because, like I mentioned above, there is tempting food EVERYWHERE. Not only at your dinner table, and in your home, but at coffee shops, gift stores, grocery stores, cafes and on TV luring us to eat more.
But don't worry, I am here to share some awesome tips with you to support you in staying in alignment with your health values this season.
1. Be Prepared: If you are going to a friends or family members house for Thanksgiving dinner this year, offer to make a few of your own healthy dishes to share. You don't have to let anyone know they are healthy, it could be your little secret. If the host declines, let him/her know you will that you have a commitment to yourself to stay healthy this holiday, and you will be bringing some of your own food. I do this all the time, and people usually want to eat what I have because it always looks so tasty. Click here for an awesome healthy side dish recipe.
2. Set an Intention or a Goal: It's important to be intentional when you go to an event where there will be a lot of food. Having an intention or goal will help you with this. For example, your intention could be that you are going to focus on connecting with a specific family member, or friend instead of stuffing your face full of food. Or you could set a goal to only have 3 bites of dessert, knowing that is enough to satisfy your taste buds (FYI, your mind is the one that freaks out and thinks you need more, but the truth is, your reward center in your brain shuts off after the 3rd bite, so anything after that is just your ego feeding you lies about needing more.)
3. Stay Present: Put away your phones, computers and anything that will distract you from being present with your loved ones. Get out a board game, go for a walk or play some cards. Use this time to really savor each moment with the people you love. Tell stories, laugh, connect. That is what the holidays are about.
4. Move away from the Table: Once you are done eating your main meal, get up from the table and move to another room, or help the host clean up. If you are the one who cooked, start to put leftovers directly into food-saving containers so that it's not sitting out and tempting you. Put some music on and clean the dishes.
5. Keep Your Blood Sugar Stable: On the actual holiday, make sure you eat a hearty, healthy breakfast to set your blood sugar up for success. Don't starve yourself with the thought that you want to have room to eat all the Thanksgiving goodies. This will set you up to over stuff yourself, and then your body will hate you. Overeating causes our digestion to stop working optimally and can give us heartburn, indigestion and bloat.
6. Make a Choice: YOU are the ONLY one who chooses what goes in your body. No one is forcing you to eat that second helping of Pumpkin pie. Make good choices. Fill your plate with more veggies and greens than anything, and then take very small servings of the rest. I always load salad on my plate, that way I don't have room for much else.
7. Eat until You're 80% Full: Most people are not able to know when they hit this point. When you tune into your body's subtle cues, you will be able to tell when you are satisfied and this will prevent you from stuffing yourself like that turkey on your table. My body's cue is when I take my first deep breath and I can tell I'm getting kind of full. That is when I stop, put my fork down and take a break.
8. Chew Your Food and Eat Mindfully: This is something I teach in all my food-based cleanses. Slow down, chew your food and be mindful when you eat. Instead of clearing your plate in 3 minutes flat, take time to put your fork down between bites and have conversation with others at the table. Chewing your food will help your digestion work more optimally, as our digestion process starts in the mouth. Look, the bottom line is that you can always go back for more later, but use this time to be super tuned in to each bite, the flavors of the food and how lucky you are to be with your family and friends.
9. Limit Alcohol: Drinking results in tons of added calories and a blood sugar roller coaster. It can also lead to overeating and loss of attunement to yourself. This doesn't mean you can't drink; but keep it to 1 or 2 drinks over the course of a 4-6 hour period and drink lots of water in between to stay hydrated.
10. Volunteer: Spend your Thanksgiving morning volunteering to help those in need. This will put life in perspective when you see how many people in your own neighborhood don't get to have a feast of food, or family to spend their holiday with. Being of service is the best way to get your mind off food, and engaged in something meaningful.
I know that navigating the holiday season can be tricky, but using these tips will support you in sticking to your health goals as well as being in alignment with what is important to you. Take the focus off food, and put it on those around you or those in need. Your body and your health will thank you!
Have a wonderful holiday!