How to Stay on Track During the Holidays
By: Erica Hanner, Erica Jade Health
As the holiday season approaches, so do the parties, food, drinks, and festivities. It can sometimes seem like a never-ending stream of appetizers, desserts, candy, and other goodies inviting us to overeat. Then after we overindulge, we sometimes create our own feelings of guilt and shame. A lot of people struggle with negative feelings towards food and themselves. In the past, I felt these same feelings of regret as I gravitated towards sweets and overindulged my cravings. I want you to know that you don’t have to feel that way, and there is a way to overcome those feelings so you can enjoy festive foods and every holiday!
Toss Out Food Guilt and Shame
The holidays are meant to be enjoyed with friends and family, and yes, that includes food and drinks! I’ve learned so much as a holistic health coach. I am so grateful to have transitioned my nutrition into a guilt-free and delicious relationship instead of one full of worry or endless calorie counting. You can still have a slice of pie, dessert, or some cookies. It won’t derail you. Treat yourself. Everything is allowed in moderation. And, please do not shame yourself or feel guilty. You can always get back on track the next day or during the week ahead, as long as you have a plan to do so.
TIP: If everything looks too good to pass up, try taking several small samples instead of entire servings. And, don’t feel like you have to eat the whole piece just because you put it on your plate–it’s ok to toss the rest out. Or, pace yourself if time allows and save dessert for later or bring it home and save it for the next day.
Stick to a Healthy Eating Plan: Before, During, & After
Before the Party:
When prepping dishes during the week for a weekend party, make sure to have healthy choices readily available for your mid-week meals and snacks. Having fast and easy snacks on hand is always a great idea, like fresh fruits, veggies, protein bars, or nuts. One of my favorite ways to stay on track is to get chef-prepared meals from MightyMeals. They create healthy meals that are delivered fresh to your door! This saves me time and takes the stress out of cooking and eating during the holidays. MightyMeals has several delicious options on their menu, including vegan, gluten free, and even kid-friendly meals called MightyKids. They are all wonderful but one of my favorites is the Vegan Mediterranean Bowl.
TIP: Eating healthy and staying on track also keeps you on the road to a healthy gut. See my blog 5 Ways to Support Gut Health and how a healthy gut helps reduce anxiety and depression–mental health issues that often increase during the holidays.
During the Party:
Before you arrive at the event, have a plan that doesn’t include guilt or shame. Start by loading your plate up with healthy nutrients such as greens, whole grains, veggies, and healthy proteins. After you are done, fill in the space left with less healthy options, like dessert or chips and dip. This will allow you to feel better about your food decisions and help you avoid carb overload and experiencing sugar crashes a few hours later.
TIP: If you know that the party won’t have many healthy options, offer to bring one! This can also help friends and family get started with their own healthier eating habits.
After the Party:
First: Don’t step on the scale too soon! Indulging the day before will cause the scale to go up a few pounds due to inflammation and bloating from the less healthy foods. So don’t stress! That immediate weight gain is mostly water weight. With enough water and healthy, fiber-filled foods, the bloat will go away after a few days.
Second: Get back on track. Make your next meal nutrient- and fiber-filled and schedule your next physical activity session. With simple planning and healthy choices, you will find yourself back on track in no time.
Third: Whatever you indulge in, make sure you enjoy it and yourself. Remember that moderation is essential but, so is living your life to its fullest. You deserve to have your happiness and joy!
TIP: Add physical activity to your plan, if you can. After your meal, go for a walk with friends and family or start an annual soccer match or football game. Everyone will enjoy it!