a nutrition series by Michelle Chappel
The Holiday season has arrived. Just one day after Halloween and Christmas music is already playing in the stores. Entrances smell like cinnamon and pine. It’s the time of year for feasting, pies, holiday parties, cookies, cocktails, & treats galore.
While it can be a special time of year, we want to make sure we’re not taking steps backwards on our fitness and nutrition progress. The temptation to give in and enjoy the season will eventually creep up on us come January. Giving in to treats over and over, indulging in festive drinks, not to mention the cold and darkness creeping in making you crave warm comfort food. It’s no joke. But don’t stress, once again I’m here to help you navigate the holiday season with confidence!
Follow these strategies on how to keep yourself in check and avoid falling off the sleigh this season.
Let’s talk about food. This time of year can be extremely stressful for people trying to keep to a strict nutrition plan or working towards a healthy relationship with food. I want to remind you, I’m always here to help, and I don’t mean just in this post. If you struggle with your relationship with food, come find me, I can help. We don’t often acknowledge unhealthy eating behaviors. You may feel like you’re the only one struggling with this, you may feel pressure in a social gathering, find yourself skipping out because you’re uncomfortable eating around others. Let me just remind you that you’re not alone. The community at EverProven is so supportive. You’re always welcome and always among friends here. So join the party and don’t worry about anyone judging you for what you are or are not eating. After all, maybe you ate before you came.
This brings me to one of the first strategies for survival, eat before you go out.
Don’t want to be tempted by all the treats, cookies, and cocktails. Make sure you eat healthy throughout the day and don’t skip meals with the intention to overeat. That’s setting yourself up to take steps backward. If you’re going to a holiday party or gathering where there’s most likely going to be treats and food offered, eat a small but balanced meal before. This way you’re not going to the party on an empty stomach but you’re also permitting yourself to enjoy if your favorite treat appears. It’s ok to give in on occasion.
Fill your plate with protein and non-starchy veggies first.
Think palm-size portions when you load up on protein. Then add only a taste of your favorite starches last. Eat these in the same order: protein, veggies, then starches. Proteins and veggies will keep you full and help you manage how much of the sides you eat. Sure, the sides are great, but these are the highest in fats and calories.
Think portion control.
Maybe you know you’ll want to try all the fixings. Just take a sample, and I mean a bite or two, of each of your favorites. Try not to load up a full serving of each because, unlike your typical meal where you’ll have a side or two along with your protein, you’re most likely going to have four or more different options for starches, veggies, and proteins to choose from.
Maybe you love cookies and permitted yourself to enjoy a treat. They only have snickerdoodle cookies which you don’t like; ginger cookies are your jam. Don’t just eat the snickerdoodle because you already decided you’re going to eat a cookie. Skip it and save that treat for something you really like or another day. The same can apply to the dinner table. If someone passes the sweet potato casserole your way and you don’t like it with melted marshmallows on top, simply keep passing it on. Save space for your favorites like more Brussels sprouts.
Choose water with meals.
Drinks such as cocktails, beer, wine, eggnog, juice, soda, you name it, these all contain calories. And if you’re already over-consuming your target calories-per-day, stick to water when you’re feasting.
Be Mindful while eating.
Not trying to get all woo-woo on you, but paying attention to what you’re eating can have a major effect on how you feel this holiday season. Sit down at the table, break bread with family and friends, enjoy a toast, be thankful and be mindful. It’s not all about the food. It’s about the experience, the company, the love, and the tradition that goes into the preparation and presentation. If you slow down and enjoy the taste of the turkey, or great-grandma’s stuffing recipe, you not only think about the food you’re eating but the memory of helping great-grandma in the kitchen as a kid. Comfort foods are often foods that make you feel good, there’s a pleasant experience that goes along with them. It’s not just the taste but the smell and the memories.
Slow your pace.
Put the fork down after each bite, chew your food, and taste it. Enjoy some conversation. Next thing you know your brain and your stomach might connect telling you, you’ve had enough. YOU DON’T HAVE TO CLEAN YOUR PLATE! I can’t stress this enough. Don’t let your great-aunt guilt you into it. If you don’t overfill it, you don’t have to feel bad about wasting it in the first place. And even if you do overfill it, you never should feel guilted into overeating. There will always be leftovers, there will always be food thrown away. Your well-being is more important than eating to avoid guilt. After all, Mom ultimately wants you to be healthy and happy rather than uncomfortable and sick.
Lastly, look at the holidays as a day, not a week, a month, or a season. Remember that because it’s ok to splurge on just one day. Desserts and treats are reserved for special occasions. Not every day and you’ll be fine.
Cheers! & Happy Eating.