They see me eating the brie with soft crusty bread (and she’s going back for more!), then later headed to the dessert table for a few holiday cookies (how could she?!). They can’t help wonder how on earth I do it — keep my weight in check and help other women do the same.
The trick is to avoid all the typical holiday diet “advice” — avoid certain foods, eat before the party, only take one serving.
Instead, you need to approach the holidays (and frankly, ALL year) with an easier and softer approach for both body and mind.
Here are some of my favorite suggestions:
1) Make every bite count. Do you want to fill up on all the appetizers and then not have room for dessert? When you arrive at a party take a look at all the food and decide what it is that you really want to eat. What are the foods that are special to you. You can have the basic cheese and boxed crackers any time of year. But that beautiful brie and soft crusty bread — well, that would be a treat.
Don’t use up your ‘food budget’ on things you don’t really like much or enjoy. Don’t go picking all the healthy foods because that’s what you’ve been told. Instead, decide which foods you love the most, or the special foods you only get during the holidays, and eat those. Because too much self-denial stirs up cravings that only get stronger and lead you to overeat or binge later on.
2) Stay aware. It can be too easy to be in deep conversation and not really pay attention to what you’re eating, or your hunger level. So whether you’re eating a full plate, or just having a cookie, stay aware and take the time to pay attention to how your body feels and stop eating when you’re full.
3) Move away. Once you’ve filled your plate, just walk away. It’s just too darn tempting (and easy) to mindlessly nibble on what’s next to you. So try not to socialize too much right next to the buffet table.
4) Arrive hungry. That’s right, hungry. Ignore the old diet advice to “eat beforehand so you won’t arrive hungry.” What’s the point of not arriving hungry? You want to be hungry so you can enjoy some of your favorite foods. Just don’t arrive famished. There’s a difference. You don’t want to arrive so hungry that you eat everything in sight. But come with an appetite, the whole point of the holidays is to enjoy the special food.
5) Just say no. Just because Aunt Sally made her holiday cheesecake (and it’s not one of your favorites) doesn’t mean you have to eat it. And if she, or anyone else, insists all you have to do is politely say “no, thanks.” Don’t let people push food on you if it’s not really what you want. Remember, eat what’s really special (see #1) and you don’t want to eat to please others and get too stuffed.
6) Watch emotions. Oftentimes we use food to comfort ourselves during the holidays. Though it’s meant to be a happy and joyous time of year, realistically it can get stressful. And once that plate of cookies is gone, whatever it is you ate about is still there. So be aware if any negative or sad emotions come up. It happens (even to me) but I make sure I don’t eat to fill an emotion and instead eat to fill my stomach.
7) Self-care. As it can get stressful this time of year, there’s so much to do that you need to remember to take care of yourself. You don’t have to attend every party. Go to the ones you really want to. And be sure to get some sleep. I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but getting sleep is so vital. And if you can get in some exercise, that’s great too. Just don’t use exercise as a ‘punishment’ for overeating.
The moral: The holidays are meant to be special. So make it just that. Eat special foods, be with special people and treat yourself special too. And most of all enjoy and eat without guilt.