It’s here…..the holiday season is here. As you read this, Thanksgiving is around the corner and after that the season is in full swing. Whatever your holiday style, be it going to events and parties, or casual and laid back time with family and friends, the common denominator seems to be lots more occasions to potentially indulge in holiday feasts of one sort or another. If you are trying to eat healthfully, or even lose weight, possibilities for getting off-track abound.
Here are some simple ideas for navigating – and enjoying – holiday parties and dinners, so that you come away with your healthy eating plan intact.
- Have a plan. Instead of being restrictive, having a plan can be freeing. Look at it this way – if you know you are going to be eating a certain way, you won’t be tempted to make unhealthy decisions at the restaurant or buffet table. If you are going gluten-free, then you make decisions based around that. If you are currently on Weight Watcher’s or a Mediterranean eating plan, you don’t have to think about what you will have – you eat according to your plan. Having a plan in advance saves you from having to make in-the-moment decisions, and indulging in ways you won’t feel good about later.
- Speaking of buffets…… The buffet table is a place where we can get tripped up with the best of intentions. Lots of choices, combined with the opportunity for second helpings, can spell trouble for even the most committed. Having a plan in place there can help, too. How about this for starters: One trip to the buffet, one plate.
Have what you like, enjoy some holiday favorites, but limit yourself to one helping. Most buffets these days offer healthy options, so you really don’t have to get completely off-track. If there is a dish you really want to try, go ahead and include it. Your overall goal is to be healthy and eat well, and enjoying your favorite dishes in moderation are not going to sink those efforts.
- Parties are about people. Holiday parties include catching up with friends and family we don’t get to see at other times, and it’s great to do that over good food. Parties are about socializing and celebrating our connections with others. If you find yourself tempted to overeat, it might be time to move on and find that old friend from home you want to catch up with. Focusing on enjoying the company can provide just the distraction you need in that moment, as well as being fun. And isn’t that why you’re there?
- Don’t forget to exercise! I’m not going to list all the numerous benefits of exercise here because by now we all know them. I will, however, encourage you to keep up your exercise routine during the season. It can be tempting to let our workouts go when we feel pressed for time, but it’s actually the best time to make exercise a priority. Regular exercise keeps stress at bay, energy up and weight in check.
- Give yourself a break. I try to help my clients adopt the idea that a healthy lifestyle is a “marathon, and not a sprint.” In the course of life, there will be ups and downs and the same is true for making changes to how and what we eat. If you go off your plan and splurge on something you feel you shouldn’t have, it’s ok. Give yourself permission to not have to be perfect. Above all, don’t say something to yourself like: “Well, I blew it. I must as well go ahead and really blow it, and start over again tomorrow.” Everyone blows it at times. Just acknowledge it and move on.
The holidays are a time to give thanks for and enjoy the gifts of family and friends and the blessings we share. As we go into the season, my wish for you is that you enjoy all the abundance your heart can hold!
Coach’s action step: Take one of the tips above and put it to work for you at a holiday event. Have a plan. If you’re going to a buffet, try one trip to the buffet table, and one plate. Take time to schedule your workouts for the week in your calendar, and make that time non-negotiable. Make healthy eating and enjoyment a priority – they do go together!