I'm salivating just writing that! I am a sucker for the sweets myself.
And I've spent many a winter lamenting my perceived lack of self-control around food and the inevitable weight gain that came along with it. January found me noticeably softer and not happy about it.
But I've honed a few effective strategies over the years that help me maintain my healthy habits while keeping my enjoyment of the holidays intact.
Because let's face it. Missing out on holiday favorites and feeling deprived is no fun. But neither is eating until we're forced to unbutton our jeans.
Finding that middle of the road intersect between satisfaction and restraint can be tricky, but is critical to our long-term success.
Here are 8 practical strategies to implement over these next few days:
1. Downsize your dinnerware.
Research has shown that using smaller plates will help you to consume less by tricking your brain into thinking the portion sizes are bigger than they are. Also, drinking out of a tall, skinny glass vs short wide glass will do the same for your alcoholic beverages.
2. Eat mindfully.
Chew slowly, savoring each bite. Pay close attention to your body’s hunger and satiety signals, aiming for 80% full (just enough to feel satisfied and no longer hunger).
3. Prioritize protein and veggies.
Load up one half of your plate with veggies (preferably without butter or creamy sauces, but don't sweat this too much), a quarter or more of lean protein, and the rest starchy carbs or treat-type foods.
4. Indulge with discernment.
Make sure your indulgences are worth it! Don't waste your time on the stuff you can have all year long, like candy. If you're going to treat yo' self, go for the things that only make an appearance this time or year and that are your absolute favorite. And then really savor it. Enjoy the shit out of that treat!
5. Bring own "health-ified" dish or raw veggies to make sure you have a healthier option.
SkinnyTaste.com is a good resource for this. I'm not saying that you need to bring your own meal in Tupperware, just that fitting in some low-cal, low-sugar, high-fiber foods can keep you feeling good and not break the bank, calorie-wise.
6. Get movement in whenever possible.
Whether that's a short at-home workout or a leisure walk or a full-out gym session, pencil it in your schedule and commit ahead of time. It’s also important to frame it as something we “get to do” vs something we “have to do.”
See it as an important part of your self-care routine, just like brushing your teeth or drinking water. It’s your “me time” and relief from the inevitable stresses of the holiday. Buddy up with a friend and make it quality social time. Play games and make it fun. If you need some ideas for short and sweet workouts you can do anywhere, get your free copy of my Fast Fit Challenge workout guide here.
Important note: Don't use exercise to earn your food or as a punishment for overindulging. This is an unhealthy mindset that only sets you up for more stress and failure.
7. Avoid skipping meals.
You don't want to arrive famished and ready to eat everything in sight. "Saving up" calories for a big meal or a party later is just asking for trouble. You're more likely to wolf down your food, throwing mindfulness out the window, and ignoring your body's satiety signals.
8. Stay off the scale!
With the increased carbs, sodium, sugar, and alcohol, not to mention the late nights and stress, you're bound to gain a bit of water weight. Don't let this stress you out! This water can be shed within a few days, especially if you keep your veggies and water intake high.
The important thing is that we continue cementing these habits into our lives and keep that momentum (that we’ve so worked for) going. This can be done without sacrificing our enjoyment of the season and without getting neurotic about it.
Bottom line: Don’t stress the details; just do your best.
Happy holidays, everyone! :-)