Candy and cookies, fruit cakes and more,
Parties and champagne and cocktails galore,
There goes my willpower right out the door!
Does this sound like you during the Holidays?
So many of us do our best to make it through the holidays on willpower alone, and we end up beating ourselves up when the pumpkin pie or the turkey stuffing talks us into abandoning our commitment to “not do it again.” What works instead, is to have a strategy in place so that you can still enjoy great foods, including those that have “Holiday Tradition” written all over them.
I’ve got eleven tips for you. They apply no matter what holiday you’re celebrating. Use them any time you’re gathering with people.
- Offer to host, so you have control over what kind of food is being served. You get to create the menu and do some of the cooking yourself. Cook whatever will support you in your healthy eating plan, then ask people to bring foods they enjoy. If you’re going somewhere else, offer to bring a dish that you can eat that does not screw up your eating routine; bring something that’s good for your body. Make it tasty and amazing; set the example by being the one who shows up with great tasting, healthy food. There are recipes all over the internet for great crowd-pleasing, healthy recipes for appetizers, main dishes, and desserts. Choose something you’ll enjoy that will also keep you on track with your health goals. Set yourself up for success.
- Fill your plate up with plants. Seventy-five percent vegetables and some fruit. Veggie and fruit trays at gatherings are your friend. Take a serving of meat (unless, of course, you are vegan or vegetarian) for the lean protein and fat and ditch the bread. Don’t eat those carbs; they’ll set your body making glucose and spike your insulin levels, and all of that gets packed right into your fat cellsas belly fat.
- Don’t show up to the party (or the table if you are hosting) hungry. Even though there will be plenty of food, set yourself up for success by eating a healthy breakfast and then eating again (even if it’s not quite time to eat your next meal) before you go. Make sure you eat a healthy snack, that’s filling like protein and fat. For example, make a big dish of scrambled eggs with avocado. It’s healthy, it will fill you up, it won’t spike your blood sugar. And most importantly, since you won’t be starving, you won’t hit the appetizer table the moment you arrive!
- Be choosy about what you put on your plate. People who are overeaters start at one end of the buffet line and put a scoop of every single thing on their plate. I challenge you to circle the buffet table, look closely at it, decide what you will eat and what you won’t eat. Have a game plan. A strategy is what helps you be successful. There is no rule that you have to eat every single thing offered, and you’re not going to offend anyone if you don’t eat what they brought. It’s okay to say, “That looks amazing, but it’s not on my eating plan right now.” Have a strategy and stick to it.
- Take a twenty-minute break. After you eat your plate of food, before you go back for seconds, give your body time to send signals to your brain that you’re full. Don’t go back for seconds right away.
- Don’t stand around and eat while holding your plate, gobbling it in, because you’re going to end up overeating if you do. Find a nice cozy place to sit down, invite people to join you, and settle in. Socialize between bites, chew slowly, enjoy the company, don’t fixate on the food. Make it more about the experience with these people you love and care about, your friends and family. Chances are you’ll end up getting full, and won’t even eat the whole plate anyway. That would be amazing!
- Keep your distance from the food table when you’re not putting food on your plate. Don’t hang out by the food table talking because you will end up eating just a little of this and a taste of that. Mindless grazing will add needless calories and empty chemicals to get your appetite going, and before you realize it, you’ll be at the bottom of the chip bowl you had no intention even to go near. So avoid hanging out next to the food table.
- Avoid alcohol, especially on an empty stomach. Alcohol stimulates us to eat more, and it also takes away your common sense, so the plan you had goes out the window. We are not fully in control when we drink. So, avoid alcohol. If you decide you’re going to have a drink, stay away from beer, wine, fruity drinks, and the drinks made with sweet sodas. Instead, choose a clear liquor with water or seltzer and a squeeze of lemon or lime. And, stop at one if you choose to have a drink. Set yourself up for success.
- Be the joyful person who starts a dance party, or a game. Get up and move your body and motivate others to do it with you. You’re going to have a much better time than if you just stand around by the chips and dip or sit in a corner by yourself. Be the fun person. Get everybody up and moving… have a good time.
- You get to decide what you’re going to eat for dessert, how much of it you’re going to eat and whether you’re even going to eat it. Don’t let dessert control you. Let’s say there are chocolate cake and apple pie and you have no control around chocolate cake. It’s a trigger food. You know if you have a piece of chocolate cake, you’re going to go back for a second piece. Instead, have the apple pie! Avoid the cake because you know the minute it’s in your mouth; you’re done for. You get to decide and to be honest with yourself. You get to be in control in front of that dessert table.
- Focus more on the social connection and the joy of being around loved ones and friends. Focus on what you can create regarding relationships and conversation. Don’t let the food take center stage in your experience. Instead, let the experience be about the people you’re with. Sit down, take time to talk with those people you rarely get to see. When all is said and done, make the memories about the people you were with rather than the food you ate.
Remember, the more you give into your cravings, the more you’re going to end up spiraling downward in your weight loss efforts and ultimately self-sabotage. Set yourself up for success.
My hope for you during this season is that you will enjoy every minute, using these strategies to create a way of being at social events at any time of the year.
Happy Holidays, and Take Good Care.