If you’re like me, you find the holidays to be one of the most stressful times of the year.
Between gift buying, entertaining, and traveling to be near family, it’s no wonder one major stressors of the holiday season is the one that most of us want to avoid at all costs until the New Year – overeating or overindulging all the yummy treats that come with the holiday season.
Stress is one of the most common reasons we turn to overindulging and overeating during the holidays. We overeat to help us cope with our emotions of dealing with family, money, and out of sheer comfort. We overindulge, because there’s a pressure of “it only comes but once a year” looming over our heads, so we must eat all the holiday goodies before they’re gone again for the year.
But it IS possible to have a holiday season where stress is kept to a minimum and your eating is still on track. Yes, even on track enough to keep you in your skinny jeans come the first of the year.
Not sure how? Check out these 10 tips for NOT overindulging this holiday season:
1. Make a plan
Going to a holiday party in the evening? Plan out what you will eat the rest of the day, so that you can balance out your choices throughout the day. You can plan to set aside one or two indulgences, but keep lunch as lighter fare.
2. Don’t skip meals
Don’t skip breakfast or lunch just because you plan to eat at an event in the evening. This concept of “saving calories” doesn’t work and you will end up feeling famished by the time you allow yourself to eat – and likely indulge a little more than you anticipated. It’s not worth it. Make healthy choices before the event and you’re far less likely to overdo it.
This might sound silly, but if you’re feeling overwhelmed by temptation, excuse yourself for five or ten minutes to breathe. Focus on your breath and recenter yourself to deal with the situation. Having a few moments to reconnect with yourself can help keep you in line with the plan you’ve set out for yourself.
4. Drink more water and less alcohol
Most of us don’t get enough water each day and with the added excitement of the holidays, drinking alcohol only makes us more dehydrated. You don’t have to cut out drinking alcohol entirely, just be sure to drink water between drinks and be mindful of the drinks you do take.
5. Make healthy swaps
When it comes to creating meals or treats for the holidays, oftentimes our healthy choices end once the stove or oven turns on. Make some healthy swaps with natural sweeteners instead of sugar in sweets and baked goods, swap out whipped cream for whipped coconut milk to go on your pie, and “sneak” in some healthier sweet potatoes or squash with your mashed potatoes. These are just a few ideas – get creative!
6. Portion control
Remember that just because it’s a holiday, it doesn’t mean that portions don’t exist. I’m including this one, because I tend to be a person where more is better. When I like something, I want more of it. Portions are the same on holidays and at holiday events as they are any other day of the week. Load up on veggies and lighten up the other areas of your plate.
7. Keep realistic and consistent
Many of us can be hard on ourselves this time of year, so I recommend staying realistic about your health goals. This probably isn’t the right time to be trying to lose weight – maintaining weight is a much more realistic goal for anyone. Stick to your consistent eating and exercise schedule and make sure you’re doing some good things for yourself (not only others) too.
8. Don’t worry
If you overindulge at one event, don’t worry about it. You don’t need to start in on a crash diet just because you had one too many pieces of pie. Every time you pick up your fork is a new opportunity to change your eating habits – pick it up and move forward with healthy choices.
9. Be prepared
If you plan to attend events where you know there will be tables upon tables of holiday cookies or tempting foods, make sure you eat beforehand or come with a healthy snack in your bag or car to rely on. When you have a healthy choice available to you at all times, it becomes that much easier to make it in tough situations.
10. Indulge mindfully
It is the holiday season after all – you are SUPPOSED to indulge and enjoy yourself! Heck, I am counting down the days to enjoying my grandma’s sweet potato pie! The key to remember about indulging is to be fully mindful when you are. This means focusing in on the flavors, texture, smell, and every other little thing you love about it. When you’re mindful of the experience, even a little can go a long way.
Now it’s your turn – what do you find to be the most challenging part of keeping from overindulging during the holidays? Share in the comments below.