This year, maybe more than ever, the stress of holidays might feel unmanageable. We are entering into the unknown and that added level of stress will have us even more scattered and frantic than in years past.
That does not have to mean all healthy eating flies out the window for the eight week long holiday madness that has threatened many a waistline in the past.
There are two places to pay more attention. The first one may be irrelevant unless you live in warm climates with outdoor parties. No matter the venue or the size of the socially distant gathering, mindfulness is key.
Mindfulness Tip #1: Be Present When You’re Out.
Often times holiday gatherings are full of nervous energy. It may be dinner wrought with family tension or an after hours office gathering of acquaintances that you’re supposed to act familiar around. Maybe chit-chat isn’t your forte or if you do know everyone they aren’t your forte.
Either way, we tend to arrive places and this anxious energy can send us straight for the bar or the buffet or both!
Did you know that stress effects your ability to digest properly? Stress hormones signal your brain to switch to perceived danger so your body starts hanging on for survival, especially to extra calories.
So, when you arrive, set yourself up for success.
- Eat before you go, even if you are not hungry. The feeling of fullness will help stay calm. If you arrive hungry, you may binge on the entire buffet to calm your nerves or your stomach.
- Take a moment when you get there to breathe and ground yourself in the idea that the gathering isn’t about the food. Mix and mingle a bit before you even head to the apps. This will help you make smarter (smaller) choices.
- If you do head for the buffet and bar, keep your portions small enough to taste but not to fill. If there is something you love, skip everything else and sink into the enjoyment of what you know is awesome.
I know what many of you are thinking: holiday parties in 2020? You are missing something lady.
Ok, so you may not be heading out to many gatherings but that still doesn’t mean overeating isn’t a holiday risk.
Mindfulness Tip 2: Be Present at Home.
We tend to go on autopilot during this season. The constant to-do list of holiday duties that we have to keep up with all while still maintaining our regular day to day routines can be exhausting.
As a way of coping, we stop paying attention and just march through days until January. Without intentionality, things like meals often fall away.
Suddenly, reaching for a handful of chocolate chips counts as lunch. Breakfast becomes coffee with a side of leftovers pasta salad from a family gathering.
Remind yourself that Thanksgiving and Christmas are each one day. And while Kwanzaa and Hanukkah are 7 and 8, they are not a festivals of food for the entire time.
Continue with your regular routines as much as possible. Plan and make your breakfast, lunch and dinners as you do all year.
Look at the calendar to know when you’ll be pressed for time because of extra events or duties to complete. Then plan head with quick salads or reheated frozen meals or leftovers instead of relying on takeout or the mall food court for nourishment.
Other Tips for Healthy Eating During the Holidays
- Keep healthy snacks like nuts, dried fruit or granola in hand-bags and cars for late-night travel or shopping.
- Incorporate as many vegetables into your daily diet as always. They are not only healthy, but filling as well. So, you won’t be as tempted by sweets.
- Sit down one evening soon and look at your month. Add in all that needs to be accomplished or attended or hosted. Then plug meals into those days so you’re not caught off guard and hungry right outside the Auntie Anne’s.
- Keep stuff out of the house. Even if you need sugar and caramel for that special dish your making, you don’t need extra of those items that might tempt you to nip at them all month long. Buy what you need, remove the rest.
The key to staying healthy during the holidays is to remember the Day part of holiday. Be mindful of your time and energy and try not view the seasons as a time to disconnect and satisfy in the moment.
Remember, staying intentional means that hen when you do partake in some of your coworkers toffee, or your father’s signature cocktail or the neighbor’s famous cookies, you can truly enjoy them instead of just consuming them. Isn’t that the best guilt of all.
P.S. Looking for more parenting guidance and tips for self-care? Check out From Chaos to Calm a guided training to help you feel better in this tough season.