I Used to Associate the Holidays with Food-Fear, Dread and Guilt

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Can you believe the holiday season is already in full swing? I love the holidays now, but there was a period in my life when I associated the holidays with food-fear, dread and guilt because of the negative impact they had on my health. Back in the day, I had no control over my sugar cravings and would find myself 5-10 lbs heavier by the New Year. It sucked.

"There was a time in my life when I associated the holidays with food-fear, dread and guilt."

Over the years I’ve learned how to enjoy the holidays, indulge in my favorite holiday treats mindfully and enter the New Year feeling good in my choices…and in my skinny jeans.

Here are a few simple tips that will help you do the same:


HOLD TRUE TO YOUR NORMAL DAILY ROUTINES AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE

Do not abandon health routines and put self-care on the back-burner. I see this all the time. We work hard all year long and then use the holiday season as a free pass to go crazy and get lazy. We can do a LOT of damage in the time between Halloween and New Years. 

There’s no need to let temptations and instant gratification get in the way of what you want most for your health. 

  • Eat the way you normally do all year long and choose just a couple of days to indulge.

You do not need to eat all the treats at all the parties, and every day in between, all holiday season long.

  • Decide on your ‘non-negotiables’. These are the things that you do for yourself that keep you on your health and fitness path that you refuse to give up. For me it’s my exercise, eating high quality food, limiting sugar and getting enough SLEEP.

INDULGE IN HOLIDAY MEALS- BUT MINDFULLY AND WITH LIMITATIONS

With all of the delicious treats filling our holiday table, it's pretty easy to pack in a week's worth of calories in one sitting.

  • Pick the foods you want to indulge in, but limit yourself to one serving and one plate full.
  • Leave room on that plate for dessert.
  • Take a few deep breaths before eating. This lets your body chill out and go from “Fight or Flight” mode to “Rest and Digest”. Being in the rest and digest state will help you digest better, feel satisfied sooner and allow you to thoroughly enjoy your meal.
  • Eat slowly and put your fork down in between bites. Enjoy every bite.
  • Chew, chew, chew.
  • Pay attention to how you feel and WHY you are eating. Holiday times bring up many emotions and it is easy to eat to cover up feelings instead of eating to fulfill hunger on a cellular level. Think about whether you are missing someone, feeling lonely, angry, sad.
  • After you finish that plate full, put your plate and utensils in the sink. You'll be less likely to dig in for seconds when you don’t have a plate in front of you.
  • Tempted to pick? Brush your teeth. I bring my toothbrush and toothpaste with me to parties. No shame here!
  • If you are a picker, avoid being the one to clear the food from the table. Instead volunteer to do the dishes. Or pop gum or a mint in your mouth.

WHAT TO DO WITH THOSE LEFTOVERS

  • Keep the proteins and veggies
  • Get rid of anything that doesn’t serve you. You don’t need to have 4 pies in your house all week…what do you think is going to happen?
  • Pack up to go containers for guests
  • Give to the homeless
  • Throw them away. YES…it is OK to throw away food that leads you away from your health goals, causes you to overeat or brings on a sense of guilt when you eat it.

DO NOT COMPROMISE YOUR EXERCISE OVER THE HOLIDAYS

With all of the extra things to pack into our already over packed schedules, the temptation to skimp out on our exercise routine is strong. But the positive impact of exercise on our mood and stress levels is needed more than ever during the holiday season. 

  • Plan out your training a couple of weeks in advance. Jogs, bike rides, walks, yoga...put them all in your calendar. 
  • Sign up for an exercise program for the next few weeks. I already have my Orangetheory classes scheduled into the New Year. 
  • Get rid of the "All Or Nothing" mentality. "If I can't do an hour I won't do anything". Walk, do a 10-minute Tabata, try a YouTube yoga video.  Every bit of movement you can fit into your day means something and those short bursts of exercise add up. 
  • Change up your schedule to hit the gym earlier to get a workout in before everyone else gets up.  This way you get your workout in and have plenty of time for hanging with the family and enjoying holiday festivities. 

Most importantly, remember that the holidays are not about binge eating. They are a time to spend with family and friends, reflect on the things that are most important to you and practice gratitude. Try spending the first few moments after you wake up thinking about at least one thing you are grateful for. The effect can be pretty powerful. 

Happy Holidays Friends!