The holiday season holds a lot of tradition, but feeling guilty around food should be left far, far behind. Remind yourself of these 5 tips as you approach and embrace the heck out of the holiday season:
1. One or two or three meals won't redefine you (and you shouldn't define your worth through food anyways)
Okay, let's do a quick calculation here. Let's say you eat 3 meals a day, minimum. Therefore, 3 x 30 days equals 90-ish meals over the course of the month. Now, let's say we have 5 holiday events, equaling 5 meals.
If you were to sit in guilt because of the food at your holiday festivities, you would (a) put a damper on your holiday festivities and, (b) be completely missing the fact that 94% of your eating routine remains the same.
The point here, is that one or two or five meals won't redefine your health. If you have consistent, mindful and whole-food focused routine for the other 85 meals a month, a couple meals aren't going to destroy the habits you are building and the improvements you are striving for.
The bottom line: Focus your energy on your overall day-to-day food consumption, and less on what you eat during the-most-won-der-ful-tiiiiime-oooooof-the-yeaaaaar!
2. Be mindful of your hunger - or lack there of.
Now, if you are feeling good about the holiday season that lies before you, it becomes a great opportunity to practice mindful eating.
First, take the time to notice how your body feels before eating. Then, avoid shovelling food in your mouth just because there are trays and trays in front of you. Instead, consider paying attention to the taste of the food and recognize your level of hunger - or lack there of.
Taking extra time to actually put your fork down between bites and converse with your dinner company means more opportunity to gently satisfy your hunger - and maybe, just maybe, you'll be left without a food coma.
But wait, will you still overeat because it's habit? Probably.
Is that 'normal'? Yes, because, well, unfortunately it's a popular habit.
HOWEVER, if you were anyyyyy more mindful than previous holiday meals, that's a win in itself AND can begin to change the course of your eating habits altogether. Go ahead, try it.
3. Be the instigator of the veggie tray, and own it.
The topic of true and proper health has only been gaining steam over the years, and I'm personally thrilled about it. People want to feel better about themselves; People want to prioritize their nutrition to optimize their abilities, so chances are, you don't even have to go around promoting the importance of eating vegetables because people will pick at it if it's there.
By being the instigator of the veggie tray, you give yourself, your family and your friends an opportunity to fill up on the fibre and nutrients of whole foods before indulging in all the other goodness that's to come.
You can purchase one from the grocery store, or you can prepare your own with popular, local and seasonal veggies like carrots, broccoli, cauliflower as well as greenhouse cherry tomatoes, cucumber and peppers. Note: If anyone gives you grief about upgrading the natural array of colours at the party, perhaps you can politely tell them you are seeking to benefit your personal health and their health, all while creating a better future. That, my friend, isn't even an argument.
4. It's not an all-or-nothing holiday season
Just because you have 5 holiday meals, doesn't mean December is a write-off. Just because you overate once, doesn't mean it's become your daily, weekly or official holiday habit. Just because you missed a couple workouts at the beginning of the week, doesn't mean you have to miss the rest.
Overindulgence doesn't have to lead to deprivation, and in fact, it's a dangerous and draining cycle to be trapped in. There is such thing as a happy medium, and I believe it is the sweet spot of sustainable nutrition, eating habits and your mental well-being around food.
Work to balance your hefty meals with your regular eating routine, quality food with the more 'sugary' desserts, water with alcohol, and days off with movement.
Remember, everyone agrees that balance is good, but you get to decide what's best for you.
5. Indulge - on family, friends and food. Christmas only comes once a year.
Sure, I'll certainly be considering better alternatives to the classic holiday dishes as per usual, but my Aunt's sugar cookies and trifle won't be in front of me for another 365 days so you can bet your bottom dollar that I'll be getting a taste of it.
To some extent, I hope you do the same.
The purpose of the holiday season (or any season, ever) isn't to count your calories consumed versus calories burned, your plates of food, your drinks or your servings of dessert. Instead of talking about the caloric substance of food, gaining weight or your physical body, enjoy what's around you; the traditions of the holiday season, creating memories with your loved ones and, of course, the taste of good food.
THE III (MORE) TIPS
Even if your schedule looks a little different over the holidays, find similar routine where you can. If you normally meal prep on Sundays, stick with it. If you hit the gym 5x a week, stick with it. If you always have water before coffee or tea before bed, stick with it.
Practice your mindful eating away from holiday meals. See if you can be the last one to finish up, or test yourself on how long slowly you can eat when by yourself. Put your utensils down, instigate conversation and truly taste the food in front of you.
Exercise shouldn't be placed into your holiday plans just because you feel bad about the food you've eaten. Eating shouldn't be punished, and movement should be seen as a beneficial component of your health and well-being. Even walks with your family and light activity at home can be a game-changer for your mental and physical health over the busy holiday season - so, seriously, find ways to get it where you can.
Did you find any of this blog helpful? Share with a friend who might need it or comment your favourite tip in my latest Instagram post. Happy holidays, my friends!