It’s that time of year ladies and gents! The holiday season is upon us, and Thanksgiving is tomorrow. Yikes! Pumpkin spice everything, will soon give way to peppermint mocha. The weather is dipping its toes into arctic temperatures. Christmas lists for Santa are well under way. It’s that time of year that diets get put on hold, exercise routines get forgotten about, and any sense of self-control is severely put to the test. But no fear, KMB is here!
Plenty of sites will give you tips on how to be healthier this holiday season. There are an infinite number of low-cal, low-fat, no-fat, sugar free, gluten free, etc., recipes out there. You won’t find that here. I’ve got five tips for you, to help get you into the new year, with a little less regret, and hopefully, a little less around the waistline. And I think you’ll be happy with Tip #1!
1. EAT WHAT YOU WANT, INCLUDING DESSERT
That’s right, I said eat what you want! Now, don’t confuse that with how much you want, but we’ll get to that in a second. Those of you already skeptical, stick with me here. Whenever we attempt to limit ourselves, particularly by cutting things out cold-turkey (pun possibly intended), our cravings will inevitably come back and bite us in the ass. Holidays are typically social occasions, where many people will visit multiple houses, or parties during a single season, or even a single day. This means more opportunities for those cravings to kick into hyperdrive, causing us to gorge ourselves on those same things we told ourselves to avoid. Eating should be about enjoyment and satisfaction, not engorgement and regret.
How many people can relate to this scenario … You sit down for Thanksgiving lunch, with the intent of being as healthy as possible. You take a sliver of turkey, pass on the stuffing and gravy, load up from the raw veggie plate, and sip on your ice water with lemon. Did you make healthy choices? Possibly. Did you enjoy your meal? Hell no!
Then off to another house. By now, you’re unsatisfied, with a rumbling tummy, and no self-control. The instant you smell the turkey, any resolve you had is gone, and your plate is piled so high with food, it resembles the plates you see people with at buffet restaurants. You then inhale it, not really tasting anything, and have to do the traditional pop of the pants button. Yet you still force down that slice of pie, simply because it’s there, and it’s “tradition”.
Instead, I dare you to eat what you want the first time. Put some gravy on your turkey, eat a roll, and savor that piece of fruitcake (if you’re into that sort of thing). Get the idea that some things are off-limits, out of your head, and enjoy your holiday experience. This way, by the time you hit house number two at dinner time, you’re not overcompensating from putting the breaks on, during round one. But this is where Tip #2 come into play.
2. KNOW YOUR PORTION SIZES
Remember how I said to eat what you want, but not how much you want? Just because it’s the season of giving, doesn’t mean it’s the season of giving yourself a heart attack. Get to know what a portion size looks like! You can actually be fully satisfied without eating a whole trough of mashed potatoes and gravy.
Give yourself a hand…full. Portion control doesn’t need to mean busting out the scale. All you need is your hand, to give approximate portion sizes, and eyeball how much you’re having. Obviously, it’s not an exact science, but it’s better than eating your stuffing out of a measuring cup at your in-laws.
One cup = One fist (bread/veggies)
Half cup = Cupped hand (potatoes/pasta)
3-5oz meat = One palm (protein)
One Tbl = One thumb (dressing/cheese)
One tsp = One finger tip (oil/butter)
Enjoy what you want this holiday season, but do it in moderation. You may actually be surprised how satisfied you feel when you allow yourself to indulge in a small amount of holiday goodies. Watch your portions with the first serving, and allow time for it to settle for a minimum of 10-15 minutes, before going after round two. It typically takes 20 minutes to feel full after a meal, but I know during the holidays, it can be a fight over the last roll. If you need to, forgo the last roll, and save room for the first sliver of pie.
3. DON’T JUSTIFY, EXPLAIN, OR APOLOGIZE TO OTHERS
Speaking of the in-laws, or friends, or complete strangers, don’t feel like you should have to explain yourself, if you actually do want to eat your stuffing out of a measuring cup. Obviously, don’t be blatantly rude, but don’t feel like you need to apologize if you pass on the second helping. Weight loss takes a lot of effort, and sometime, meticulous planning. You are working hard on making a better life, and that is nothing to be sorry for.
During the holidays, for some unexplainable reason, the idea that trying to eat healthy is something to be ridiculed for. You watch your portions, or decide to pass on dessert, and all of a sudden, you get a barrage of questions and pressure about why you’re not wearing your dinner plate as a feed bag. (Try to avoid that visual when you sit down to for this Thanksgiving dinner.) In some ways, it can feel shaming to not over indulge, yet any other time of the year, you would be praised.
Putting on a thick skin is not easy, especially around family, or when it comes to what’s on our plate, but be strong. Keep in mind how proud of yourself you’ll be in an hour, when the rest of the family is lounging in a turkey induced coma, barely able to move. Since when did this become an enjoyable pastime?! Personally, feeling nauseous is not my idea of a good time.
4. FIND AN ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNER
If staying strong is tough, find a partner. Whether it’s your spouse, or a friend that you may need to bribe with a future shopping trip, bring someone with you to dinner. Try to make sure they are in the same mental place that you are trying to be. They can be your rock when the pressuring comments start flying, or your they can be the one to subtly knock the spoon out of your hand if you start reaching for helping number three. Remember how I said to watch your portions?!
“Subtly” is the key word. Nothing is more embarrassing than being asked in front of the entire family, “Should you be eating that?” I could die! Before you get to dinner, talk about what you’re thinking about having, and how much. Come up with some type of a code phrase before you go, that secretly asks the should you be eating that question, minus the mortification.
“Did we remember to shut the back door?”
aka, shut your mouth before shoveling in another bite
“What time was my appointment tomorrow?”
aka, watch how quickly you’re shoveling in that next bite
“Did we put that doctor’s bill in the mail?”
aka, don’t stab your parent/sibling, or we will have a doctor’s bill to put in the mail
5. ALLOW YOURSELF “A” DRINK
Please do not confuse this with getting shlockered! Again, portions people! This tip is only for those who can/should drink. If you are under 21, step away from the booze. If drinking is a problem, then obviously pass. Drinking not your thing, skip ahead to the next tip. I won’t be offended.
While it’s supposed to be “the most wonderful time of the year”, the holidays can also be the most stressful time of the year. To avoid the aforementioned doctor’s bill, allow yourself a single drink, if it helps take the edge off the stress. That doesn’t mean the entire bottle of wine, with a straw, but a normal glass. There have been numerous reported health benefits of red wine, and a single glass can be enough to help bring the stress level down to a palatable level, and might keep your diet a little more under control, instead of drowning your emotions in the bottom of a pie tin.
Again, drink responsibly! And please, for everyone’s health and safety,
do not drink and drive!
If you want to skip the alcohol, but still need a little stress relief, excuse yourself for 5-10 minutes, where you can have some undisturbed time for yourself. Ask to borrow an extra bedroom, or even go sit in the car if need be. Sometimes removing yourself from a stressful situation for even five minutes, can work wonders for continuing the evening. There are some amazing guided meditation apps that can help guide you down off that emotional ledge. Once again, don’t apologize for taking time to take care of your mind, as much as your diet.
Bonus tIP. START A NEW TRADITION,
THAT DOESN’T INVOLVE FOOD
While the holidays do revolve around the dinner table, once dinner is over, instead of lounging in over-indulged agony, start a new tradition. Weather permitting, tell everyone to grab a coat, and head out for a walk. Make it a game for the kids to see how many different colored leaves they can find. Check out the houses who jumped the gun, and hung their Christmas lights the day after Halloween.
Need to keep it indoors? Turn off the TV (in between football games/parades if necessary), and try a new game. This last Christmas, my family played a festive themed game of Pictionary for the first time. While it admittedly seemed a little awkward at first, by the end, we were all hysterically laughing, and talking about what this year’s game list would need to include. And who doesn’t want a year of bragging rights after winning by a landslide?!
HAVE A HAPPY, and HEALTHIER, HOLIDAY SEASON
Hopefully these tips will help you enjoy this season a little more. The holidays are meant to be spent with those we love, in a time of joy, and thankfulness. Surround yourself with happiness, make the food and presents a secondary thought, and focus on what you are grateful for this season. Eat, and drink responsibly, and stay safe this holiday season.
So have a happy, and healthier, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year.
God bless you all.