What is it about the holidays that can completely dismantle healthy habits?! For me, it's the limitless sweets, bottomless wine, and the packed social calendar that disrupts my exercise, meditation and sleep schedule. Putting your finger on what derails you is the first step in preventing the fall down the slippery slope.
Here are some strategies I'll be using this year to holiday-proof my wellness goals. I may not be in control of what food is offered to me, but I sure am in control of what I put on my plate.
- Eat at regular intervals to maintain your blood sugar, reduce your experience of stress and curb your cravings. Don't skip a meal to save your appetite for a feast. This is a recipe for emergency hunger and poor impulse control. Instead, have a meal every 3 hours or so. If you're traveling, pack healthy snacks that are high in protein and fat, such as nuts or protein bars (with 5 or fewer ingredients and at least 10 grams of protein). These simple foods can be life savers!
- If you're creating a meal in a buffet setting, wait to serve yourself until all the food is displayed so you're not tempted to return to the table over and over to taste everything that strikes your fancy.
- Fill at least half your plate with colorful veggies and leafy greens. Will you be a guest at a party? Offer to bring a big green salad or veg-heavy dish to share. Even if you don't have much time or space to cook, you can help health-ify the options. Veggies platters with guacamole and/or hummus will do the trick in a pinch!
- Eat the "best for you" food offerings first to crowd out the foods you still want to taste but that aren't as healthful. Start by polishing off those veggies you filled your plate with!
- Eat slowly and mindfully. Take a deep breath before diving in and put your fork down between bites so you can enjoy the flavors and textures that are in your mouth.
- Keep an arm's length distance from you and finger food to help prevent mindless eating. A handful here and a handful there will add up by the end of the holiday marathon!
- No food is on the "naughty" list. Choose the dessert that looks the best to you and consider sharing it with your table-mate.
- Above all: do NOT berate yourself for forgetting or ignoring strategies 1-7. Trying is succeeding.
Jesse Haas is a licensed nutritionist and co-founder of Wellness Minneapolis. Her work in nutrition and wellness starts at the intersection of evidence-based nutrition and heart-centered care. She offers individualized and group nutrition services with the mission to empower each client with the knowledge, skills and motivation to take their wellness by the reins.