The holidays can be a tough time when you're trying to make a lifestyle change. There are treats everywhere and lots of parties and potlucks to attend. Plus the weather is colder so you feel less like going out and being active. But fear not, for I am here to help.
The number one thing I want you to remember is (write it on your forehead if you have to): It's ok. It's ok to have a Christmas cookie or two. It's ok to have a slice of pumpkin pie. It's ok to have some cheese dip while you're waiting for Thanksgiving dinner. It's ok.
Part of living a healthy lifestyle is having a healthy relationship with food. A healthy relationship does not involve feelings of guilt. A healthy relationship does not involve avoidance of a situation just because of the food that will be there. Food is just food, it's not good or bad. Food is meant to provide you with nourishment. It's supposed to provide energy and nutrients and every food you eat does that to one extent or another.
The holidays are a time for us to gather and break bread with those nearest and dearest to us. Eating with others and being around those we care about both have proven health benefits.
Now, just because you allow yourself to indulge over the next month, does not mean you have to overindulge. There are some simple ways to help keep your calorie intake in check. They may seem like common sense, but when faced with a Thanksgiving buffet sometimes common sense goes out the window.
1. If you're not hungry, don't eat. Pretty straight forward, but how many times have you grabbed an appetizer that smelled amazing even though you weren't all that hungry? If the smells are too enticing, step away from the food table and hang out in another area of the room.
2. If it doesn't taste good, stop eating. This one is especially true with desserts. There are a lot of times that a dessert looks or sounds better than it really is (perhaps it's a little bit of that wanting what you can't have?) There's no reason to keep eating something you're not enjoying.
3. Stop eating when you're full. Yes, even if your plate isn't empty. I know that can be very difficult if you were raised in the Clean Plate Club. If you find it challenging consider wrapping up the leftovers for later, or sharing your plate with a friend.
4. Use a smaller plate when possible. This will automatically help you control the portion sizes.
I believe the holidays can be a great form of stress relief if we put the focus on the good parts. If you're hosting a gathering of your own, put the focus on the company more than the food. Gathering everyone for a game of charades will get you up and active and away from the table of food. Besides, the memory of a fun game with those you care about will be a much nicer memory to reflect on than what cookies you ate (even if they're really good cookies).
Taryn is a Los Angeles based Registered Dietitian who's passionate about helping you be your healthiest you.