By Elizabeth Harris, MS, RDN
Now that Halloween is behind us, the holiday season will kick into full swing real fast. For many people that means sweets, cocktails, social gatherings, baking, and other fun activities that can derail healthy eating and wellness routines.
Fortunately, there are several strategies you can use to help you stay on track with your long-term health goals even during this festive, indulgent season. Here are some of my favorite tips:
- Don’t go hungry. Heading to a party or social gathering? Have a well-balanced meal or snack before you go. You’re less likely to overindulge if you’re not starving when you arrive.
- Follow the sure-thing rule. Having Thanksgiving or another holiday meal at a friend or family member’s house? Offer to bring a dish…and then make it a healthful one so you know there will be at least one option that meets your wellness objectives.
- Use the plate method. Whenever you’re at a buffet or holiday gathering, remember to fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables. This will make your plate look visually appealing, fill you up with nutrients and fiber, and leave you with less room for less nourishing options.
- Leave yourself reminders so you don’t lose track of your long-term goals during the holiday season. Fill post it notes with your wellness or healthy eating goals and post them in strategic places around your home or car. Or find inspirational photos or messages that remind you of your goals and hang them in places where you’ll see them frequently.
- Make friends and mingle. You’ll be less likely to mindlessly munch from the buffet if you physically move yourself away from the holiday spread. Fill your plate once and then relocate to a different room or area. Get busy socializing and moving around so you won’t be focused on the banquet after you’ve already filled up. And if it’s that kind of party—join in and dance. It’s not often you can burn calories while you party!
- Set an intention ahead of time. How much alcohol can you drink and still feel good, while honoring your wellness goals? Which sweets are a “must try” for you? How much will feel good to eat and how much will be too much? Making some decisions ahead of time will make you much more aware of your party-time choices.
- Try the 80% solution. Make a commitment to enjoy your meal until you’re feeling about 80% full…and then stop. Push away your plate. Get up and move around. If you’re still hungry 20-30 minutes later, go back for more. But odds are, you’ll realize you’re satisfied and won’t eat to the point of being uncomfortably full.
I also recommend finding balance in your daily eating patterns. If you deprive yourself, diet, or have a “restriction” mindset throughout the rest of the year, you’ll be much more likely to overindulge during the holidays. When you make wellness a lifestyle and focus on practicing small health habits that you can stick with each day, you’ll discover it’s much easier to find long-term success with your healthy eating goals.
Lastly, I love practicing mindful eating all year round, but it can especially help to keep you centered during the holiday season. Want to learn more? I’ll be presenting a special Mindful Eating During the Holidays Workshop on Wednesday, November 13 at 6 p.m. right here at Ridgely Retreat. You can sign up here: http://www.ridgelyretreat.com/events.
In this fun workshop you will:
- Learn what mindful eating is…how it can benefit you…and walk away with 4 tools you can use to practice mindful eating on your own
- Find out how mindful eating can help you navigate the indulgent holiday season with awareness, intention, and confidence
- Understand the different types of hunger and learn techniques to help you tune into and respond to your body’s hunger and fullness cues
- Get the truth about some popular mindful eating myths, participate in a powerful and thought-provoking mindful eating exercise, and more.
I hope to see you there! And best wishes for a fabulous, fun, and healthy holiday season!
Elizabeth Harris, MS, RDN