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The Holiday (or Any Time) Eating Survival Guide

While I wrote this about holiday eating – the same applies all the time. There will always be tempting treats, special occasions.

Holidays. There is always too much stress concerning holiday eating. There are several ways to approach this, all of which have much more to do with how you think about food than how you eat food. I believe with every fiber of my being that I never want to be on a diet again, that I want how I eat to be a true lifestyle. I want to stop playing the mind-game with food that I have played for so long and learn to enjoy food but not be controlled by it.

Food is not “good” or “bad”, “clean” or “dirty” — food is just fuel.

Food is not “good” or “bad”, “clean” or “dirty” — food is just fuel. How you choose to fuel your body is up to you. Yes, I use the word “clean” when describing how I try to eat – simply because it has become a recognized term for eating whole foods, lots of fruits and veggies, lean meats, healthy fats, limited dairy. You get the idea. We (and I am talking to myself first and foremost) can get wrapped up in the anxiety over what to eat, how often to eat, when to eat, how much to eat and then we get caught up in guilt over what we did or did not do “right.” This cycle of thinking is even worse around the holidays because there are so many occasions to eat and drink all the “forbidden” foods around every bend.

Some strategies you can follow:

  1. Have a game plan when faced with holiday party eating; for example, if you know there will be all kinds of unhealthy choices eat something healthy before hand and then pick a few things that you really want to indulge on and enjoy them in small quantities. Remember, the party is not about food, rather the fellowship with one another!
  2. Don’t drink your calories. High fat, high sugar, high calorie drinks are all around us this time of year – lattes, hot chocolate, egg nog; the list goes on an on. Keep yourself hydrated with water and enjoy just a little of the others. Choose a “skinny” version of your favorite drink and get the smaller portion. You can enjoy it; you don’t have to focus on it.
  3. Do not deprive yourself of all that is yummy! All the holiday goodies are yummy, there’s no getting around it! Choose what you want to enjoy and do so without guilt. Just be in control. Don’t waste the calories on just any ol’ dessert or food, make it worth it! One chocolate covered peanut butter ball (a favorite of mine) will taste great so you don’t have to eat 6 (or more which I have been known to do)!
  4. Don’t stress over a little holiday weight gain. If you gain a couple of pounds over the holidays, don’t freak out. I do believe you can enjoy the holidays with no weight gain (remember, it is not about the food), but if you do have a little gain – just start fresh. The next meal or snack – make it a good one! No guilt. You are living life  – it’s not a contest (something my dear husband reminds me of all the time!!).
  5. Make holiday goodies with healthy substitutes. Choose healthy oils (olive oil, coconut oil), choose plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. There are a lot of ways to alter favorite recipes to make them healthier.
  6. Keep Moving! You can get a walk or a workout in every day if you choose to. You will feel good, have less stress, and be more mindful of your goals in general if you keep moving!

If you are just now deciding it is time to make some changes toward a healthier life, pick one or two areas to focus on, don’t try to change all your bad habits over-night. Little success will encourage you to do more. This is a marathon, not a sprint.

If you have been making changes for a while and are worried the holidays will set you back. Let go of the worry, focus on people and what’s important, not food. When it is all said and done, if you did not eat any pecan pie or chocolate goodie you will have enjoyed your holidays just as much!

Enjoy the season!

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