This is for you if the fall season ends up being an unintended foggy bloated blur of overindulging in sugar, carbs, and alcohol that starts at Halloween and ends on New Year’s Day. It’s also for you if you always gain weight over the fall and winter holidays – and don’t want to! It is totally possible to stay on track with your holiday eating, with some simple strategies.
From an evolutionary point of view, as in back in hunter-gatherer days, the time to gain weight is actually the summer, when carbohydrate foods are plentiful. Then you can pack on some pounds to get through the leaner winter months, during which you sleep a lot, stay warm, and eat more protein and fat and fewer carbohydrates.
We tend to do the opposite nowadays – we don’t have lean times in the winter, and instead we overindulge, while also packing our schedules with extorverted social occasions, instead of hibernating and hunkering down.
Don’t be a victim of the season
Do you enter this time of year with the best of intentions, only to throw in the towel after the first bite of Halloween candy, and sabotoge your healthy eating for the next two months?
There’s a zillion reasons why you may fall off track with healthy eating during this time, and if you do, you are far from alone. But if it makes you feel yucky – as in bloated, foggy, unhappy, or uncomfortable in your skin – then why not try something different this year?
IYou can absolutely go through this season feeling your best, or even losing weight if you want! Here I give you seven ways to stay on track with your holiday eating:
1. Plan, plan, plan.
Make specific food plans for the season. Write them down. Then, instead of blindly going into each situation ravenous and winging it, you already have your plan, and you don’t have to think – just act on your plan.
What is your strategy for:
- Halloween candy?
- The crap people bring into work?
- Sugary stuff people give you as gifts?
- Holiday cookies?
- Each holiday you celebrate?
- Family events?
2. Protect yourself from that which you cannot handle.
If there’s a food or a beverage that you know you have zero control over, it’s probably best to restrict it. The foods that can contain addictive properties (as in temporarily increase feel-good brain chemicals) include: dairy, wheat, sugar, and alcohol. Are there any of these you need to keep off your plate to avoid binging? You’re the one who knows best.
3. Eat only for yourself.
Don’t eat for others. Please don’t use the excuse that you are obligated to eat something that derails you for someone else’s sake. Seriously. You are old enough, and capable enough, of deciding what you put in your mouth. There are all knds of ways to graciously decline food.
4. Remember, there’s always food.
This may sound ridiculous, but some of us Americans go to a meal that has a plethera of dishes, and we get into a scarcity mindset – we have to try everything and have seconds on top of it. You will have access to food later, you won’t die if you decline some dishes that simply add up to too much quantity for the comfort of your belly. Pick small tasting amounts of the best things!
5. Lose the all-or-nothing mindset.
If you overdo it or get off track one day or at one event, it does not mean that you blew it and may as well stay off track until New Year’s Day. You can always get back on the saddle.
6. Ramp up your self-care routines!
Whatever you do now to destress and take care of yourself, keep it up or even do more. Meditate, read a novel, watch some comedy, spend time alone, get a massage or acupuncture – whatever it is that calms you down and centers you. Even if the season is busy and routines are different, you still get to move your body. You still get to stretch, do yoga, exercise, sleep, and breathe. You need these things moreso now than ever.
7. Limit your time with stressful people.
If you think you need to see people that stress you out over the holidays, first ask yourself – do you really need to? If your answer is yes, think about making the time shorter. A short and sweet drop in and drop out. If it’s an extended visit – be honest about what works for you for houseguests or to visit others. It’s perfectly okay to have limits, use hotels, or take breaks.
I’d love to support you – please add your ideas, thoughts and questions below,