As most of you know, I have been working on simple principles to live by so that living life doesn’t derail you from having health. As we get into the holiday season, many people can be driven by emotions, I know I am. When I first started my journey with food, I found that emotional eating was a difficult beast to manage. I ate excessively because I was stressed by large gatherings or conflict with family or long distant travel or kids acting ungrateful about presents or fear of hurting someone’s feelings…the list goes on.
Over time, however, it has gotten easier as I have developed habits that gracefully help me stay on track so the normal stress of holiday doesn’t send me into emotional eating.
Here are a few tips on how to enjoy the holiday season while living a healthy life:
1. No thank you
These words are simple and powerful, yet difficult to say. Just because someone offered you his or her grandmother’s pie, doesn’t require you to eat it. A simple, “no thank you” is concise without being offensive. If you have amazing self-control, then put some on your plate and don’t eat it. Personally, I can’t do this because I am not strong enough. During the holiday’s and feasting, keep your thoughts about how excited you are about how you have changed your eating for a time when food and emotion are not center stage. If someone wants to delve further into it, you can say, “I’d rather discuss this at another time” or “I’d rather not discuss right now.” As I served the 2nd graders today at their Thanksgiving feast, many simply said “No thank you” and that was the end of it. I didn’t push and they didn’t offer any explanation because it was unnecessary. Practice it in the car before you arrive.
2. Eat something before you go
I used to always do this with my kids in the pre-paleo days because I didn’t want them have fits of “hangry” (when their blood sugar dropped and they got angry because they were hungry). This is NOT a problem for us now, but if I know there will be temptation headed my way, I had better not be starving. Self-control in eating is much better when you aren’t starving.
3. Take a walk
Part of the purpose of the holiday season is actually connecting with friends and family…or nature. When there is a break in eating before or after, ask a family member or friend to take a walk. You may find that much more intimate than sitting around gorging on extra helpings of dessert. Even if it is by yourself that may be a time to re-center and just be grateful for you own health.
4. Get a good nights sleep
Being well rested will help with food cravings and helps regulate your hormones. Head into the big day having gotten some rest. Ways to improve sleeping are to turn off screens 2 hours before bedtime, make your room dark, and turn the heat down.
5. Offer to bring a side dish or dessert to share
A great way to feel like you are helping the hostess AND feel included is to bring a dish or dessert that you can share and enjoy along with others. It will spark conversation if it’s a hit, but more the point, you get to enjoy a sweet treat without derailing yourself and maybe others might be intrigued to try a healthier version themselves. Try a few Lateral Shift Pudding or Dark Chocolate Chip Dipped Apples.
6. Reach out
Enjoying the holiday season is a challenge for many. Some don’t even have feasts to go to. Either way, seeking support from a good friend or neighbor in a difficult time can also help. Even reaching out to others less fortunate can do wonders for your soul and your health.
Health and Holidays can go hand-in-hand. It may not seem easy, but having a plan can help set you up for success.
Remove. Replace. Restore.
Remove emotional eating.
Replace with mindful eating. Connect to those around you. Go for a walk. Bring a dish to share. Practice saying “No thank you.”
Restore holiday cheer and gratitude for the simple gifts in life…health, happiness, and connection.
Eat well. Move well. Sleep well. Thrive on…..through the holidays
Photo Credit: Flickr, Commons, Bermrunner, license
Dr Carolyn Dolan DPT, Cert MDT, MSHN
Where physical therapy, nutrition and lifestyle meet, because how you live your life determines whether or not you soar. Inspiring action with information so you can reduce pain, optimize healing and improve function naturally during recovery from injury, surgery or painful condition. This is a website for the open-minded; obstinate need not apply.