Healthy Holiday Eating is NOT an Oxymoron

The holidays are here! What fun! If you live in the U.S., Thursday is Thanksgiving, which serves as either the beginning or the continuation (depending upon which holidays you celebrate) of the season of joy, togetherness, and love. This time also might be referred to as the season of over-indulgence. Many people find themselves starting the New Year with 5 or even 10 extra pounds that they weren’t wearing back in September. If you have concerns about gaining weight during the holidays, I have four conscious holiday partying tips that will help you stay trim through the season of celebration.

Tip 1 – Have an Attitude of Gratitude

My first tip has nothing to do with food and everything to do with health. Take a moment each day, during this busy time of year to stop and look at your life, those you love, and the world around you with gratitude.

Even just one minute of gratitude each day will lower your stress and brighten your outlook. The effect is even more powerful if you write down three things you are grateful for each day.

Keeping stress at a minimum helps us maintain our weight – the less cortisol (the stress hormone that tells our body to hang on to weight) the better.

Tip 2 – Do the Pre-party Prep

Before you run out the door to a holiday party, stop and think about why you are going. Is the party about the food, the people or both? Will there be friends there that you seldom see? Who are they? Bring them to mind and ask yourself what you would like to know about them. What questions can you ask that will allow you to catch up and connect in a meaningful way?

Is this party all about the food? If not, plan, in advance, on snacking on just the crudité, sipping a sparkling water with lemon or lime, eating a small amount of the healthiest foods and enjoying the company. You don’t want to indulge at a party where the food isn’t phenomenal.

On the other hand, if the party IS all about the food, see tip number 3!

Bonus Tip: No matter what, eat a small high-protein snack; such as a handful of almonds, before you run off to a party so you won’t be starving when you get there. You want to arrive feeling like you will be ready to eat in a while so you can socialize – without food in your mouth.

Tip 3 – Practice Conscious Indulgence

Sometimes parties are all about the food. You know there will be amazing snacks, dinner will be fantastic and wine will be served. If that’s the case, enjoy.

Remember why you are there when you arrive. Enjoy people’s company without food. Really connect. Ask the high mileage questions that you thought of before you arrived. Enjoy a glass of sparking water with lime or lemon while you chat.

Before you eat, wash your hands. It’s cold and flu season.

If the food is served buffet style, look at the entire spread before you grab a plate. Pick out the 3 or 4 savories and 1 or 2 sweets that you know you will enjoy the most. Take portions that are the size of two or three bites. Sit down and give the food your full attention.

Consciously eat. Enjoy every bite. Really savor the food. Chew it. A lot. Take alternate bites to really get the subtlety of flavors. Clear your palate between bites with still or sparkling water. Luxuriate. If someone interrupts you, tell them to Shut-up and Eat (just kidding). Let them know that you are enjoying the food. Invite them to sit down and enjoy their’s with you.

Indulge in a couple bites of dessert.  You’ll find that after two bites, the nuance of flavors is gone and all you taste is sweet. There’s really no reason to eat more. This party isn’t about feeding your body; it’s about enjoying decadent food that was prepared with love.

If dinner is served around a table remember that you don’t have to be the Fairy of the Clean Plate! It’s OK to leave some of the food. You won’t get scolded for it. Eat slowly, put your fork down between bites to converse. When you feel that you are just about full, stop and put your fork and knife across the plate or put your napkin over it. Signal to yourself that you are finished.

Practice conscious alcohol consumption. In other words, stay sober.

Enjoy your cocktail or glass of wine early enough in the evening that you go home clear-minded, even if you aren’t driving. You want the alcohol to be completely out of your system long before bed, so you can rest well.

When you get home, wash your hands. It’s still cold and flu season.

Reflect on the fun evening you just had. Check in with yourself. Are you thirsty? Over-stimulated? Tired? Gratified? Happy? Enjoy some stretching, evening yoga poses or a cup of your favorite herbal tea while you wind down.

Before you go to sleep, think of three things that happened at the gathering that you are grateful for.

Tip 4 – Enjoy the Morning After

When you wake up in the morning, before you dive into your day, enjoy the memories of the previous night. Recall the meaningful conversations, the delicious food, your wonderful friends and even the noise, music and fun atmosphere.

Congratulate yourself for fully and consciously experiencing the richness of the evening; for indulging yourself in a way that was fulfilling and healthy. Taking the time to acknowledge ourselves when we are on track keeps us there.

The holidays are a great time to practice the 90/10 rule: Eat healthy 90% of the time, eat whatever you want 10% of the time.

I hope that this article will help you enjoy the holidays without over-indulgence.

If you do find that you are going to begin the New Year with a couple extra pounds, or you’d just like to shake off the holiday haze, then please join me for the January 10-Day Energy Jumpstart, which begins on January 9th.

Over 10 days you will lose a few pounds, get off caffeine and sugar, increase your energy and clarity and get to enjoy what healthy feels like. This whole foods cleanse is a great way to start the New Year!

Mark your calendar now – January 9th through January 18th – info on how to register will be coming your way next week.

Happy Thanksgiving!



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