For many, the holiday season, which starts with Halloween and lasts until New Year’s Day, may serve as an excuse to abandon healthy behaviors until the New Year. Here are five tips for hanging in there during a time when the abundance of holiday foods, libations, and parties may tempt us to completely bail on our action plans around our health-related goals.
The most common trap people fall into with their eating patterns is all-or-nothing, so if a perceived ‘bad’ food is eaten then all bets are off. Avoid this common trigger and allow yourself to at least taste the foods you love and that are often tied to sentimental, family traditions. So, go ahead and eat that piece of pie, and the serving of mashed potatoes, and whatever other favorite holiday dish you enjoy, but strive to be mindful of your portion size and tuned in to your appetite cues so that you honor satiety instead of eating to over-full. When we feel deprived of the foods we love based on overly restrictive food rules, we tend to go overboard when we finally allow ourselves to eat what feels forbidden. So this holiday season, take the morality out of food choices and legalize your holiday favorites and you’ll be more likely to eat them in moderation.
Create a flexible plan for each holiday event you attend. Instead of going to a party or family gathering and winging it, think about how you’d like to approach what might feel like a situation that triggers the ‘what the heck’ response with food. Entering a situation that you know is going to be challenging, tempting, or stressful requires extra forethought especially if the practice of being different with food (and/or alcohol) is still fragile. Going in with an intent on what would feel realistic and manageable is an important first step.
3. Keep moving
Ensure that you schedule in regular movement even if it’s scaled back during the holidays due to travel, the weather, or simply because your mojo has waned a bit. Doing something is better than doing nothing, and 30-minutes of walking a day (and not even all at once) goes a long way for stress management and helps to enhance overall well-being. Not to mention, regular movement just FEELS good in the body and mind, and when we feel good we tend to make better self-care choices.
Okay, hear me out. If your health-related goals include weight loss, I recommend parking your weight loss expectations during a time of year that is historically tough on most of us for sticking to the original plan. Instead, strive for weight maintenance. One of the primary reasons people get off track with their health-related goals is due to their expectations, so cut yourself some slack this holiday season and make sure your expectations are a bit more realistic considering the time of year.
5. Don’t cocoon yourself
For many people, this time of year may be void of holiday parties and family gatherings, which may trigger emotional eating patterns to cope with feelings of loneliness and disconnection. Instead of cocooning at home, make a plan that will enable you to be around others during the holidays. Here are a few ideas:
If you want additional support with your health-related goals during the holidays, or simply want to immerse yourself in a healthier environment, please come join us at H3 for great food, fun activities and fitness classes, and community camaraderie and support.