It is just me or does it seem that December and the holiday season came out of nowhere? Holidays are meant to be a time of enjoyment and excitement celebrating with family and friends. However, the holidays can also be busy, stressful as well as daunting for someone who is worried about how they will keep their health goals.
The holiday “eating” season when we think about it actual starts in October with Thanksgiving, Halloween and now into full blown holiday festivities either through work, family or events and commitments over the next month or so. I have already been working with clients on thinking about what the next few months are going to look and how we are not just going to SURVIVE the holidays but ENJOY the holidays. Sometimes the lines get blurred on how we are both able to enjoy the holidays while keeping our health goals in mind and not feeling left out or deprived all at the same time. Challenging the statement that you can’t have your cake and eat it to?
Here are some of tips that can take you from surviving to enjoying the holidays!
1) Keep in mind what the holidays mean to you: Holidays are times of traditions, culture, family, friends, gathering and celebrations. By keeping that in the front of our mind we are able to remember that because we might be watching our health choices doesn’t take away from the importance or meaning of that holiday or gathering.
2) Get rid of the all or nothing thinking: Often times I hear clients say “while I guess I cant have “xyz” or I guess I won’t bake “xyz” this holiday season”. I challenge clients to rethink that statement– what is your favourite holiday food? Now plan for it, but then maybe skip the not so favourite food items around it! Deprivation of foods can often lead to negative feelings around eating as well as just finding a roundabout way of replacing it with something else anyways. Eat that food, enjoy that food, savour that food, celebrate that food and then get back to your routine!
3) Stick to your regular eating routine: Although easier said than done, keeping to regular eating patterns can take you a long way with keeping your health goals. It can help with portion control when you have bigger meals as well as helps keep snacks and temptations more manageable
4) Follow the balanced plate concept: This is probably the easiest strategy for the holidays. No matter where you are, keep to the simple plate rules: ½ vegetables, ¼ protein, ¼ carbohydrate or grain.
5) Keep your health goals in mind: Although the holidays challenge us with keeping up with health goals it also acts as a great opportunity to learn about ourselves and how to problem solve and navigate for other holidays and special occasions through the year (birthdays, parties, social gatherings). It also might mean that some of our health goals will work and some will need to be put on pause for a few days—and that’s ok, as long as we pick it back up again afterwards.
6) Stay active: This is important for enjoying the holidays as well as a great way to manage some of the stress that also comes with this time of year. Engaging in activity as a whole family, going for a walk before going out, building snowman or enjoying some of the great winter activities right here in Edmonton!
7) Engage in positive self-care: the holidays can be very busy and stressful with running here and there, last minutes things to do, company in and out and late nights. Making sure to find time to rewind and unwind. Find time to make time for you – whether that means curling up and reading a good book, going for a walk, having a nice relaxing bath, going to bed early or being ok with leaving the laundry for another day.
Holidays are meant to be about enjoyment and allow the ability to keep and work on our health goals without feeling more stressed or deprived! These tips are a great start and to be able to Have your holiday cake and EAT it to!
If you feel that this is an area you would like support and coaching— booking and appointment with one of our Registered Dietitians would be a great start!