Change Your Thinking, Change Your Eating: 3 Tips for a Happy & Healthy Holidays (and Beyond!)
Want to eat healthier during the holidays? Thousands of tips are just a Google away, from the sensible “scan all your options before digging in”, to the dubious “wear tight-fitting clothes so you can manage what you measure”
You know what to do, so what’s going to actually make you do it? You might be surprised to learn that how you think can have a huge impact on how you eat.
3 Tips for a Happy & Healthy Holiday Season
1. Set an Intention
I’m a little sick of the articles and blog posts promising to teach me how to “survive” the holiday season. There’s no question that it can be a stressful and busy time, but isn’t it supposed to be about joy and celebration? (At least, that’s what the greeting cards say.)
I invite you to ask yourself, “How do I want to feel this holiday season?”Instead of just surviving the holidays, ask yourself, 'How do I want to feel?' #intention #rdtip Click To Tweet
Use this intention to guide your actions throughout the holidays. Check in with yourself periodically and decide whether what you are eating, drinking, doing or thinking aligns with your intention, or if it produces negative or opposite emotions instead.
You may want to use your intention as an overarching theme for the entire holiday season, or you may choose to have different intentions for different occasions during the next few weeks. For example, perhaps you want to focus on feeling patient and giving while shopping for gifts, and calm and peaceful at your big family dinner.
Most people know that planning and eating well go hand in hand, but often they only think of planning as meal planning – deciding on their meals and snacks ahead of time, and perhaps using that information to write a weekly menu and/or grocery list.
Just because you don’t know what’s going to be served at a dinner party or potluck, doesn’t mean that you can’t plan.Just because you don't know exactly what you're eating ahead of time, doesn't mean you can't #plan. Click To Tweet
You can still plan how you’re going to eat around the event – and I don’t mean “saving up” your calories! Skipping meals or eating less during the day can actually be counterproductive, as it leads to increased hunger and a desire to eat more. Combine that with the fact that most parties don’t serve the healthiest fare, and you may find yourself further from your goals. Instead, plan to eat in a way that helps you maximize your nutrition before the event.
You can also plan what strategy to use to help make the healthy choice the easier choice. Using the mall example again, perhaps you might want to pack a water bottle or even a small snack so that you can skip the food court (and save a little money!) At your family dinner, you may want to try having a glass of water between every glass of wine or eggnog, so that you can slow down your rate of drinking (and lower the chances of becoming sloppy and embarrassing.)
3. Find the Joy in Your 80%
It’s easy to engage in “all-or-nothing” thinking during the holidays. It’s either, “Christmas only comes once a year,” “Calories don’t count,” or “Well I already had a cookie, so…” coupled with promises to cleanse or detox in the New Year in an effort to undo it all.
On the other side of the spectrum, there are those who turn down all social events that involve food, isolating themselves from friends and family simply out of the fear that they will eat the “wrong thing” or “fall off the wagon”.
Dietitians and other health professionals often talk about the 80/20 Rule – aim to make healthful choices 80% of the time, while leaving room for treats, celebrations, indulgences and just plain unplanned eating 20% of the time. Nobody’s perfect – it’s part of being human.
The one problem with the 80/20 Rule though, is that sometimes it can be misinterpreted as needing to “suffer” through soft, steamed vegetables and bland, boiled chicken breasts 80% of the time so that you can “cheat” 20% of the time.
With that in mind, I would like to add to the 80/20 Rule by suggesting find the joy in your 80%. To put it bluntly, if something sucks, why would we keep doing it? Pleasure is what makes eating healthy sustainable. Whether you find your joy in the sweet and tangy aroma of a Christmas orange, in the warmth of a mug of tea, or in the whimsy of a holiday-themed veggie tray, I invite you to inject a little bit of fun into your eating this holiday season and beyond.If something sucks, why would you do it? #Pleasure makes healthy eating last. Click To Tweet