With holiday cheer in the air and celebratory gatherings a plenty, it is easy to get swept away in the season, indulging beyond intention in food and drink. These treasured times together are meant to be enjoyed, but I invite you to keep your commitment to health – and to yourself – in mind as you make the holiday party rounds. A little bit of attention, awareness and planning will help break the common cycle of over indulgence and guilt at this “most wonderful time of the year”.
Where to start? I encourage applying the two R’s approach in creating goals to manage holiday temptations. That is, create a plan that is realistic and robust; realistic to ensure you are set up for success and robust enough to have a positive impact on your health. Keep in mind that this may mean your actions result in simply limiting your weight gain to 5 pounds during the holiday season or it may mean that you don’t gain a pound, depending on your current level of healthy habits fluency.
A few suggestions to get you moving in the right direction…
· Focus on getting your greens…and reds, oranges, yellows, and blues! Ensure that you consume your veggies during the holiday season. Specific suggestions include:
o Commit to making salad your main meal for two lunches per week. (P.S. A wedge salad comprised of iceberg lettuce, laden with blue cheese dressing doesn’t count!)
o Even when you are feasting, make room for nutrient dense veggies (the more colorful, the more nutrient dense…step away from the white potatoes.)
· Choose your indulgence. If you know that you have a big festivity ahead, select your treats in advance. Specific suggestions include:
o If you are drinking alcohol, skip the dessert…or at least pear it down, selecting a healthier dessert (fruit & a scoop of sorbet) or a smaller portion.
o Take a pass on the fried wonton appetizers and opt for the shrimp cocktail. Every healthier choice makes a difference.
o Consider what you really just can’t live without and what you eat out of obligation or tradition. Let go of the guilt and leave the unnecessary calories off your plate.
· Keep tabs on your alcohol. While alcohol may be a part of the holiday for you, it contributes empty calories and lessens inhibition to stick to your plan, a double whammy. Specific suggestions include:
o Count the number of drinks you consume. In the wise words of Peter Drucker, “What’s measured gets managed.” Building awareness of the current facts is often a powerful and appropriate place to start.
o Begin your night with a club soda and sip it slowly. Resist the urge to mindlessly jump into the festivities and consider swapping every other alcoholic drink for a club soda.
In creating a plan that is realistic and robust, you will build your confidence and step into the new year with both results and healthy habits that will serve you throughout 2014 and beyond. We wish you a joyful holiday season and a fruitful new year!