Survive the Holidays!
Are the "food holidays" a struggle for you?
I know they can be for me. There have been many years when I've thought more about the food than family. I've wasted precious time agonizing over what and how much I'll eat. And I've wasted even more time dealing with the negative after effects when I overeat anyway.
I won't tell you I'm "cured" of my struggles around food, family, and holidays. I still tend to overeat in stressful situations and when I'm around certain family members. I still tend to focus more on what/when I'm going to eat, when I should be focused on enjoying the people I care about.
But I've gotten A LOT BETTER.
If Thanksgiving and the "food holidays" tend to cause anxiety for you too, here are my tips and a few of the things that I do to help me actually enjoy the holidays.
1. Eat normal, healthy meals leading up to the big meal. Don't starve yourself all day thinking you'll save calories. You'll end up eating way more than you intended, and you'll feel terrible both physically and mentally.
2. Exercise only if you like exercise. In other words, don't try to burn calories so you can eat more...it doesn't work. No matter what the treadmill readout says (most of them are off by up to 50%), the average adult woman only burns about 350 calories during 60 minutes of running. SIXTY MINUTES OF RUNNING! That will burn off about one large piece of pie with whipped cream. You'd have to run for 5 or 6 hours to burn off a large meal. NOT WORTH IT!
3. Eat a small snack before Thanksgiving dinner. Fibrous veggies and some protein will go a long way toward blunting your appetite, which will help you eat less and focus on more important things...like catching up with loved ones you don't see very often.
4. Take a few deep breaths before digging in. Truly think of all of the people for whom you are grateful...even if you don't necessarily get along with them.
5. Don't rush through your dinner. Take a bite, CHEW, set the fork down, and TALK to the people you are eating with! Actually tasting your food might help you eat less!
6. Wait at least 20 minutes before getting a second helping. This "rule" really helps me, especially because I usually ignore rule #5 and eat WAY TOO FAST! Give your stomach a chance to send the "all full" signal to your brain!
7. Don't deprive yourself. If you love all things Thanksgiving...eat up! Especially if you only get these foods once per year! Trying to deprive yourself of foods you love (but don't often get to indulge in) often leads to bingeing later, especially if there's leftovers sitting around!
8. Save the leftover turkey...send the rest home with your guests! Eating stuffing, mashed potatoes, candied sweet potatoes, and pies is okay for ONE day. It won't ruin your progress. But if you eat those things for the next week, it will definitely set you back.
9. Take a walk after the big meal. If your family tradition usually involves flopping on a couch and snoozing it's time to make a new tradition! Getting moving after a large meal can really help settle your food and make you feel much better!
10. Get back on track with healthy habits tomorrow. No excuses.
Enjoy the holidays! Enjoy your loved ones! This is your life...