Worried your willpower will let you down this holiday season? You should be, but read on because there’s still hope.
As the holidays kick off, it usually means extra time with family and friends and often a party or two. But when it comes to your nutrition and health, the 42-day stretch of endless desserts, baking and sweets at home and the office, it can seem like a season full of temptations. Preparation is a must!
The good news is that there are three time-tested strategies you can use to enjoy the holidays. These simple yet powerful tactics will help you move beyond relying on your willpower alone.
The first holiday survival strategy is to remember it’s a holi-DAY, not a holi-WEEK or a holi-MONTH. The number of days of indulgence are fewer than you might think: Thanksgiving Day with one day of leftovers (2 days), Christmas Eve and Day (2 days), and New Year’s Eve and Day (2 days). That’s six days of indulgence over a six-week period. That’s not too bad, if you stay on track the other remaining 36 days.
The second survival strategy is to remember that portion size counts! Never “save calories” for the big meal. While this is a common practice, it will work against you in a big way if you are looking to watch carbohydrate, fat and calorie intake on the day of the feast. This causes your blood sugar to drop too low, which makes you overeat (and never really feel satisfied). This is sabotage at its finest when you have a house full of tasty home-cooked food and endless savory desserts. Never go to social events hungry. Instead, have your usual meals for the day (just lighter) that include fat, fiber and protein. It’s also important to include a healthy breakfast and to drink lots of water throughout the day – and between cocktails!
The third holiday survival strategy is to put food out of sight and out of mind. Putting food and less-than-healthy snacks away between meals makes it harder for you to graze all day long. Leaving food out and available makes it easier to eat when you’re not hungry because we eat with our eyes. Also, when putting food away, don’t store unhealthy foods in a see-through container. If you see a glass jar full of cookies on the kitchen counter, it is almost a guarantee you will want one every time you walk by because your eyes trigger the desire. Store unhealthy foods in closed containers and put them in the back of the fridge behind the healthier alternatives.
During the holidays, we’re surrounded by many of our favorite dishes and desserts and a ton of new ones to try. We look forward to these delicious foods that only come around once a year. The trick is to enjoy your favorites, but don’t overindulge at every opportunity. Make better choices so you aren’t left wondering “what happened?” when January rolls around. Finally, a bonus tip: It’s not all or nothing. If you get off track, let go of your guilt and make your next step forward a good one.
Fran Sutherlin is a local registered dietitian, health coach, speaker and owner of Sustainable Nutrition, which has offices in Durango and Bayfield. She can be reached at 444-2122 or firstname.lastname@example.org.