I really don’t eat much differently during the holiday season than I do the rest of the year. So when I think about how to approach the holidays, I think about what I normally do and then add a few extra ideas that help address the special challenges we face during the holiday period.
First of all, there is no food that is considered forbidden. Since there are a lot more opportunities to eat delicious, tempting foods during the holiday season, negotiating this philosophy takes a little more mindfulness than usual. To help, when you get to a large buffet of food at a party, survey the possible choices and take small amounts of the food that you really want. Let yourself really savor and enjoy them. If the foods you have chosen are in the “higher than normal calorie range” (you know which ones those are without a calorie counter), then make sure to fill the rest of your plate with healthy choices like raw vegetables (e.g. carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, celery sticks) and fresh fruits. These little munchies can fill the need to be eating during a party.
Oh, and don’t forget, you don’t have to eat everything on your plate. Most of us are in the “clean your plate” club, but we can learn that we don’t have to do this. In fact, you might want to eat and then put your plate down for good for the rest of the evening. The continual grazing through the afternoon or the night of a party can really add up.
Drinking water is always good advice, but particularly when you are in a party setting. Drinking water can help you feel full quicker and you won’t be as tempted to overeat. If you drink alcohol, have a glass of water first and in between drinks. Try to limit yourself to one or two drinks and then switch over to water for the rest of the night.
Don’t forget that there might be some extra emotions to deal with during the holiday season. Unfortunately, during a time when there is so much emphasis on joy and good cheer there are many people who really feel lonely and depressed. Be aware that these emotions might creep up on you and find other ways of dealing with the emotions besides food. Sit down and make a list of things you might do instead of eating. You might call a friend to go for a walk, see a happy movie, or update your phone book and call someone you haven’t talked to in a while—they might be feeling lonely too.
Try to keep active. With so many activities that we have planned and with the weather not being as nice, exercise and movement might fall to the wayside. This is not the time to stop. If anything, now is the time to set your intention to keep up with some activity to keep the body moving. It will both keep your mood up and burn off those few extra calories that you might consume.
My last advice to you is to “enjoy!” Whatever it is that you decide to eat or decide not eat, try to bring an attitude of gratefulness and contentment to bear as we finish out the rest of 2010. We made it through! It’s good to celebrate our good fortune.