With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it is not uncommon to put health and wellness on the back burner. The lack of time to exercise with all the shopping and wrapping that has to get done. The gatherings with their spread of indulgent appetizers and sweets tempt the taste buds! The dinner table with decadent side dishes complimenting the perfectly roasted ham. ....
SERIOUSLY!!! What is one to do with all this pressure?
BREATHE and worry no more, my friend. I am going to share five tricks you can use this holiday season to avoid feeling overstuffed and guilty.
Is it OK to overeat on the holidays?
This is a question I get often. My initial response is "Yes, it is only once a year". However, it comes with a cautionary disclaimer.
Giving yourself permission to eat whatever you want gets your brain into a free for all mindset. Without a plan of attack, you may end up eating too much and paying the price later. I am certainly not going to forbid you from your mom's secret recipe crabby appetizer or grandma's famous pecan pie, just be sure to indulge mindfully.
Overeating does come with its share of unhealthy consequences including:
Disclaimer, this post includes affiliate links to some products I believe will help brighten your holiday and help with the festive feel. I only recommend items I either have or would personally purchase or hope Santa will leave under the tree for me.
5 Tricks to Avoid Overeating
1. PLAN AHEAD Heading into a gathering full of temptation is like heading out on a road trip without a destination. You will likely find yourself lost and making decisions that are unhelpful and get you moving in the wrong direction. Before heading to your event, make a plan. What will you indulge on? What will you do if that voice in your head says "just eat it it...it's the holidays"? Role play in your mind what your evening will look like. You will be training your brain to stay the course instead of the crash and burn of an unplanned binge. Prepare a mantra such as "I will take time to enjoy this bite" or "I am in control". Repeat it each time you are browsing the buffet.
2. DON'T GO HUNGRY How many times have you starved yourself all day so you could "eat whatever you wanted" when you arrived to the party? Admit it...we have all done it in an effort to stay within our calorie budget (well, reasonably ay least), but did it really work? Be honest! While it sounds like a good idea, it is likely to backfire. Going in with a ravenous hunger monster usually results in a sensory overload causing you to eat MORE than you would have if you had fed the inner beast throughout the day. Eat a light breakfast and lunch and enjoy a light soup or a salad before your holiday dinner to tame your hunger monster and avoid a buffet rampage.
3. LIMIT ALCOHOL I know this is not what you want to hear but limiting or avoiding alcohol can help you stay in control. Alcohol directly affects the part of your brain responsible for decision making. It takes the body one hour to remove an ounce of alcohol, so imbibing freely could have you overindulging, not to mention making some other embarrassing memories to be shared later on Facebook. Enjoy a cocktail, glass of wine or eggnog but do so mindfully. Try alternating alcohol with sparkling water or seltzer or replace sugary beverages with infused water poured from a fancy pitcher served in a stemless wine glass.
4. MINDFULLY EAT (AND DRINK) You have been dreaming of your famous sweet potato casserole, decadent turtle cheesecake or festive martini. My opinion.... no food it off limits and you should be able to enjoy whatever your taste buds request. The emphasis here is on ENJOY! According to the American Psychological Association,
"Our taste buds are chemical sensors that tire quickly. The first few bites of a food taste better than the next few bites, and after a large amount, we may have very little taste experience left at all."
Mindful eating is a practice where you learn to savor each bite. It is literally a meditation while eating. Harvard Medical School has done a lovely job listing ways you can practice mindful eating so you can experience the nirvana that comes with these once a year treats.
5. KEEP UP WITH YOUR ROUTINE With all the last minute shopping, wrapping, cooking and cleaning, who has time for exercise? YOU DO!! I get it, we all wish there were 25 hours in a day during the holidays. Often the top two things to get pushed to the bottom of your to do list is exercise and sleep...the two MOST NEEDED items on your list. There is a saying, "You Can't Pour From and Empty Cup". Healthy food, exercise and sleep are your body's way of recharging or filling the tank. You would never try and drive to the mall on an empty tank of gas or shop online with a low battery, so why do you try to complete every day activities without first recharging your body? Keep to your eating routine as best as possible and have a plan if you are headed out on a shopping spree by packing some healthy snacks or plan to stop for a healthy lunch. Schedule a time each day into your calendar for the week and set an alarm to remind you it is time to get up and get moving. (I literally had to pause the writing of this to go do a 25 minute FitOn HIIT workout). Feeling stressed? Try some Yoga with Adriene. Rest a worried mind at bedtime with a Calm Sleep Story or diffuse some Lavender Essential Oil to bring on the sleep inducing vibes. Aim for 30 minutes each day of moderate to vigorous activity and 7-8 hours of restful, uninterrupted (that means charge your devices outside your bedroom) sleep each night. These simple steps will give you the energy, endurance and patience to tackle the rest of your to do list.
Wishing You a Happy and Healthy Holiday
This year has certainly been one of uncertainty and discomfort, but I am also grateful for how it has helped me slow down and appreciate my health and spend time with my family. While the holidays will look different, one thing we have control over is the opportunity to celebrate and reach out to loved ones in a safe and healthy manner. While social gatherings may be limited this year, I do hope the tips I have shared will help make this this holiday a happy and healthy one full of memories.
I am wishing and sending you all the gift of Health, Happiness and Peace
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I'm Liz. Mom, wife, teacher, Health Coach. My passion lies in everything health and wellness. When new research and trends pop up, you can bet I am finding the best resources to information, weeding out the not so good and making the great easy to digest. From meal planning and recipes to exercise and mindfulness, wellness touches upon so many dimensions. Your path to optimal health is out there and I can help you find it.