The holiday season officially starts with Thanksgiving. Holiday parties and celebrations arrive. If you do end up overindulging in food during the holidays from time to time, don't judge yourself harshly. Ultimately, it’s not how you eat between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day that matters as much as how you eat the rest of the year that determines good nutrition and health. Be forgiving and kind to yourself… with family traditions, spending time with friends, shopping, and of course, indulge with balance regarding food.
All this holiday cheer comes with joy and, more often than not, with additional stress. We may be spending more money than we are comfortable with, or perhaps overindulging in holiday foods. There are holiday parties, lunches at work, and dinners out with friends.
What indulge means
The word “indulge” means to satisfy or fulfill a desire. “Indulge with balance” is a phrase that means to enjoy things that make you happy, without going overboard.
After all, there are so many holiday delights that are both savory and sweet. It feels like there are holiday foods around every corner. You may be tempted to eat past your level of fullness because there are so many delectable options in front of you. We start to worry about putting on weight from overindulgences between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.
I found myself eating multiple pieces of a delicious Tofu Pumpkin Cheesecake that I make once a year for Thanksgiving. Tofu Pumpkin Cheesecake sounds healthy, and it is healthier than a classic pumpkin pie. However, it still has sugar and carbohydrates, which will certainly cause weight gain if eaten in excess.
How can I avoid overindulging?
The trick is finding balance when there are so many ways to indulge and enjoy the holidays without overdoing it. Eating IS natural! And it makes you feel happy; let’s not deny that fact.
If you would like to "win" over the indulgence that this time of year can bring, it’s so important to have a few tricks up your sleeve to help you get through the holiday season guilt-free. Use these simple tips to balance your holiday indulgences with healthy habits.
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These 5 practices help you indulge with balance:
1. Don’t skip meals
It might seem like a good tactic to skip meals because you know there will be an abundance of food at that holiday party or dinner, but it rarely works. Instead, envision your hunger and fullness on a scale of 1 - 10.
- a 9 or 10 rating is for when you are stuffed and might even feel nauseated.
- level 5 is satiated, not particularly hungry or full,
- while at 4 you are starting to get hungry, and by 3 your stomach is starting to growl.
- at a 1 or 2 you’re on empty. You're so hungry that you may feel lightheaded or have trouble concentrating, and will be prone to overeating.
Think about this scale and go into a meal with moderate hunger at 3 on the hunger scale. This allows you to eat until you are pleasantly full but not overly stuffed, which might feel like a 7 or 8.
2. Bring mindfulness to your eating
Mindfulness is not just for meditating. Mindfulness eating is about having awareness of all things with eating. It starts with recognizing if you are physically hungry by using the hunger scale described above.
Mindful eating includes visualizing how food looks. Notice the color and shapes of food. Notice the sensations of textures of foods as you eat.
Be aware of the speed that you are eating. Are you eating fast? If so, slow it down. Mindful eating is a strategic approach that helps avoid overeating.
3. Drink more water
This may seem like an obvious one that we all have heard many times, because it helps us from overeating. Oftentimes we are actually thirsty when we think we are hungry.
Drink a full glass of water before you eat something. Then, reassess how hungry you actually are and if you still want to eat that extra helping of mashed potatoes or that apple cranberry crisp that your aunt makes.
4. Stick to your normal routine as much as you can
Plan to eat your meals as usual with some holiday treats mixed in here and there. Go to sleep and wake up at the same time everyday. Plan out your workouts. Walking and stretching counts.
5. Self care during the holidays is more important than ever
Self care helps manage your well-being, handle stress, and avoid feeling burned out. Try a chiropractic adjustment or a massage to release physical tension from emotions stored up in our bodies. And getting what sunlight you can, on your skin and in your eyes, or simply taking a few slow exhales, is nice. Whatever makes you feel restored will work as self-care.
What Really Matters This Time of Year
Enjoy the holiday festivities with your loved ones. Socializing typically happens around meals and food. It is a way that we share our culture and traditions. Also, our body and spirit benefit from gathering and connecting with one another. If you end up eating more than you usually do or eating that Christmas cookie or extra latke, it’s okay. Don’t beat yourself up.
The holidays come once a year, so indulge with balance. Enjoy the season, family, festivities, and FOOD. In the end, it’s about how you eat between January 2nd and Thanksgiving that has the greatest impact on your weight and health.
Patsy Whatley believes that life is precious and that with knowledge and a holistic approach to chronic diseases through lifestyle changes. As Patsy watched her family’s lives improve, she knew that coaching people through nutrition and lifestyle changes would dramatically improve the quality of their life. And it will improve the quality of your life too.
Find other articles written by Patsy on her coach profile. Look to her for habits to create your best life.