Ahh December - the month where all rules go out the window. Hot chocolate every night? In December. Staying up late watching movies and eating popcorn during the week? In December. Holiday parties and happy hours every week? In December! In some ways, these are what make this month so great. But it can be hard to remove all the guilt associated with these events. In some cases, detach guilt might even throw you farther in the opposite direction. My goal is to create a health positive lifestyle, which includes avoiding binge behaviors, paralyzing and self-defeating guilt, and mentally respecting ourselves from the inside. A little bit of guilt is okay as it might spark a change in you. However, ruminating on our guilt and wishing we could undo our actions, to the point of unhealthy compensation, will get you nowhere.
Let's avoid getting to this point over the holidays while also enjoying everything this month has to offer. Here are some tips for doing that:
Power up before gift shopping
Picture this: it's 5:00 pm. You just left work and are in your car. It's dark out because #December. Lunch is but a distant memory at this point. Traffic everywhere. You pull into the mall parking lot and hunt for a spot at least in sight of one of the entrances. You find one, bundle up in your coat, and run into the mall. MAYHEM. Stressed, hungry, and tired, you head directly to one of the stores. When you finally find what you came for, the line is so long you're tempted to just give up and give a cash gift instead. You decide not to do that again this year so you wait it out. You pay and leave and head to the next store. And then the food court appears. You realize you haven't eaten in over 5 hours. Dinner isn't for at least another hour. You decide to just give in and eat dinner at one of the fast food restaurants. What normally would have been a nutrient dense option now turns into a greasy, carby pile of comfort and stress eating. Once you're done eating, you attempt to finish your shopping but you're so tired and don't have the energy anymore. You push through, leave the mall, get home and fall asleep on the couch.
Don't let this be you. Eat a snack before you go to the mall, or grab a filling, nutrient dense dinner before your mind is taken over by holiday shopping stress. Keep satisfying snack options in your desk or work refrigerator that you can grab before heading out, especially if you're in a rush.
Bring your own food
Offer to bring a nutrient dense side dish to any of the holiday parties you get invited to this month. That way, you'll be sure there will be at least one satisfying food item to help you keep your inner peace.
Keep track of what you eat
Be aware of the sugary snacks you're eating. It's okay to indulge and enjoy the holiday treats. I know I will be enjoying them! Practice mindful eating and bring awareness to the amount and number of treats you're eating.
*Don't obsess over your food intake. That is not the goal, here. Be mindful and practice mindful eating. Start by asking yourself: Is this what I'm really craving?
Manage portion sizes
Preaching to myself on this one! Portion sizes are a key part of mindful eating. Here's my strategy for filling up my plate and managing portion sizes. First round - take a look at all the foods available to you. Get one small scoop of everything you want. Did you hear me? ONE SMALL SCOOP. Enjoy that plate to the fullest. Wait a little bit and see what your body really wants in terms of seconds. Then, head back up to the food area and grab seconds of just what you're really wanting
Keep a water bottle on you at all times! I can't emphasize this one enough. Staying hydrated will not only improve your mood and help you better listen to your hunger cues, but it will keep you from feeling lethargic and reaching for an afternoon dehydrating cup of caffeine. It's especially important to stay hydrated when you're enjoying those alcoholic beverages. Those delicious holiday cocktails can be full of sugar and leave you feeling dehydrated and sluggish the next morning. Make sure you're drinking a glass of water between each libation.