The holidays are a time to come together and celebrate with family and friends…over Champagne, pecan pie, peppermint bark, nut truffles, garlic bread, hot cheese dip and Grandma’s famous chocolate cake. Ugh.
If you’re used to a healthy diet, a holiday round of indulgences can set you back physically and mentally. Even with the best intentions, it can be hard to stay healthy when those you love are egging you on to have one more glass of eggnog. However, it is possible to exit the holiday season still feeling your best and without an additional five pounds.
First, healthy holidays start long before the end of December arrives. If you don’t have a healthy eating plan, then you are planning to eat junk. Whether you are abstaining from sugar or alcohol, or just eating smaller amounts of food than the holidays seem to require, visualize being offered delicious fatty foods and tempting sweets by those you love. Create an image of Grandma’s face in your head, offering you a second helping of cake with a “you would eat it if you loved me” look on her face. Then imagine yourself politely saying no, and giving Grandma a big hug instead.
When you’ve visually practiced sticking to your guns in the very face of temptation, the actual event will just be another chance to practice your willpower. Family members and friends can be pushy during the holidays, so just practice repeating, “no thank you,” over and over – it will come in handy when Cousin Rob tries to hoist another beer into your hand at the Christmas party.
If you have the opportunity to host your family’s big holiday gathering, you’ll be in control of what is served and how healthy each dish is. But when you’re the guest, you’re at the mercy of your host. While it is acceptable to call in advance to say you are vegetarian or allergic to wheat, calling to say you can’t eat fatty, unhealthy foods may not go over very well. People see the holidays as a time to splurge and let go of dietary rules, and they may not understand that for you, a healthy diet brings a sense of peace and wholeness to your body and spirit. Try to bring a healthy dish to the parties you attend, and remember that with the correct portion size, you can eat anything in moderation without gaining weight.
Finally, resolve to make movement an integral part of your holiday tradition. Does your family plop in front of the television after a big meal to rub their bellies and curse football teams? Head out on a walk around the neighborhood instead for a brisk jaunt in the cold winter air. Chances are, there are others in your group of family and friends that need a little motivation to get moving. Your commitment to your health may just be the inspiration that a loved one needs to make positive changes in his or her life. Be the inspiration!