Holidays often cause people angst as they try to deal with their desire to overindulge or their family traditions and then experience feelings such as guilt and shame or plain physical discomfort after the fact.
So how can you avoid the holiday angst? By keeping a balanced approach and attitude. Here are a few tips:
- Get a strategy in place you can implement. Know where your weaknesses lie, know how the flow of the meal will go and then create strategies to help support a balanced approach to the meal. If dinner is a buffet, give yourself one trip through the line instead of going up again and again. If dinner is sit down use the “one plate and done” rule, build a balanced plate and make that the only plate you eat. You can use the one plate rule for appetizers too. One plate and done, throw out the plate and drink water while you give your brain time to catch up with your stomach. Setting up a strategy prior to the meal will reduce any stress in the moment trying to figure it out in the moment (when it is most difficult).
- Listen to your body’s signals. If your body says it is full, stop eating. Take leftovers for the next day rather than trying to stuff yourself with it all in one day. You can even stop eating before you feel full because it takes a little while for your brain to get the message you’re full from the chemicals that are released by your mouth and stomach.
- Gratitude and immersion in the experience. One way to help keep yourself from overeating is to thank the Universe for the food you are going to eat. Being grateful for the experience of friends or family, a warm home and all the different sounds, smells and tastes. Step back and observe them all and have a moment of gratitude. Make food an experience, not just a moment of shoveling things in your mouth where you do not even taste anything. Enjoy the foods. Chew them slowly.
- Be consistent with your eating pattern. While you may want to “save the calories” by not eating all day until Thanksgiving dinner, but please do not do this. Our bodies do not work this way and this will actually cause your body to store the food as fat rather than break it down and mobilize the nutrients. So eat, even if it’s smaller meals.
- Do not slack on exercising. If you are traveling bring sneakers and clothes to walk outside or use the gym at the hotel. Plan it out prior. The muscle contractions that occur during exercise tell the body what to do with the food you eat (to burn and use it rather than to store it) so keep up exercising! If you are able to do resistance or weight work the day of Thanksgiving it will help your body use the carbohydrates rather then sending them into storage. While you cannot exercise off a caloric excess, it can help your body deal with it a little better than if you did not exercise at all.