The holidays are meant to be a time of joy and celebration spent with family and friends. However, It is all too common to have increased levels of stress, anxiety, unfavorable eating patterns (restricting, binging, etc.), and decreased self-awareness during the holidays. Here are a few dietitian approved tips to help you have a mindful holiday season.
Five Tips for a Mindful Holiday Season
Tip #1: Nourish yourself throughout the day
It’s important to establish an eating pattern for yourself and remain consistent with it. yes, even throughout the holidays. Each day should include three meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a snack in between meals if desired.
If you are attending a holiday gathering, avoid saving your appetite for it and showing up hungry. Instead, have your regular breakfast and lunch prior to attending. Once you are at the gathering, only choose the foods you truly enjoy. It’s okay to pass on those that don’t really interest you. And of course, opt for adding veggies to your plate if they are available.
Tip #2: Politely say “no” to food pushers
Point of view: You’re at a holiday gathering, and you are pleasantly comfortable after eating your entire plate. Your friend comes up to you and says “hey you have to try this, it tastes like heaven!” While it is tempting, you have the right to say “no, I will have to pass” or “Awesome, I’ll have to take it home to try later.”
Taking it home to try later gives you the opportunity to space meals out, and eat your desired portion.
Tip #3: Focus on the fun more than the food
While food is definitely a focal point of the holidays, it is great to also focus on the fun. Holiday themed games, decorating, and wrapping gifts all provide laughs and fun. Offer to help out with hanging decor, or running to the store to pick up needed items.
Focusing on the festivities not only keeps you active, but puts you back into a mindful state, as you spend quality time and create memories with your favorite people.
Tip #4: Drinks and Decisions
It is well known that alcohol intake can alter decision making, which can lead to not being present in the moment, and even eating more than you planned.
Plan ahead, drink from smaller wine/cocktail glasses, or assign an accountability partner. If you are planning to drink for an extended period, find a room/space away from the table of food.
Tip #5: Follow the 80/20 Rule
What is the “80/20 Rule”? The rule is to eat nutritious 80% of the time, and treat yourself to your favorites the other 20% of the time. So, there’s no need to skip the gingerbread and pumpkin flavored treats, just portion and pace yourself!
While it is tempting to make it to every holiday event you are invited to, it may not always be feasible. These are the times to listen to yourself and your body. How are you feeling? Are you rested and hydrated? If you have a regular routine of eating and exercise, will the time or day of the gathering impose on that routine? These are all things to consider when deciding on attending multiple holiday events.