How to Navigate Holiday Eating

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How to navigate holiday eating

Now that Halloween has come and gone, the November/December holidays are almost upon us. Gatherings with friends and family are being planned and that ultimately means a lot of food and holiday eating. Weight loss during this time? It’s not easy, but definitely possible if you go into it with the right mindset and a plan.

Mindset is Important No Matter What Time of Year It Is

Having the right mindset isn’t something that is exclusive to the holidays. Having the right mindset is fundamental to weight loss success no matter the time of year. It’s more important to have established the right mindset going into the holidays due to the higher levels of temptation. Read more about how to establish the right mindset in Changing Your Mindset: Understanding Weight Loss Fundamentals.

But I Can Only Have This During the Holidays…

There will always be food temptations regardless of the time of year. And while there seems to be an overabundance of “special” foods during the holiday season, it’s not like that is your only opportunity ever again to eat that food. Ask yourself if it were the middle of summer, would you still want that food? How about a random Tuesday in March? What is it about it being November/December that makes that food so much more enticing?  The mentality of, “I can only have this food now because it’s a “holiday” food and I have to get as much of it as I can now while it’s still available” is what seems to get us all.

Act Now! This Deal Won’t Last

Think of it from a marketing standpoint and how retailers try to create the feeling of scarcity. “Act now, only 5 of these left”. “For a Limited Time Only”. “The Clock is Ticking”. In the case of food it becomes a self-inflicted wound. “But I can only get Aunt Freda’s Casserole Surprise at Christmas because that’s the only time she makes it”.  Really?  What stops you from trying to make it yourself if you really want it sometime? Why not ask Aunt Freda for the recipe and then adjust it as needed to fit your weight loss plan? Or, have a little bit of it and move on. We don’t have to gorge ourselves to enjoy foods but yet the holidays seem to encourage it.

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Nothing is Limited to Any Time of Year

Nothing has to be just a “holiday” food. There’s no reason why you couldn’t make a gingerbread house in the middle of July, or a yule log in February. We have to get away from the idea that you can only get a particular treat during a specific time of year so when it is available we have to eat as much of it as we can. If we change our thinking to understand that we can have anything we want at any time of the year, the food starts to lose some of its control or appeal.

Always Start with a Plan

Going into the holidays you typically know what types of foods you are going to encounter – things like turkey, ham, stuffing, various types of potatoes, gravies, green bean casseroles, sweet potato casseroles, macaroni and cheese, pies, the list goes on and on. Arguably it’s rare that we make a full turkey dinner on a Wednesday in April so yes, the holidays are special occasions. What we have to remember is we don’t need to eat a lot of every single item to enjoy them.

Gingerbread cookies and coffee on wood table

Determine Your “Must Haves”

When facing a holiday party, meal, or even I put together my game plan ahead of time. If I know what is going to be served, I pick two or three things that I feel I absolutely must have and take a little bit of each. I fulfill my desire for the food without going overboard. I also try to contribute a healthy dish so I know I’ll have something to eat that I can measure and/or count.

If I don’t know what will be on the menu, I look over the entire spread first to determine what things I want to try and what things I can let go. You don’t have to be perfect with your eating at the holidays, but you shouldn’t see it as a license to graze the table/buffet to excess. The bottom line is to have a plan ahead of time and stay mindful throughout.

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Reality Can Bite But It Doesn’t Have To

I wish we could all just wing it and enjoy ourselves without having to worry about the consequences. I also wish I could eat everything I want in whatever quantity I want as well. Unfortunately, the “eat anything and everything” approach is not an option if I want to stay true to myself. Instead of lamenting the fact that I can’t have everything I want and complaining that “it’s just not fair”, I compromise with myself. I eat a little of what I truly love and leave the rest.

If you’re like me and have had to deal with weight issues for the majority of your life, then you know you always have to be mindful. It’s not always fun and I don’t use the word ‘spontaneity’ in relation my eating (without a lot of regret afterwards), but it’s my reality. Instead of fighting it, I make the best of each and every situation. Sometime I make mistakes, most times I get it right, but each and every time I accept whatever happens and move on.