“Eating well is not about perfection”
We are human, so perfection is not possible. A better approach involves honoring your body and knowing what works best for you and just as importantly, what doesn’t work.
Just like anything in life, preparation is key to staying lean and healthy during the holidays.
I’ve listed a few of Dr. Hyman’s valuable strategies to help you come thru the Holiday Season unscathed. My additions to Dr. Hyman’s ideas are italicized.
Make sure you read all the way to the bottom to find out how a Reset Day works wonders when there’s a ‘slip-up’ and you need to find your way back.
- Set an intention for how you would like to feel after each meal and hold yourself accountable by sharing with a close friend or family member. Or write it down and post it on your bathroom mirror to read after the event. Sometimes treating yourself to sugary and other pleasure foods is exactly what the moment calls for; however, most of the time, you’ll feel better off if you don’t indulge.
- Become the host. If you can, host your own party and take the opportunity to introduce your guests to the healthy foods you’ve been enjoying. Controlling food choices becomes easier when you have your own gathering.
- Eat a protein– and healthy-fat-packed snack an hour before your holiday meal like celery sticks with nut butter or a protein shake. Protein and fat help cut cravings for sugar and processed carbs.
- Volunteering to bring something to every gathering you attend guarantees there’s a healthy choice. (I absolutely love doing this and have found that so many people enjoy and appreciate what I bring). Here’s a Spinach Salad Recipe that’s always a hit and can easily be thrown together at the party if you’re coming from work. And check out the other recipes on this site. You’ll find many gluten and dairy free eats that will make it easy for you to pass on the sugary and gluten filled goodies.
- Avoid or limit alcohol. Alcohol reduces your inhibitions and can lead you down a slippery slope of making bad choices. Most types of alcohol are also filled with sugar and empty calories. Instead, bring or ask for sparkling water with lemon or lime. If choosing to drink, then use sparkling water as a mixer and maybe a little liquid stevia.
- Stay active and people-focused rather than entirely dwelling on food. Plan an activity to look forward to after the meal like a group walk, visiting with other friends or family, a group game or playing with younger family members. Offering to clean up and helping your host helps prevent overeating or reaching for dessert. (you’ll also make some brownie points here and maybe get invited back) I like to sit next to someone I find genuinely interesting and engage in conversation with them.
- Halfway through your meal, I recommend putting your fork down and taking a pause. Take three deep breaths and assess your hunger on scale of 1 to 10. Ask yourself how much more you need to feel satisfied yet energized and comfortable. We tend to eat more when we’re in a social situation, taking a pause brings us back to the present.
- Respond to pushers politely. Occasionally, you might have a food pusher, friend or relative ask you why you’re not indulging at a party. When this happens to me, I reply I’m here for the people, not the food. No one argues or feels insulted.
- Don’t beat yourself up. If you do happen to slip up, leave guilt behind. Guilt is a toxic emotion that creates more damage. When things get out of control (which they do), simply make a gentle U-turn. Think of this as a GPS for the soul. Your GPS doesn’t yell at you, call you stupid or judge you for taking a wrong turn. In the sweetest voice imaginable, the GPS reminds you to take the next possible U-turn. If you indulge a little, that’s fine. Did you enjoy the process? How did you react to the food that you ate? Pay attention and move on by making a U-turn and getting back to the foods and activities that make you feel great.
To help you make that U-turn, use a Reset Day at the beginning of each week and/or after a party night.
It still amazes me how fast our bodies and heads can flip back into liking sugar and salt laden junk food. It’s equally amazing how quickly it can flop back to being satisfied with foods that actually feed and nurture our bodies. It just may take a few days to retrain them, depending on how far off track we’ve strayed. But stick with it and you’ll notice the shift. I promise!
I recommend implementing a Reset Day every Monday to get back on track after the weekend, which is when we tend to be more social and eat out more.
After a vacation, I use the Reset Day menu for at least 3 days to reset my mind and mouth and to lose cravings. Yes, I go off the reservation on occasion too and it feels okay to do that.
A reset is basically eating plenty of vegetables, high quality-protein and good fats. It’s not a fast, it’s just clean eating and it works. To see an example of what this might look like click here to go to the Reset Post.
Remember, to take the time to enjoy healthy, wholesome meals with your friends and family and remember that you can heal your body and mind with each forkful of delicious real food.