Make This Your Healthiest Holiday Season Yet

Guest Post by Jocelyn

Although it seems that summer was just here and that the holiday season is altogether too far away to start thinking about holiday eating, the truth is that it’s never too early!  How and when we start thinking about how we’re going to prepare ourselves for the arrival of holidays and all the abundance of sugary, processed, highly carb-laden treats is crucial.  General consensus has it that it takes about 21-28 days to establish a habit.  If this is the case, starting now will put us in an excellent position to be ready even prior to Thanksgiving and be ready to power our way through December and into January, ready to continue our healthy eating patterns, not start them as a resolution.  Besides, wouldn’t you rather set new resolutions this year?  Ones much more fun than “eating carefully” or “losing holiday weight” and things more like “go skydiving!”

While we can control (and should control!) what food items make it into our own homes, it’s impossible to do this for social activities, the social activities that are about to multiply triple fold in our lives very soon.  And, what do we do at the majority of social festivities?  We surround ourselves with food, and unfortunately, it’s usually the types of food that tend to be high in sugar, fats, carbs, etc.

Taking in mind that you can keep your home stocked as normal and keep out those items that would prove particularly tempting or dangerous (Christmas cookies are not allowed in my home!), I am going to share some of the tips that have worked best for me when it comes to eating outside of the house.  There’s no reason to skip social events simply because of the food.  You can always “make it work,” just adjust accordingly and prepare yourself to practice the will-power you’re about to start building up!

Cut Down Your Food Options

Sometimes one of the safest things to do in times when the types and quantities of foods available are sure to be overwhelming, is to make yourself a list of all the foods you are going to let yourself eat for a set period of time, like a week.  After the week, create a new list.  If it’s not on the list, it’s not an option.  It’s amazing how easy it is to resist a food if the option to “decide” whether or not you’ll eat it is simply gone.  If you have a “choice,” chances are good you might cave in the moment.  But if the choice is non-existent, you won’t have to think about it.  End of story!

Bring Your Own Approved Options

If you’re worried there really will be nothing you’ll be able to feel good about having eaten afterwards, ensure that you have options by bringing your own!  Bring veggie-rich dishes that double as appetizer/meal.  If it’s a sit-down, offer to bring a side dish that doubles as a main dish, like a hearty vegetable casserole or a filling veggie soup.  For hors d’oeuvres, your options are much more open.  Fruits, vegetables, wraps, you name it!  Bring a variety and bring lots, there’s a good chance you aren’t the only one hoping for choices that won’t break your caloric allotment for the day in just a bite!

Eat the Same, Every Day

Even if you have a party that night, do not, eat any differently throughout the day.  All it really takes is one day of throwing your eating pattern off to put your whole system outta whack.  And, while many feel that if they eat less throughout the day, they’ll have more calories “available” for that night, this is a bad idea on multiple levels.  Number one, you’ll get to the party ravenous and be much more inclined to eat anything and everything and continue to do so until the “starving” pangs go away.  Secondly, as I mentioned, breaking “rules” or patterns, even if just for the day, can make doing so the next day seem like no big deal, until you find yourself a week into off eating patterns and your hard-earned habits put under unnecessary stress.

Got the Munchies?  Munch on Water

We’ve all been there.  We’re sitting around chatting, maybe enjoying a glass of wine and relaxing, maybe playing a card game or two or maybe even catching a thrilling game of football.  And, everyone else is munching.  You can hear the crunching of chips and pretzels and finger foods in every direction, and suddenly you too, have an unstoppable case of the munchies.  Now, while you may not literally be able to munch on water, you can do the next best thing and fight the urge by munching on water laden foods.  Find veggie choices like celery sticks, cucumber slices, lettuce, tomatoes, etc.  Broccoli is a fantastic choice, it’s 91% water!  Carrots are close runners up at 87%.  See fruit nearby?  Grab the watermelon (92% water) and citrus options like oranges or grapefruit (90%).  You’ll fill up your stomach with volume, leading to that “full” feeling, all while keeping your fingers and mouth busy, allowing you to feel like you’re much right along with the best of them.  And only you know that each one of those Pringles is about 10 calories a piece but you’re eating an entire cup of celery for 20!

In the End

When it comes down to it, you can read all the articles you want and try all the “secrets” you happen to find, but it just takes practice.  It takes a habit of healthy eating.  And really, the only way to succeed in the holiday season is to have that habit already in place.  So, start now!  Here’s to instilling wonderful, healthy, delicious eating habits that will energize us and power us through the holiday seasons.  (And bonus!  Our new year’s resolutions won’t have to involve a new gym membership!)

About the author: Freelancer Jocelyn is passionate about living healthy, sustainable lifestyles, particularly in eating.  When not writing foodie related articles, you’ll find her at work writing green tips for hot water heater selection and use.

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