The ideas I've heard from patients are awesome:
- making all get-togethers potluck
- getting children involved with housework and wrapping
- opting for family experiences as gifts instead of toys and other "stuff"
- purchasing baked goods (Try: Shine Baking Co. - allergy friendly options for those who are gluten free, dairy free, egg free etc.)
- pre-cooking the meal to avoid spending the day in the kitchen
- serve a buffet
- 3 gifts only: something you want, something you need, something to wear
- keep up or start the adrenal support for stress now to improve resilience
- make time for yourself too
The holiday season is a huge test for your new and hard-earned lifestyle changes. I totally think it's a time to enjoy some indulgence, but I don't believe that you need to feel gross for the next 4 weeks straight either. If you find yourself thinking that it's a good thing you got new track pants or pajamas then it might be time to reassess your tendencies. If you are eating a whole tray of baking at a time, if you're stress eating, if you're feeling pressured to eat foods that you know don't agree with you then we need to reevaluate (and maybe even in person). In the meantime, here are some great tips for staying on track.
How to Navigate Eating Over the Holidays
1. Eat your regular meals - sometimes we want to skip meals if we know we have a big feast coming (or we get busy and forget), try to just eat lighter and focus on veggies, healthy fats and protein at your regular mealtimes to keep your blood sugar stable (and prevent you filling up on appetizers when you arrive at your event).
2. Get some activity - whether it's the gym or a snowball fight or public skating, move your body to keep your mood up and burn some calories.
3. Eat before you leave - having a small meal before you go will prevent you from being tempted by foods you know aggravate your health. (Just like grocery shopping when you're hungry leads to a cart full of junkfood).
4. Make special requests - everyone is entitled to feel good, but sometimes we hesitate to inform our hosts of food sensitivities which can make them feel just as awkward when you can't eat the food they've prepared. This likely won't go over as well for people with multiple sensitivities - dairy free, gluten free, egg free only please ;)
5. Bring things you can eat - bring your own safe foods so that you know you have an option: crackers, dip, salad, etc. You can always warn your host privately ahead of time - I know that many of you aren't comfortable asking for special accommodations, so this is a way around that.
6. Beverages - keep hydrated to stay energetic and also prevent cravings. For every alcoholic drink, have one glass of water. Minimize sugary alcohol drinks like egg-nog which have a lot of extra calories. White wine spritzers can be a good alternative, also gin & tonic or vodka & soda. As long as you have something in your hand, you will generally be left alone (sad but true!). I've been loving the flavoured sparkling waters lately.
7. Arm Yourself - if you have a food sensitivity or trigger that causes immediate symptoms, you can arm yourself with digestive enzymes and probiotics to prevent some of the side effects. The same is true if you experience anxiety in social situations or with family stress, we can discuss your best remedy choice.
8. Don't be afraid to stand up for yourself - if someone is trying to pressure you into eating a second serving of dessert, just say no (politely) and excuse yourself from the conversation. If you actually want the item that's being offered, that's ok - enjoy it. Check in with yourself and decide if you are making the best choice for you, or are you being driven by other feelings like guilt?
9. Focus on People - get-togethers are about enjoying the company around you. Position yourself away from the buffet table and use smaller plates to prevent overeating, then enjoy catching up with friends or family.
10. Sleep - just as it's important to stay on routine with foods, keeping your regular sleep schedule will help control stress (cortisol) and regulate blood sugar (AKA cravings!).
11. Be kind to yourself - relax and have fun because a healthy lifestyle is about what you choose each and every day of the year, not in one meal. At this time of year we aren't judging others on what they're eating, and we shouldn't judge ourselves either. Start the next day fresh and let go of guilt.
12. Remember your why - remind yourself of why you chose a healthier lifestyle in the first place. Was it to lose weight, feel better in your own skin, be energetic, have less pain, stop feeling bloated? It's easier to stay focused and avoid de-railing your lifestyle if you remember why you're doing it in the first place.
Take care of yourself and each other this season,