I was at a holiday party this past weekend and naturally I was standing next to food with some people who were equally enthusiastic about food. As we caught up on our lives with a cookie in our hands, we all had a long conversation on 'overeating/feeling guilty/indulging/cleansing after holidays etc which stuck with me for the rest of the evening. It's awesome and sad at the same time that our lives are consumed with endless parties fueled with food and drinks starting mid November up through the end of the year. I say sad because instead of truly enjoying the holiday spirit, we take this time of the year as a free pass to 'eat/drink' whatever our stomach and jeans can hold, then lament about it, and spend $$$ on gym membership and cleansing which probably will last until March or so. I am sometimes guilty of this too and this is definitely not how we should be feeling about holidays..It's a precious time to enjoy with our loved ones, savor the food including desserts but please don't think of this as an opportunity to 'eat-all-you-can' leading to an guilt trip and self-loathing at the end of the day.
Instead of telling you the cliche 'enjoy things in moderation' or 'go all out it's the holidays', I'd like to share my top 3 things I am doing myself (it's been pretty helpful) and have suggested to my clients in order to make this holiday more enjoyable and less guilty!
- Change your mindset: Holiday does not mean you have a free pass to eat/drink whatever you please. It's natural around this time of the year to indulge in extra treats (I feel like I am surrounded by cookies all time time) but don't let go of your everyday eating/exercise routine completely just because it's a holiday season. Do your best to keep up with your everyday lifestyle but be flexible depending upon travel plans, family visiting, holiday parties etc.
- Planning ahead: This is probably my #1 tip for everything and the holiday season is no different. I hope you have your calendar marked and things planned already for upcoming parties/dinners/get-togethers. In that case, plan your meals accordingly but don't forget to do your usual grocery shopping and meal planning because:
You are better off eating breakfast at home (preferably something with protein and fiber). I don't think you should start your morning with peanut brittles or peppermint bark that someone always bring.
And because if you are going for dinner or lunch, be conscious about your other meals. Make sure you eat your nutrient-rich meals, lean protein, fruits/veggies for meals you are eating at home.
If the party just involves hors d'oeuvres, eat your dinner beforehand so that way you won't attack the snack table once you get there and eat non-stop. You live and learn!
Freezer-friendly meals (101 freezable slow cooker meals), canned soups (get the low-sodium kind), and frozen meals (masala burger or whole wheat pizza dough from Trader Joe's are my savior this week) are great alternatives to have on hand.
Instead of piling your plate with things you don't care too much - be selective and find things you truly enjoy and savor each bite. For me it's a piece or two of homemade brownies over store-bought cookies or candies.
- Squeeze in a workout: I get that life's busy with baking/shopping/socializing but finding as little as 20 minute for a quick walk/jog/yoga can make a huge difference in your energy level and overall motivation. I find that working out in the morning sets a healthy rhythm for the whole day so if you can, I highly encourage everyone to try it. I rather you reduce the intensity/length of your regular workout sessions than completely let go of it. This way you can stay on track and get right back to your normal workout sessions after the holiday madness is over.
If you need recipe ideas - please check out my recipe index page, there are plenty of recipe ideas especially breakfast and vegetarian ones. Also, I plan on sharing relatively easy recipe for meals/breakfast with recipe on the facebook page regularly, so please like the page if you haven't already because I want to make sure you are fully equipped so you can have a wonderful, guilt-free time with your loved ones.