‘Tis the season to be carby. Fa la la la la, la la la la. It’s a joyful time of year, but it’s also the season that I hear most of my clients beating themselves up for eating that slice of pie or second helping of mashed potatoes. If we’re not enjoying the joy what’s the point, right? Cut the nonsense and senseless negative self-chatter. You have worked hard all year, perhaps on your fitness, self-improvement through meditation, or that big promotion. Treat yourself instead of punishing yourself with deprivation. That’s the spirit! Now, throw on something sparkly and go to that holiday party with a holly, jolly attitude.
Here are 5 tips for navigating though all those holiday potlucks:
Embarking on a holiday party is like taking a road trip, so get out a map! Scope out where you’re going and what pit stops you need. Remember: you are steering the wheel. At the same time, this is the moment to let your hair down, throw caution to the wind, and blindly grab a mixtape for the journey. Don’t confuse choices with rules. So what if you wind up taking a wrong turn at the soiree, and you have an extra cookie or one more ginger martini (is that a thing?) Don’t hang around on the corner of self-loathing and pity-party of one — enjoy the festivities! Here’s a tip: when entering the party, get a visual of all the goodies and set your own intentions. You’ve got this.
2. Never Potluck on an Empty Stomach
A non-negotiable rule to live by is never enter a party starving, Eat a protein and fiber-rich breakfast and have small snacks or meals throughout the day to boost energy and feed your metabolism. Try a handful of raw nuts, healthy fats, a slice of toast with almond butter, or berries and yogurt. When your body is running on fumes, you will end up eating everything on site because you’re in starvation mode. Your brain is not functioning properly either, which makes your smart choice barometer askew, causing you to wind up with an overloaded plate, and belly.
3. When in doubt, go naked
Naked food that is. Look for the raw, the grilled, the baked and the broiled. Just say “nay” to fried, slathered in creamy, ooey, gooey foods. Instead, load up on proteins and veggies. Find items that you can customize yourself by adding the desired amount of sauce, sprinkles, and spices. This time, being a little bit of a control freak can come in handy. Make a fave healthy dish to bring to the potluck.
4. Mind Your Eating
This is a year round tip! Satiety is not just about portion. At a potluck, you can regulate your serving size, but you can also go back for seconds, thirds, fourths, and so on. Tune into your body’s “tank-is-full” signal. Take a moment and give thanks for the love that went into the preparation of the meals. Eat slower, chew your food, savor the flavors and take small bites. You will be surprised by the way your digestive system begins to work in your favor — a happy full feeling without the bloat! That means extra room to enjoy dessert, and not feeling like you need to lie down on the couch between courses.
5. Your Glass Is Half Full
Get perspective by being grateful. No wallowing. Does having an extra brownie bite call for whining all night to your bestie that you are going to have to workout for four hours tomorrow to burn it off? No! Perceptions and emotions intensify during the holidays. The pressure we put on ourselves weighs much more than the reality of a couple extra pounds that you might gain during the entire holiday season. The trick to living “guilt-free” is giving yourself permission to be human. We all have “oops” moments; it’s about how you recover and the lessons we learn. The healthiest gift to give this season is practicing forgiveness and self-love.
photo credit: Brook Lark