These two happy, festive words bring the anticipation of fun-filled months of celebration to mind as we imagine cooler weather, decorating our homes with signs of the season, and that time-honored tradition of stepping on the scale and realizing we gained five pounds in two months.
Wait, that isn’t part of your happy holiday scene? No, not many of us want to begin the New Year atoning for the revelry of the holidays. But, we often find ourselves facing that reality every January and launching a diet to reverse the damage.
Fortunately, having a healthier holiday (and erasing the sad story of the January scale) doesn’t have to mean skipping the office potluck or eating salad instead of turkey and stuffing. It can be as simple as stopping to ask yourself three simple questions.
This year, don’t worry about what you eat. Instead, focus on why, when, and where. By taking cues from our surroundings and environment, we can create healthier holidays that focus on family and friends, not food.
Why am I eating?
It’s no secret that we eat for reasons other than hunger. Celebrations, tragedies, anxious nerves, and boredom are all send us to the pantry looking for something to nibble on or distract us. On holidays, however, these triggers become amplified and seem more urgent than they would on any other Thursday. To make your holiday healthier, take note of why you’re eating before you take a bite. Is your stomach growling, or did your house just turn into Grand Central Station with the arrival of family? If you’re not actually hungry, reconsider that nibble and instead focus your energy on taking deep breaths and drinking some water.
When am I eating?
Eating every three to four hours is recommended to keep our metabolisms humming and prevent drops in blood sugar. However, hosting family gatherings sometimes leave little time for well-balanced meals and snacks. If you find yourself hastily eating a slice of pumpkin pie as soon as Aunt Betty begins critiquing your homemade stuffing or surviving on cheese and crackers laid out for holiday guests, call a time-out. Pre-package some sliced fruit or chopped vegetables with a healthy fat such as whole, natural almonds and stash them away for yourself. When the time comes to eat, you’ll have something healthy that will provide the energy and satiation to withstand the most jovial of holiday guests.
Where am I eating?
Eating on the couch while watching football, eating while standing and socializing at a party, and eating in the car when up for Black Friday shopping will all likely lead to eating many more calories than we realize or need. Limit meals to the table and when you have to eat on the go, measure your portion and pack it ahead to ensure portion control. Staying fueled for holiday shopping is easy and guilt-free when you know your snacks are helping your body stay healthy, not adding on unwanted pounds.
The holidays are full of delicious aromas, flavors, and time-honored recipes, all of which can be enjoyed with a focus on the psychology of food. By taking just a few moments to note why, when, and where we are eating, it’s easy to stay healthy through the holidays and enter the New Year minus one resolution.
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– HEATHER FUSELIER, CHWC, CFP, TTS
Health Advisor | Email Heather