The holidays have arrived - whether we are ready for them or not! While these next few weeks can be an overwhelmingly exciting time, it can also mark a time of increased anxiety and stress. These feelings of anxiousness can be further triggered by food decision-making that is outside of our normal realm of eating. Here are a few tips to stay balanced and hopefully decrease the stress around your food choices this holiday season.

1. Check in with your hunger and fullness cues.

When there is food in excess at every family or holiday event, we can make impulsive versus mindful decisions. Check in with what your body is telling you before, mid-way and after each meal. Are you hungry? Are you full? Are you starving before? Overly full after? Is this physical hunger? If so, eat something! Are you emotionally or mindlessly eating? Check in.  

2. Don’t starve yourself before your “big” meal.

The notion of “saving your calories” until your holiday dinner is not helpful in creating or maintaining a healthy relationship with food. You have every right to eat normally before a holiday dinner. In fact, it’s encouraged. Starving yourself for the entire day only sets you up to compulsively binge eat , feel overfull and be sick afterward. Start your day with balanced meals full of fiber and protein. This will actually help you eat more mindfully at dinner and be less likely to overeat until that “sick full” feeling sets in.

3. Make a plate, sit and eat mindfully.

Take a look around at the next holiday gathering. Take notice to how the people graze through the food. A lot of the times, people mindlessly “pick” instead of creating an actual plate, sitting down, eating and enjoying their food. Make a plate of the things you want to eat. This helps in sticking to healthy portion sizing and making sure your meal was satisfying.

4. Keep your goals in mind.

Remember how you want to feel before, during and after your meals. Set the intention and keep that in the back of your mind at meal times.

5. Scope out the healthy options first.

Loading up on fresh fruit, veggies or salad in the beginning of the meal can help prevent cravings later on. You can also bring a healthy platter of your own so you can guarantee at least one option will be in line with your goals.

6. Enjoy the special holiday foods you don’t normally get to have.

Diet mindset is truly a difficult thing to break. We need to forget the restrictive rules so that diets in mass media have taught us (ie “don’t eat carbs, they make you fat!”) and listen to our bodies to guide us along the correct route. Plus, if you want to eat the cookie, and you deprive yourself in that moment, more likely than not you will continue to think about it until finally you cave and have a much larger portion of cookies than you originally intended. Eat the cookie you want to begin with, then move on. It’s important to eat a satisfying, realistic diet (it’s not realistic to never eat a cookie). It’s okay.

7. Drink plenty of water.

Especially if you plan on drinking over the holidays. Make it a goal to drink one glass of water between each drink. Try to limit alcohol as well if possible.

8. Stay active.

Move your body at least once a day. Whether it’s stretching, taking an exercise class, going for a run, or just walking around your neighborhood - try to stay physically active. This will help improve your overall energy and mood during a time where stress may be high, causing you to feel fatigued. Meditation is encouraged during this time as well. Just taking 5 deep breaths a few times throughout the day can make a difference.

9. Prioritize self-care.

Self-care can still be and should be top priority over the holidays. The holidays can trigger a range of emotions. It’s important to be patient and compassionate with yourself. Take the time to take care of your mental, physical and emotional health. This also includes healthy boundaries. If someone is trying to push food on you, you have every right to decline and not feel guilted into taking it. You can simply say “I’m here for the people, not the food”.

10. Focus less on food and more on your values.

What is something you’d like to remember looking back on this year? Try not to put so much energy on food and weight loss during this time. Additionally, don’t beat yourself up if you chose a portion of food that may not “be in line with your goals.” Move past it. It’s fine to indulge a little. Focus on the people you’re spending time with, the great food that comes once a year, and remember to practice gratitude for all that you have.

Cook up some healthy meals to have on hand for before and after big holiday get togethers. Check out the Well Made Recipe Book - full of yummy, plant-based recipes to keep you on track this season.

Wishing you a calm, peaceful and healthy holiday!

With gratitude x