As most people, I find the holidays can be quite a challenge when it comes to trying to stay on your healthy eating plan. Maybe you can make it a healthy holiday eating plan with some boundaries rather than restrictions!
I see it all the time with clients and they drop their entire healthier eating plan during the holiday month. They make it a HoliWEEK or HoliMONTH….then ask me to help them recover some time in January.
I suggest an 80/20 rule not just for a healthy holiday season, and maybe every day of the year.
What is my 80/20 rule?
80% of the time, you do the best you can at eating the healthiest way for you. That leaves 20% wiggle room to enjoy your treats and celebration beverages. For some, you may opt for 75/25, 50/50 or 90/10. I find 80/20 to be more realistic for holidays so the post-feasting suffering is minimal.
I have long hated the term “cheat day’. It implies we are cheating and doing something bad. It implies punishment (and self-loathing) is close behind!! But many of us have embraced the cheat day and make the holidays a cheat month. There is nothing wrong with that either if you do choose that way of thinking. I would just like you to reconsider it and choose a more loving, kind way to treat your body without harsh restrictions or harsh over-indulgences. We need balance even during the holidays 🙂
Here are some of my suggestions on how to get through the holiday season, holiday parties and gatherings using this 80/20 rule for a healthy holiday:
- Be mindful about your choices:
When coming into the holiday season, or going to a gathering, just try to be mindful of your choices. It does not have to be perfect! And it usually will not be unless you make a concerted effort to do so.
Try not to skip meals to save up for the party. Choose more vegetables over grains.
- Try to keep a balance between your nutrients in your meals:
When building the plate, whether at the party, dinner, or at home, try to choose green vegetables first. Cover half of your plate with those vegetables. Then choose your protein, then fat, then your carbohydrates. Keep in mind, if you want dessert, you may want to forgo the potatoes with dinner. Then choose a sliver of the dessert so you don’t feel overwhelmed when the sugar rush kicks in…and drops a couple hours later. It is about finding the balance and doing the best you can with the choices in front of you.
- If you want more vegetables at the gathering, maybe YOU need to bring them!
Several years ago, I went to a Thanksgiving dinner with my BF at the time. I offered to bring green beans almondine and my homemade cranberry chutney. Thank goodness I did, as the only ‘green vegetable’ available was green bean casserole. In my opinion, this is not really a vegetable anymore as it is over cooked, dead vegetables drowned in gross artificial soup. There would have been no pleasure in consuming that vegetable entree! But that is me – I know others love it.
Would I have eaten it if I had not brought my green beans almondine? Probably not as I feel it would be suffering! I would have just chosen to eat the proteins mainly and not enjoyed the meal as much. Sometimes, you just make do with what is offered, but bringing it yourself guarantees you will have one thing you can eat and enjoy! Besides dessert 🙂
- Remember, alcohol is a ‘sugar’.
Alcohol is one of those social occasion drinks for me. I do drink a glass or two of wine at most gatherings, but rarely a home alone. In keeping with the “keep the balance” theme, if you choose to drink alcohol (wine, spirits, beer, champagne), consider it is a sugar or carb. Then balance the meals with less potatoes, bread, pasta, rice, etc and keep the balanced plate like in point 2: Half a plate of green vegetables (with healthy fat on top?), some protein and minimal carbohydrates.
- Eat until you are comfortable vs. full.
Pay attention to your satiety level. This not about portion control per say, but about keeping with what is a normal amount of food for your stomach. Yes, it is holidays, but gorging is probably going to make you feel uncomfortable not only at the meal, but hours later. It may also affect your sleep if you eat too much.
If you over-stuff your stomach, you will have a very hard time digesting that food. Kind of like over stuffing a washing machine with clothes – they get wet, but do they really get clean? Similar idea – if you over stuff the stomach, can the items really get digested properly? Eventually, yes, but not easily and not comfortably. If this seems to be your pattern, consider adding a digestive enzyme to aid in the digestion process.
I had to do this last month where surprisingly, the thing that got me stuffed was drinking a glass of mineral water. Guess I was not paying attention to my own satiety!
BE mindful to chew your food into a puree before you swallow it. This also helps with eating as much as you need vs. over-eating. You may want to adopt this every meal, not just holiday meals!
Hopefully these suggestions on mindfulness and balance can help you though the holiMONTH with a new perspective that won’t affect our waistline. Implementing the 80/20 rule for the holidays can be the difference between inner peace and peace with your body!
It will also make the transition into the new year a little less weighty!
Happy Healthy Holidays!