Keeping a healthy diet is hard enough without all the extra temptation around the holidays, but you don’t need to give up on healthy eating just because you know you’ll be surrounded by cookies at every turn. Accept failures, but also make a plan to choose your food wisely. Give yourself some allowances while following a few simple suggestions to stay motivated. Eating right and eating well don’t have to be at odds.
Juice Up with Java
You may have heard about the recent studies on the health benefits of coffee. I’m not talking about sugary coffee-flavored drinks, but real brewed coffee. In addition to the obvious energy boost, there is a slew of studies showing links between coffee drinking and lowered risk of chronic diseases, such as liver cancer. For your holiday-themed balanced diet, coffee will dull your hunger pangs for long enough to get your thinking straight. A little stevia and full-fat cream can help satisfy your craving too.
Holiday parties and get-togethers often require you to bring a dish to share. Even if there are some foods you’re staying away from, you can bring an item you’ll enjoy without worry. Pull out a special, new recipe you’ve been wanting to try. That extra effort will give you something to look forward to.
Eating and gatherings go hand in hand, and I find it awkward to continue my diet plans when it comes to social situations. Don’t plan for strict eating, and enjoy the time. Feeling guilty leads to a downward spiral of, “I’ll just start over in January.” You can be your own worst enemy! When I’m following my normal routines at work and home, I focus on staying on track and eating healthy, and I adjust my expectations when I’m having fun with friends.
Dessert (Plate) First
A full plate has been scientifically proven to give you the feeling of satisfaction, so pick up a dessert plate from the stack and fill it with your main course. Dessert plates are usually smaller, so this will help keep your portions reasonable even if you go back for seconds.
Willpower isn’t a finite commodity. You’re bound to deplete your conviction to eat right if you’re keeping yourself hungry at the wrong times. Expect to be hungry! I bring healthy food to the office to snack on at meetings to give me a little extra willpower. I try to go for high-protein and satisfying snacks: jerky, boiled eggs and salt, slices of gouda with a few cashews or almond butter and celery. That helps me keep my eyes off the plate of donuts on the table.
When there’s a food table with all the trimmings, do yourself a favor and take a spin around the block. Take a look at all the offerings, eyeing the good stuff, and choose your favorites. You don’t have to eat everything, and you can skip it for now if it’s something you know you’ll have the chance to eat again. If you’re going to veer off the path for a bit, you’ll want it to be for something special.
Mariko is a high school English teacher who has three children, illegible handwriting and an obsession with mail-order artisan ice cream. She lives in Hawaii, but she makes a point to eat her way through big cities as often as she can.