There is definitely something about the holidays that make this time of year special: the colors of the seasons, the cold temperatures outside diminished by the warmth of a burning fireplace, and the seasonal foods that define each family’s long-time traditions. There truly is a comfort and joy associated with all of these things.
On the contrary, this time of year brings many of us discomfort and guilt as we do our best to manage the variety of treats and overall calories that come along with all of these seasonal comforts. We may focus, instead, on all the things we cannot have instead of looking positively on what we can have. Focusing on negative thoughts only reinforces the increasing guilt and anxiety about holiday traditions and the foods that are associated with them. This can result in a sense that all dietary control is lost, and health goals are put off and reshaped into a New Year’s resolution.
Entering the holidays with a fresh, mindful approach can bring back the comfort and joy while still keeping your health goals on track. Eating mindfully increases awareness of what and how you eat. Consider these suggestions to help you navigate your holiday food traditions, and you will find a mindful balance that brings you a more peaceful and gratifying holiday season.
- Remember that traditions are like habits and habits can be broken, or at least, adjusted to better fit your health goals. There is never a shortage of holiday cookies, so instead of making cookie trays one evening with your kids, bundle up and walk the neighborhood looking at Christmas lights.
- If you don’t love it, don’t eat it! Save those precious calories for the treats you look forward to all year long. Then, savor and enjoy those treats…guilt free.
Maintain a normal eating routine. Include a hearty, high protein breakfast, and light snacks that include fruits and vegetables. Staying on top of your appetite by eating regularly will prevent mindless eating caused by uncontrolled hunger.
- Embrace seasonal fruits and vegetables. Serve chopped fruit topped with pomegranate seeds and rich chocolate balsamic vinegar for dessert, or replace a high-fat butternut squash soup with a low-fat savory version.
- Ask yourself the question, “Am I eating mindfully?” This simple question separates emotionally driven eating from true hunger. If you cannot say yes to the question, put it down and walk away.
Make this holiday special by committing as a family to create one new healthful holiday tradition. You will find the holidays are even more memorable and special as your family focuses less on food and more on time spent together.