Many would agree that the holidays are a time to celebrate with family and friends over good food and happy conversation. It can also be a time when we want to throw in the towel on our healthy habits. But you can still enjoy the holiday season without completely derailing your diet or the progress you have made. And the best way to do that is to plan, plan, plan. If you face the holiday season with a healthy mindset and a smart strategy then you are less likely to give in to the What the Hell Effect.
If you are like me then it’s not enough to simply tell yourself, I’m just going to have a little bit or I’ll skip dessert. You need to get specific about what you plan to do and you need to come prepared with alternatives. Taking a few steps ahead of time can completely change the way you approach holiday gatherings and special events.
Here are four of my favorite strategies for maintaining a healthy mindset during the holidays:
1. Plan your meals and have emergency snacks.
If you are traveling over the holidays be sure to pack lots of snacks for when hunger strikes. You never know if your flight will be delayed or if you are unable to have a real meal. Toss some Larabars, Rx Bars, or nuts into your bag for those moments when you need to eat. If you are staying with friends or relatives, schedule a trip to the grocery store as soon as you arrive. This way you can be sure to have some healthy choices on hand during your stay.
2. Bring your own food or dessert.
If you are not hosting the meal/gathering, check with the person who is to see what the menu includes. Offer to make or buy something that you know you will enjoy. I feel that it’s up to the host what he/she wants to offer. If it’s not something you can (or want) to eat, don’t feel obligated to eat it, but be sure to come prepared with an alternative. I think most people are understanding of dietary restrictions and wouldn’t feel insulted if you choose not to eat their meal.
3. Get movement in every day.
A good way to stay ahead of holiday indulgences is by getting some type of movement or activity in each day. Plan a hike or a family walk. Find a good running trail. Check out a local yoga studio. Many gyms allow guest passes or drop ins (for a fee) for out-of-towners. Seriously, there is no better way to keep yourself in check than with exercise.
If you want some ideas for travel-friendly exercise, check out my workouts page.
4. Avoid stressful situations and have a plan when they arise.
Sure, the holidays are meant to be enjoyable, but the reality is they can also cause an awful lot of stress. Shopping for gifts, preparing your home for guests, cooking and hosting meals can all bring about anxiety. Not to mention the family drama that can creep in
on occasion. Let’s face it – seasonal stress is inevitable and often unavoidable. When possible, try to steer clear of situations that you know cause you anxiety. If it’s impossible to avoid, have a killer plan for handling it when it crops up. Just outlining your approach can be super helpful when those circumstances arise. Note: extra alcohol may not be the answer.
This year we are hosting Christmas at our house and there are some things giving me anxiety. I’m no where close to being finished decorating our house (our dining room is still a playroom for the girls), having a presentable home on Christmas morning is impossible, figuring out what to cook and having enough options for all. These things stress me out, but I’m determined to just relax and go with it. Casual and comfy is the theme and I really want to just enjoy the company.
What are some of the ways you approach the holidays? Are you traveling this year or staying home?