During the holidays, it is really hard to eat healthy foods. If you’re going out to a holiday party or family gathering, you need to know how to have fun and stay well. Here are some effective strategies to help you eat healthier for the holidays.
Communicate with the host in advance
Talk to your host several days before the gathering. Don’t wait until you get there.
If you are eating a whole food plant-based diet, here’s what you might say:
“I eat differently than most other people. I eat foods that are low-fat and vegan, so I don’t eat meat or dairy. I eat a lot of vegetables, beans, sweet potatoes, and fruits.”
Offer to bring a dish
Your host is going to love this! When you bring food, it makes things so much easier. You have something you want to eat, and the host doesn’t have to figure out how to feed you.
Eat before you go
Many people skip meals in the morning so they can overeat at the holiday dinner. That’s a bad idea and can harm you. When you arrive starving, you are likely to eat everything in sight and end up in a food coma.
More importantly, a heavy meal increases the risk of having a heart attack. Prevent this by eating a healthy, low-fat meal just before you go out, so you’re not hungry when you arrive. Then all those artery-clogging holiday foods look less tempting.
Prepare for the tempting offer
You’ll likely experience external pressure to eat stuff that’s unhealthy.
Here’s how to handle it:
Somebody says, “Aren’t you going to have some cake? Just a little won’t hurt.”
Kindly say, “No. Thank you for offering. I have what I need for now.”
If you do choose to indulge, at least it should be your idea. Eating for the sake of being polite makes you feel even worse.
Avoid sharing too much information
People are naturally curious when someone eats differently. You’re going to get questions. Nevertheless, don’t give a lecture on nutrition. It’s okay to answer one or two questions about your food, but don’t dwell on it. Quickly change the subject. Talk about what you’re celebrating and stay in a festive, lighthearted mood.
Skip the debate
Don’t get pulled into a debate or argument over healthy vs. unhealthy food. It’s not your job to be the food police.
Drink plenty of water
Water refreshes your tissues, detoxifies your cells, and reduces your caloric intake. As a general rule for your best health, avoid the alcohol, eggnog, and sweetened beverages.
Stay on the move
Exercise and take a walk in the morning. Try not to spend the whole holiday sitting around. You’ll have healthier blood sugars, better blood pressure, and more energy.
Bounce back fast
What if you cannot resist and indulge in unhealthy holiday eating? Don’t stay there for long. Understand your tremendous resilience and capacity to get back on track.
Focus on what makes your health important to you. Stay inspired and little by little you will succeed.
Carla Hightower, MD, MBA is a physician, health coach, workplace wellness consultant, and speaker. She helps people heal themselves with food. Through wellness workshops and courses, she helps companies create healthy, energetic teams.
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