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Healthy eating tips to help get you through the holidays
Sound familiar? You have been doing great eating healthy all week but you have that holiday party to go to today. Yikes. You feel defeated before you even go because you know how hard it is to keep away from all of the tempting foods, treats, and alcohol that will be there. I know how it goes, because I have been there. I’ve given up trying before getting there because I know how weak my willpower is in the moment. Add on all of the peer pressure from everyone else there, saying things like, Oh, you have got to try _____! It is so good.”, “Why aren’t you eating _____?”, “Are you on a diet or something? (in a mocking condescending way)”, the comments and questions go on… and I’m toast.
I used to fall under the pressure but now, after years of establishing what works and doesn’t, I can successfully go to a holiday party and leave still feeling amazing knowing that I’ve won! In general, you’ll probably be able to find veggies, fruit and/or meat trays at a gathering, so you should be able to incorporate your healthy lifestyle whether that means counting calories, Whole30, Weight Watchers, Paleo, Keto, etc. I’ve also complied my top healthy eating tips that I use whenever getting together with friends and family.
Here are my top eight tips for staying on top of your health goals at a holiday party:
1. Don’t show up right on time or stay till the end. That is when grazing gets dangerous.
We all know the saying, “fashionably late”. Well, there is a lot of merit to it when trying to avoid unhealthy eating pitfalls. There is no award for getting there on time and nibbling to kill time while others show up. Show up a little late but before any “activities”, such as games or white elephant gift exhanges, start. Activities can still keep you engaged in the party without having to eat or drink. They also keep everyone else occupied so that they aren’t focused on what you are or are not doing. If there aren’t any activities planned, stay out of the room with the food. Intentionally seat yourself somewhere so that it’s more uncomfortable to make it that way.
You also want to time it so that you aren’t the last person to leave the party. Practice what you are going to say before you get there. People may ask why you are leaving early. Saying, “I can’t stay here and keep eating” may hurt people’s feelings or make them feel as if you are judging them so having an answer prepared will help you successfully get out of there and still on everyone’s nice list.
2. Don’t go starving.
My biggest setbacks are when I’m starving. I have a difficult time controlling myself around food when I am super hungry. Also, with a palate that likes almost any kind of food, I can devour anything in front of me and, in the moment, not care if it is a good food choice or not. I have learned that this is not a good place for me to be whether it is a holiday party or not. On days that I can plan ahead, I pack a green salad with veggies with me to eat before I leave for the party. This could be eaten before a lunch or dinner party. Either way, I am set!
I also have snacks on my desk at work, such as nuts, almond butter, Sarvaa Superfood Elixirs, and Chomps. I go for snacks that typically don’t need to be refrigerated and have a long shelf life. That way there is no stress for me to eat them quickly before they go bad, but also that if I need to, can carry them in my purse. Chomps is my favorite snack to carry in my purse. They are super lightweight, take up hardly any room, and won’t go bad if I’m carrying them around for a few days.
I love Sarvaa Superfood Elixirs because they are chocolaty and full of superfoods (just as the name says haha). I’ll mix a spoonful of elixir with a spoon of almond butter and I just made a very filling snack to get me through any hunger pain.
3. Load up your plate with salad greens, even if that means bringing your own
At first, this may seem weird…but bare with me for a second. There are always so many yummy foods at holiday parties and you usually want to try a little bit of everything. If a green salad isn’t going to be on the menu, bring one if you can or bring a small container to throw your food selection over. I also find with the foods at the party, I don’t always need a salad dressing to put over the salad.
4. Bring your own water
Say there is a get-together and the meal is more casual so no one is obligated to eat while there. Bringing my own water keeps me out of the food area and maybe going for a different beverage – both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. I have my own beverage to sip in a different room so that I don’t have a moment of weakness and splurge on the delicious food they have.
5. Make and bring a dessert that you feel good about eating so you don’t have to deprive yourself
I’m a big fan of dessert but a bigger fan of dessert hacks. Unfortunately, they can be hard to find at a holiday party so I like bringing my own. Sometimes I get made fun of but I let it roll off of me because, at the end of the day, I got to eat dessert with everyone else, not slip and eat something unhealthy, and still feel like I didn’t miss out on anything.
Dessert ideas that we love:
6. Offer to throw the party yourself
This can be difficult to do and you certainly can’t throw every holiday party for the season but if you get the opportunity, this can be a great way for you to stay in control of what is on the menu to eat. You can set the core of what is offered and others can still bring their sides but at least you know there is a complete meal that keeps you inline with your lifestyle.
7. Go for walks
Feeling uncomfortably stuffed? Are the kids being wild and loud? Tired of making small talk? Get outside and go for a walk. We started doing this as a family after eating a big meal and now it is something we all look forward to doing. We still go for one even if It is cold outside in the winter, we just bundle up.
8. Write down what your plan is for the day and the party
It is proven that if you write down a plan for yourself, you are more likely to follow through with it. Make a plan for the day and for the event. Here are some idea starters:
- Are you going to avoid alcohol? How are you going to do it? What are you going to say if people ask you if you want a drink? I keep my answer short and sweet, “I’m not drinking right now.” If they ask for more, I say things like, “I haven’t been feeling well lately and so trying to keep my immune system strong.” Check out our Small Steps Planner for more tips and ideas for writing down your plan and sticking to it.
- Do you only want to put meat, greens, and raw vegetables on your plate? Awesome! What are you going to say if people ask you why you aren’t eating more? I like saying things like, “I am so stuffed from my mid-day snack still” or “I was so hungry a couple of hours ago, I had to eat a snack or I was going to be hangry when I got here.”
- Are you going to show up late and leave early? What is your reason? If it’s during the work day, I always can leverage meetings that held me up. If it is an evening party, I had to go home after work and let the dogs out, my son was moving like molasses, or my more recent favorite is not giving a reason at all and just saying, “Sorry I’m late.” and leave it at that. For leaving early, I’m exhausted and can’t stay up (which is often how I really feel), I’m double booked and have to stop by another party, I have to get home to take care of my pets (if you already didn’t use going home to take care of your pets for showing up late, that would be funny if you did).
Your biggest goal with your plan is to make it obtainable for you, have an answer already in mind for when people ask you questions about what you are or are not eating. The most important thing: don’t beat yourself up if you venture off of it, tomorrow is a new day.