Snow or no snow, December marks the official start of Christmas celebrations.
With it comes holiday parties, dinners out, family gatherings and of course food. There's no getting around it, we are just wired to include food with any and all celebrations. In fact, I challenge you to find any culture that celebrates an occasion where they don't have a special dish that goes with.
Memories are made around the table so it's important to be able to partake in these gatherings and enjoy them, guilt free and without sabotaging your health and weight goals. To that end, here are 12 tips I share with my clients to help lower the stress, increase enjoyment and avoid adding to your middle while navigating this season of food.
1. Plan your celebration meal. It's the holidays and you know there will be occasions to eat out and/or partake in things you wouldn't normally eat. The best way to keep those one-offs from gaining momentum and sabotaging all the good you've done so far, is to plan. Mark those celebration meals on your calendar. Planning not only gives you something to look forward to, you're more likely to stay focused and eat clean leading up to it.
2. Pick your favourite. Let’s face it, treats are everywhere! And swearing them all off will only make you want them all the more. But instead of just giving up and mindlessly munching and sampling through the entire season, be discerning. Next time you’re at a holiday dinner or party and surrounded by foods you know could sabotage you, pick your favourite and eat it guilt free. Studies show that when you have something you've really been looking forward to, you're satisfied with a smaller portion and avoid the guilt that comes with the mindless munching.
3. Don’t starve yourself. Skipping lunch, or not eating for an entire day in order to “save up” those calories in the hope of balancing them later, actually works in reverse, causing your body to store fat.
4. Never arrive hungry. Having a snack with protein and healthy fat before heading out means you'll arrive with stable blood sugar and balanced hormones. Which means you'll be able to choose what you eat rather than wondering how you ended up mindlessly eating an entire bowl of Ruffles by yourself.
5. Offer to bring a dish. Bringing one of your favourites to share not only helps the host, it will ensure that no matter what is served, you'll always have something you'll feel good about eating and that works with your health and weight goals.
6. Every three hours is another opportunity to do it better. We all know that during the holidays treats and celebration meals are not an "if", they're a “when”. Food fuels your body, but it also fuels your soul and we need both. So when you do indulge in those soul-filling foods, remember that in just three hours, it's an opportunity to choose cleaner options and fuel your body.
7. Stay off the scale. Anytime soul-filling foods and celebration meals are involved, know that if you step on the scale it will show an increase. Also know that it's not real weight, it's bloat and inflated weight caused by excess salt, sugar, gluten, etc. Clean eating and lots of water and it will disappear in about three to four days.
8. Pack snacks. As you're out and about shopping, etc, losing track of time is just a thing. Having snacks with protein in your car, backpack or purse means you can keep your body fuelled, blood sugar stable and avoid the urge to grab fast/processed foods while you're out.
9. Drink more water. Water flushes out waste, toxins and supports all your body's organs and systems. It also helps flush out bloat faster from extra salt, sugar and alcohol.
10. Pair alcohol with food. Having alcohol with, or after a meal that includes clean protein and good fat helps to minimize the blood sugar spike and subsequent fat storage caused by alcohol. If you know there will be a drink before dinner, have a protein-rich snack before you arrive.
11. Get outside and move. This is especially helpful about 20 minutes following a meal where you may have over indulged just a bit. The movement gets the blood flowing and works to help keep blood sugar stable.
12. Eat the cookie. Christmas comes once a year. And it's really only one meal. Focusing your time on avoiding foods only causes disordered eating and a poor relationship with food. If there's treat you love to enjoy at Christmas, have it, savour it, and do it guilt free.
For more information on how to use food to create hormonal balance and stabilize blood sugar, watch Tania's free video here.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.