Thoughtful Eating gets you Safely Through the Holidays

by Cathy Clements, Nutritionist & Life Coach, NASM CNC, CPT, FNS, WFS

I love this season! As a kid, this was the only time my mom baked a lot. We had birthday cakes, but holiday cookies and sweet breads were a once-a-year thing.

Now, I bake for my kids. I make cookies and sweet breads, but they don’t prefer the ones I remember and love. So I make a few different ones.

Is this you? When you think of the holidays, you immediately think of special foods that take you back? As adults, though, we seem to be constantly watching what we eat. There are smart ways to negotiate the holidays.

First, be kind to yourself. Enjoy the parties and gatherings with friends and family. These times in life are short and should be enjoyed and celebrated.

My holiday rule? If there are items I only see or make during this time of year, I allow myself to have some — whether main courses, sides or desserts.

But are your eyes too big? I think of wide-eyed children with gifts under the tree, this is not how to approach food. You can have the wide-eyed wonderment of a child, but don’t dive right in. Pause and evaluate everything in front of you.

Secondly, if you are going to a gathering and know there is going to be a lot of food, make sure you are eating normally during the day. Don’t fast and go to the gathering famished. This subconsciously gives you permission to overeat.

When you go to the gathering, look at all the food first. You may find there is nothing special, and as I say, “not worth the calories.” So I don’t eat them. But if you see something you think of as special for the holidays, allow yourself to have a piece. Eat slowly and enjoy it.

There are two things that can happen, you don’t like the way this one is made, so don’t finish it or you like it and eat the whole piece. Either way, there is a balance to what you are eating.

Thinking it through will allow you to give yourself grace and not gorge. You will feel better for not having overindulged, and you won’t feel like you were isolated and left out of the holiday fun.

Enjoy this season thoughtfully!