With one holiday come and gone, this time of year can be a struggle to keep up healthy eating habits. Each year, on the days leading up to the winter holidays, so many of us utter the words “not this year” in a response to the dreaded holiday weight gain. As someone who has never been “naturally thin,” (and went to Weight Watchers for the first time in the seventh grade) the time between Thanksgiving and New Years has always been a source of anxiety for me. Over the years, I have come up with a few strategies to keep in my holiday toolbox. My holiday wish for you is that you’re able to enjoy Christmas and the weeks that follow with a sense of lightness, both emotional and physical, and without a sense of deprivation!
1. Get moving
I like to start the day with some movement - whether it’s running a holiday 5K with someone special or unrolling your yoga mat for a short home practice, putting some purposeful movement into your day will help to keep you grounded. Most of us are much less likely to overeat if we’ve done some sort of exercise. (And if you do overindulge, you’ll have already burned some calories anyway.)
2. Eat in the morning
Make sure to nourish your body with a light and healthy breakfast. For many years, I’d skip eating in the morning to save calories for later. For most people this just causes us to overindulge later since we’re starving by the time we get to dinner. Have a green smoothie or some overnight oats so that you’re giving yourself at least one nutritions and fiber rich meal.
3. Set yourself up for success
Prepare a dish that you know is a healthier alternative. You can make this lighter dish the focus of your meal and have a small sampling of all your other festive favorites. My secret is to make a savory, healthy soup. There’s something so satisfying about soup and there are so many wonderful seasonal options.
4. Give digestion a hand
Nurture your digestion by eating light to heavy and consider practicing food combining. Food combining is a practice that has helped so many of my clients avoid unpleasant bloating. Chose to eat carbs and veggies together or protein and veggies, but skip combining carbs and protein at one sitting. Then save a bit of whichever group you skipped for later. You’ll still get to sample everything, but organizing your food will help your digestive system work most effectively.
5. Mind over matter
Visualize how you’d like your meal to look. Picture exactly how much you want to eat, and when. If you have a clear picture in your mind of what you want to eat, you’re much less likely to overindulge.
Finally, enjoy everything you eat! Let go of any negative feelings about what you consume specific days that you’ve set aside to indulge. Each day gives us a fresh start and the ability to move forward. A couple of days of indulgence won’t ruin a daily mindful eating practice.
Do you have some strategies of your own to keep from overeating on these holidays? We’d like to hear! Start a conversation below!
Marietta McEvilly is a yoga instructor, nutrition consultant, Thai bodyworker and all around wellness expert living, learning and loving in New York City. She has traveled around the world to study with the foremost experts in her field and loves to share the knowledge she has gained with her students. Her classes are infused with deep knowledge of anatomy and alignment. Marietta consistently inspires her students and clients to take action both on and off the yoga mat, in the kitchen and in life.