Whether your holiday craving is pumpkin pie, sugar cookies or butter-filled mashed potatoes, it's possible to master them so you don't ring in the New Year feeling unhealthy and unwell.
Here are some tips and tools you can use as to make conscious, healthy choices at your next holiday event.
1. Drink a lot of water throughout the day and at the event.
I know it seems simple, but water can really help you navigate your cravings. Dehydration causes false hunger, sleepiness, brain fog and sugar cravings. Plus, drinking water often has the effect of making you feel "clean" inside, so unhealthy choices at the dinner table aren't as appealing.
2. Watch the salt.
Too much salt can cause you to crave more sugar. The body seeks balance, so when you eat foods that are too salty, you end up craving sugary foods to counter.
3. Add more vegetables to your plate.
Piling up your plate with vegetables helps you balance proportions and makes meals feel lighter and easier to digest. Over-eating causes sugar cravings and will make it harder for you not to overdo it for dessert. A handy trick is to see if you can fill at least half your plate with vegetables so there isn't as much space for not-as-healthy food options.
4. Don't skip meals so you can eat more at dinner.
I know it's tempting to starve yourself all day in anticipation of parties or big meals at night, but that'll just lead to making unhealthy choices when you're ravenous at dinner. Instead, have a light breakfast with complex carbs in the morning and a balanced meal of vegetables, plant-based protein and fats for lunch. You'll be better able to balance the proportion of carbs once the holiday meal is in front of you, which tends to be the "killer" of all your good intentions.
5. Be mindful when you're eating.
It's easy to mindlessly grab a few candies here and a couple of crackers there. But before you know it, you've eaten enough for a full meal in the form of snacks! If you feel the need to snack, make sure you're snacking smarter: no grazing, think ahead and choose whole, real foods.
Also, always sit down to eat. Enjoy your meals more by chewing, tasting and looking at your food.
6. Be aware of your thoughts.
Our thoughts and beliefs have a big impact on the food choices we make because they make us feel better or worse about ourselves. This is especially true during the holidays, when there are triggers everywhere. To practice self-nourishment, acknowledge how you feel when you feel it. Notice if you're eating for reasons other than hunger, like being uncomfortable or anxious. Practice self-compassion by not judging yourself for how you feel. Being triggered is completely normal; it doesn't mean there's anything wrong with you.
7. Embrace yourself and what you need.
It's absolutely possible to take part in holiday celebrations and practice self-nourishment. It's a balancing act of healthy boundaries that come when you take loving care of yourself. You can say no with love if it comes from a place of taking care of yourself rather than rejecting what's in front of you. Food means love and sharing is a big part of holiday meals, so keep it simple and enjoy food by slowing down and pausing to enjoy.