I know what you might be thinking – Why is she talking about the holidays already? I just saw Christmas ornaments for sale in a store tonight, that’s why. The holidays are upon us. It used to be that the “holiday season” started on Thanksgiving and ended with New Year’s Day. A stroll through Target proves that that’s no longer the case. Christmas decorations line the aisles of some stores already, and Halloween has ballooned in its importance. Overindulging is synonymous with the holidays. We overindulge in our spending and with eating. Let’s get ahead of this, though. Today we will discuss how to get control of our eating so that we don’t have to undo the holiday damage for the first three months of 2020. You know you need this.
When I was a child (you can tell you are getting older when you start stories that way!), Halloween was about that one day. Now, bags and bags of glorious candy accost you at every turn. You can’t stop at Walgreen’s for a bridal shower card without seeing aisles of miniature Milky Ways, Snickers, and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (read: heaven). If you prefer other types of candy, our relationship will have to end here #sorrynotsorry. If you pause right now, you can conjure the smell of chocolate. Just me?
Halloween has become the gateway to holiday gluttony. Bags of miniature candy bars plague stores, but also our workplaces, schools, salons, and every other place so that businesses spread cheer. We tend to eat candy whenever we see it. Therefore, we might eat plenty of it before the actual holiday and during the holiday. You know as well as I do that you eat your child’s candy while trick or treating. I know this because I used to, too. One Snickers for my son, one Snickers for mama. That’s the law. The candy languishes for a few weeks at home after the ghostly day has passed, and before you know it, pow! Five pounds.
And then it’s Thanksgiving. Pretzel Jello, pumpkin pie, French silk pie, cookies, cake, banana pudding, you name it, I love it. Thanksgiving is about gorging ourselves on traditional foods, and of course, being with family. Notice which one I listed first. Thanksgiving extends to a four-day weekend with leftovers, celebrations with visiting family members, and the festivities of Black Friday. Pow! Five more pounds. You see where I’m going with this…The last quarter of the year can potentially be a free-for-all when it comes to food, especially sweets.
Our goal is to limit the damage. Here are the three best tips I have to help you navigate the holiday season and enjoy food guilt-free and without gaining a ton of weight.
How you eat – I preface this section with the fact that I am as much of a doctor as Doc McStuffins and Meredith Grey. The holiday “season” lasts for two months, beginning with Halloween. The actual holidays themselves, though, are finite days. How you eat the remaining days of the two months will play a huge role in to what degree you overeat during the specific days. Notice I said “to what degree.” People generally consume more food on the holidays, and that doesn’t have to change for you, but we want to limit the extent. How you eat during the other days will influence whether it takes you all of January to lose the holiday weight.
Specifically, and this is where the “I’m not a doctor” part comes in, you need to eat food that allows your blood sugar to remain stable. Kelly LeVeque, holistic nutritionist and author of Body Love, bases her “Fab Four” approach to eating on this premise. She doesn’t encourage people to count calories. Rather, her plan incorporates four types of food in every setting: fat, protein, greens, and fiber.
What this means for you (and me), is that if you adopt this as a lifestyle, you shouldn’t feel hungry between meals. Your body is satiated, and you will be less likely to scarf down miniature Halloween candy bars in the office treat jar. The combination of the four decreases the likelihood of craving chocolate on sight. You will feel more in control and therefore less susceptible to overeating, even if you do indulge in a bar. You will be more likely to limit it to one bar versus fifteen. This approach, or any other that allows for blood sugar stabilization, is imperative to adopt asap because it will allow you to quickly gain control of your eating.
When I start my day with a Fab Four smoothie (meaning, I incorporate the four tenets), I don’t get hungry again until lunch time. This was a huge switch for me because I used to have a snack at 10:30 am like clockwork. Now I don’t need to because my blood sugar is balanced for longer. As a former binger, I never would have thought I would “drink” my calories, but my smoothie is now my favorite caloric combo of the day, see my specific concoction HERE.
If you can regulate your eating now, you will be less likely to eat 756 mini candy bars leading up to Halloween, on Halloween, and the week following. You will then not have to spend all of November trying to undo the damage, only to be repeated at Thanksgiving. Are you starting to see how important it is stabilize your blood sugar?
Plan your meals – Nothing sounds less enticing than planning everything you will eat, right? But you must do it. Every night, jot down what you will eat the next day in a notebook or on your phone. The following day, cross off each item as you eat it. Why go to these lengths? By planning ahead of time, you are forcing yourself to think through your food choices and consequences. If you combine this with a balanced approach to eating, it will be easier for you to turn down unexpected food challenges on any given day.
At my high school, there are often pastries in our office kitchen or teacher’s workroom, and it’s usually somebody’s birthday. Around the holidays, there will be even more opportunities to chow down. Each department might throw its own holiday party and invite you. Your clients might bring you gift baskets full of your fave breakfast goodies. The mom group you participate in might have a potluck.
Anytime you encounter challenges, your self-care plan becomes essential. During the holidays, we quickly succumb to not just overeating, but overeating more frequently. This is the time to religiously stick to your plans. If you allow yourself a “cheat” or “exception” meal once a week, stick to it! Don’t suddenly give yourself three because of the aforementioned food surprises. Stick to your one exception meal so that you can enjoy it guilt-free.
Planned indulgences – I first read about this concept in Dr. Judith Beck’s The Beck Diet Solution. She encourages her clients to spoil themselves occasionally (like the idea of a cheat meal), but she calls it a “planned indulgence.” For example, I am writing this article on a Thursday night. All week I’ve loosely followed LeVeque’s Fab Four approach, and all week I’ve been looking forward to my planned indulgence at a Mexican restaurant with my besties tomorrow night.
Planning a weekly indulgence helps you say no more easily to daily challenges like I described earlier. If you plan on having a piece of cake at a family birthday party this weekend, then it’s easier to pass up the work donuts. For me, I didn’t gorge on pizza mid-week because I was saving my splurge for Mexican food. No fried ice cream for me – Day 368 no sugar!
The cumulative effect of planned indulgences, especially during the two-month holiday season, is that it prevents you from overeating as frequently as you normally would. Remember, our whole point is to enjoy ourselves without having to suffer for the subsequent months. Too, if you plan the indulgences, you can enjoy the meals guilt-free because you already sanctioned them. You aren’t “sneaking” food or disappointing yourself by going off plan. Interestingly, though, I tend to eat less during the planned indulgences than I typically did during spontaneous overeating. It’s all psychological.
Let’s talk sugar – You don’t necessarily have to remove sugar from your life completely. I chose to because I was addicted, and it was the right decision for me. If you are considering eliminating it from your diet, though, this is an excellent time. If you stop eating sugar NOW, as in, this week, your cravings will be gone by Halloween. I guarantee it. I can make this bold promise because this is exactly what I experienced this time last year. My cravings for Snickers had vanished by October 31st. You might still experience emotional cravings occasionally, but the physical ones disappear. Click HERE to receive “My tips & secrets to giving up sugar,” which includes a resource list of the 61 different names sugar is listed as on ingredient labels.
The holiday season is a wondrous time of year, but it can be punishing for our self-esteem. We often overeat with such frequency and intensity, that our negative self-talk goes into overdrive. It doesn’t have to be that way. Just because that is the story of your past holidays, doesn’t mean this year must be the same. There are less than 100 days left in this decade. Enjoy the holidays, but end the year in a way that supports the best version of yourself.
Did today’s article resonate? Do you usually feel powerless to holiday eating? How will you approach it this year? Share your story below!
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