No one wants to spend the holiday season deprived of its delicious abundance. Some of the best foods make their appearance this time of year. (I’m looking at you, egg nog!) But no one wants to wake up on the first day of the new year feeling like you blew through party season and can’t remember a thing you ate or drank. Here are some tips to have your most mindful holiday season yet.
How To Have a Mindful Holiday
- “Eat before the holiday party”
- “Skip the eggnog”
- “The 50 calorie skinny cocktail is the lightest”
Conventional diet advice means you’re missing out on the most wonderful time of the year.
And you’re probably not listening to your internal cravings and desires. I don’t know about you, but I don’t care for skinny cocktails…
There is so much chatter about ways to make your holiday season healthier. Apparently the average Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner is 7,000 calories? I’m not sure I believe that. One dinner will not make you gain 5 pounds. 365 dinners will. So rather than stressing out about how you’re going to say no to Aunt Erma’s triple chocolate cake on Christmas, spend your mental energy having faith in the Squiggly Line Effect.
Here are a few tips that keep me mindful in December
Don’t go starving but don’t go full.
When I eat before the holiday party I end up having two dinners, which is even more food than if I’d just eaten at the party alone! I used to have a big salad before just to ensure that I got vegetables with my dinner in the event that the party had no crudités. But I have decided that having a salad for lunch and no vegetables for dinner is perfectly healthy a few times a year (or month…). On days when I have a big night ahead, I try to have a normal lunch and an afternoon snack if I’m getting really hungry so that by the time the party or Christmas dinner arrives I’m hungry but not famished. Hunger IS the best sauce you know!
Add in some of your healthy favorites
I always say it’s easier to add than subtract. So rather than thinking about deprivation, try adding some healthy favorites just to help you feel good. A crunchy, refreshing apple for a snack. A smoothie for breakfast. A bowl of berries with Greek yogurt. A kale caesar. I don’t know about you, but when all of my meals for the day are rich ones I just don’t feel great at bedtime. Mix it up with your favorite go-to healthy choices and the rich dinners that are common this time of year.
Have whatever you want most and sip it s l o w l y
Everyone knows eggnog is one of the most calorie dense drinks on the planet. But what would Christmas be without it? I actually find the lighter versions of nog to be just as delicious, but make sure the ingredient list is still recognizable. You don’t want to trade calories for chemicals. So with eggnog or your favorite dessert or the special Christmas morning stuffed french toast – have it, enjoy it, and savor it slowly. It’s probably the cheer-filled setting and ambiance that makes it taste extra delicious anyways.
Drink what you will savor
Maybe a light beer is less calories than a White Russian, but if you have 5 of them because they go down like water you’re not saving very much! Drink what you want most and what you will savor. My drink of choice – red wine divided into a few small pours. Some before and some with dinner. Also note that too much food + too much alcohol is not a great mix, so if I had to pick one I’d go with too much food. A food hangover is less painful than a wine one…!
Take Time to Pause
The holidays can be a stressful time, and it’s easy to get caught up in all the events and not pause to take some deep breaths and live in the present moment. Mental health is one of the pillars of overall health, and if you’re starting to feel off balance, you won’t enjoy the meaning of the season in its full spirit. Take some time for a few short guided meditations, go for walks outside and breathe in the winter air (just be sure to bundle up!) and considering jotting a few thoughts in a gratitude journal each morning or evening.
The Donne family Christmas morning pizza!
My manta for a mindful holiday season is to focus on how I feel
The bottom line for me, and perhaps most importantly, is to focus on how you feel. Sort of like how intuitive eating will even itself out over time, if you focus on how you feel, you aren’t bound to eat so many calories that you gain permanent pounds. Enjoy the evening just enough so that you sleep well that night and wake up refreshed in the morning. The older I get, the easier it is for me to know when I hit that point. Your body will tell you when the holiday is over.