What’s the best thing about holiday gatherings? The food. What’s the worst thing about holiday gatherings? The food.
It can certainly put a huge smile on our faces to see festive tables adorned with some of our favorite holiday meals, decadent homemade desserts, and pretty much every high fat snack imaginable. However, the reality is that this same vision also scares a lot of us. This is especially true if you’re prone to holiday binges.
Holiday binging involves eating way more than you should, whether you’re physically hungry or not. Usually this winds up with you feeling stuffed, wondering why you don’t have more self-control this time of year. Sometimes it even means eating when no one is looking, almost as if we believe that calories consumed outside the sight of others don’t really exist.
Fortunately, there are some things you can do to stop binging at holiday gatherings, giving you the opportunity to enjoy the season physically as much as you do mentally and spiritually.
Don’t Show Up Hungry
Arrive at a holiday gathering starved and you will be drawn to the food table like steel to a magnet, making it harder to resist eating more than your fair (or at least intended) share. Therefore, eating a healthy high protein snack before you go is a great way to keep your hunger in check, making it easier to make better food choices. A few to consider include Greek yogurt with berries, a hard-boiled egg, or a handful of nuts. Snacks like these will help “take the edge off.”
Be Picky About Where You Sit
Believe it or not, where you decide to sit while you eat at the gathering may just have an impact on how much you eat as well as which foods you put on your plate to begin with. Based on the findings of one observational study, if you want to make better food choices, try to sit in an area that is well lit (you’ll make healthier food choices); not near the alcohol (alcohol tends to lower your food-related inhibitions); and away from distractions like a TV if your family tends to have a holiday show or game on during the gathering (likely increasing the odds that you’ll engage in mindless eating).
Give Yourself Permission to Enjoy Your Favorites
When you declare certain foods off limits, you almost become obsessed with them. Well, one way to lessen the power they have over you then is to give yourself permission to enjoy them. As suggested by College News when trying to help students avoid the freshman 15, give yourself a “treat day” the day of the gathering. You’ll likely find that once you’ve made it okay to eat your favorites, you’re less likely to do so without abandon.
Focus on a Different “F”
If your main focus at the gathering is food, then it’s time to put your efforts elsewhere by paying more attention to the other “f”s that matter—like friends and family. Instead of using the gathering as an excuse to eat things you normally wouldn’t, optimize your time by sharing stories and laughter with the people you care about most. Set out to learn one new thing about each of them and you’ll spend more time engaged in conversation than you will eating.
Do these four things and you’ll be able to enjoy some of your holiday favorites in moderation, providing you the best Christmas gifts of all: greater health and a smaller waist.
More info on our contributing writer:
Shelly Stinson is a Denver, Colo.-based freelance writer. From eating to exercising, she enjoys covering anything related to healthy living. You can find out more about Shelly by following her on Twitter @shellystins or http://www.twitter.com/shellystins
A BIG thank you to Shelly Stinson who contributed this article to WellnessWinz! Shelly has been my little Christmas miracle, showing up to help write excellent content during the busy holiday season. I wish I could stow her away in my stocking for safekeeping. 😉
Yours in health and wellness,