How to Navigate the Holidays Without Sabotaging Your Health Or Your Weight

This article was published as my Holistic Outlook Column in The Times Herald Record.

How did it happen? The year flew by and here we are, about to head into the annual flurry of celebrations. I am always dismayed at how many people believe holiday weight gain is inevitable. Celebrating doesn’t have to mean overdoing it.

Here are 10  strategies to help avoid an unhealthy downside this holiday season.

The Big Picture

  • Remember what it’s really all about. Food and drink accompany celebration, but don’t have to be your focus. Focus on the people and the purpose, not the goodies.
  • Set limits before you celebrate. Have a strategy in place so you don’t get overwhelmed and throw away your good intentions in the midst of festivities. Fail to plan, plan to fail!
  • Examine assumptions. Do you believe you MUST drink in order to have a good time? Would you be willing to test that theory? If not, you may have a problem. I stopped drinking for several years because I realized I was using alcohol to handle anxiety. I worked on being more comfortable with myself, then lifted my “personal prohibition”. It’s an interesting experiment; try it.
  • Remember my “instant reset”: Innhale and exhale four times slowly and deeply through your nose. Voila! Instant calm and lower stress hormones.

Party Time Strategies

Here are some tips to minimize the possibility of weight gain:

  • If you’re drinking, have wine instead of mixed drinks, and a club soda or water after each drink. This helps hydration (alcohol dehydrates, part of why you don’t feel good after) and slows down consumption.
  • Remember the more you drink, the harder it is to control your eating, not only because you lose inhibitions but because biochemically, alcohol increases cravings for sugars (including more alcohol) and refined carbohydrates.
  • Choose your carb. Rather than having everything, look at all your options, and decide where you most want to indulge: Crackers or chips? Breads? Alcohol? Mashed potatoes? Dessert? Each of these is a carbohydrate metabolised as sugar, so pick and choose.
  • Taste, don’t gobble. Enjoy. Savor. Relish. Nibble. Far from suggesting you give up culinary pleasures, I’m asking you to focus on it. Food is meant to be pleasurable, but we aren’t even conscious of what we put in our mouths. Slow down and truly taste your food; you will indubitably eat less.
  • If you have food sensitivities, be prepared. If possible, check ahead of time and ask for whatever consideration you need. If not, have emergency rations to tide you over.
  • Bring dessert. That way you won’t be tempted to go way off track. My website is full of wondeful healthy dessert and treat recipes you can share, and your friends will be so busy enjoying, they’ll never even know they’re eating something healthy. But you will maintain virtue in the face of temptation!

Raspberry Chocolates

These only take a few minutes to prepare and about 20 minutes to set in the freezer, so they’re great for the last minute, plus they are SOOOO good! If you have candy molds, or an ice cube tray with special shapes, they will be even prettier, but any ice cube tray works just fine.

1/3 cup almond butter

1/2 cup coconut oil or pastured butter (I like KerryGold)

1/2 cup raw cacao powder

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

2 Tablespoons xylitol or monkfruit powder

1/2 cup raspberries, fresh or frozen

Mix together almond butter, fat, salt, sweetener, and cacao over very low heat, or in a double boiler. Stir to melt and blend, and remove from heat. Fill each opening of an empty ice tray just half way. Add 2 raspberries to each (or try a cherries!). Cover with the remaining mixture. Put in the freezer to set – it doesn’t take long. Pop them out, share and enjoy!
These are very rich, so I’m guessing you won’t eat the whole batch, but even if you do, you are eating healthy, nutritious FOOD!  Store in the fridge or freezer.

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