My Tips & Tricks For Staying Healthy & On Track (But Also Enjoying & Finding Balance) During The Holidays!
HI MY LOVES!
With the Jewish holidays rolling around, I got so many messages from you munchkins about how to stay on track, keep in line with healthy eating & not go overboard.
Obviously, holidays & celebrations mean family, friends, fun, late nights & LOTS & LOTS OF FOOD! It can be hard to resist temptation & not fall off track when you’re surrounded by all of that, so I’m going to give you guys some of my tips & tricks on how you can find the balance between staying on track but also not letting it get to your head to the point where you fail to enjoy the moment
1.BE CAREFUL WITH THE BREAD
Personally, I think at any holiday dinner, it is really easy to load up on challah bread before the main meal is even served. Challah bread is made from white refined flour (& not whole or sprouted grains), which is a type of carbohydrate that gets absorbed and digested really quickly by our bodies, is processed & contains tons of sugar & very little fibre, therefore, it won’t keep you full! It’s basically empty calories & acts as temporary fix. It gives you energy for the moment but then the sugar craving hits & you’re hungry again (READ MY FULL POST ABOUT ALL THINGS GOOD & BAD CARBS HERE!)
SO WHAT TO DO? I know it’s hard because let’s be honest, challah bread is like the centre of any Jewish holiday table, but my advice would be to eat it in moderation. Keep in mind that a slice of challah bread is the equivalent of probably about 2-3 slices of thin white sliced bread. I’m not here telling you not to eat challah bread at all, BUT I do recommend limiting your consumption & then compensation with other healthy bread alternatives, such as sprouted grains, crackers, crisp bread or rice cakes. Keep in mind that if you over indulge on the bread, you won’t be hungry (or won’t feel like) indulging when the actual main meal is served (& that really sucks, especially if it’s something that you don’t get to eat very often!).
2.CHOOSE ONE THING YOU WANT TO LET YOURSELF INDULGE IN
Since a variety of side & main dishes will be served, choose one thing that you really want to let yourself indulge in, a food that you don’t get to eat often or something that is specially made for the holidays. Obviously, do this in moderation (Don’t eat half the serving plate). BUT, let yourself indulge & don’t let it get to your head. DOn’t question how much you will gain from it, how bloated it will make you feel or how many calories are in it.
You have to find a balance, but also have the ability not to be too preoccupied with it. If you are, it will actually turn you off from the food (& from eating in general) & you won’t actually get to enjoy what you are eating. KEEP YOUR GOALS IN MIND (whatever it is you’ve been doing, whatever healthy changes you have made) & don’t let yourself fall out of whack because that will help keep you accountable. BUT, by the same token, DON’T DEPRIVE & STARVE YOURSELF. If you do that, ultimately, cravings will hit & you may find yourself in a situation where you end up binging. (I am a firm believer in feeding your body’s cravings when they hit – Read my full post about that HERE). Don’t focus on deprivation. Find balance. That one treat & indulgence is NOT going to ruin all your progress, BUT don’t let that open the door to indulging in 5 or 10 things! BE MINDFUL. BE CAREFUL. BUT ENJOY & EAT WHAT YOU LOVE!
3.GO FOR THE HEALTHIER APPETIZERS
If you know you’re going to be at a dinner where a lot of appetizers will be served first and they contain lots of flour, sugar & are very starchy, try to start your eating for the night with healthier choices. Go for the veggie or soup appetizers & the lean protein options. Don’t go for the starchy & fried stuff because those won’t fill you up, contain almost no nutrients & will ultimately lead you to having the cravings for the same unhealthy foods (for the same reasons listed above regarding the “bad carbs”). This will allow you to keep your appetite for the main dish & not feel crappy or have energy slumps or sugar cravings when the good stuff comes out!
4.DON’T FOCUS ON THE FOOD
Don’t make your holiday only about the meal or the food. Basically, you can’t go to a dinner with the mentality of “All that matters is the food & how much I eat”. Try to cherish the moments spent with family. A lot of us don’t get to spend so much time with our families because we have such busy lives. We don’t often get to eat dinner around a table without a care in the world, without work on our minds, so use the holidays as an opportunity to do that. Lose the preoccupation with the food & ENJOY IT.
5.GO FOR THE HEALTHIER SIDE DISHES
Let’s say you decide that you will be letting yourself indulge on lamb, brisket or roast, try to stick to the healthier side dish options. If there’s white rice & you know it will be filled with sugar or butter but there’s also baked, cooked, sautéed or roasted veggies, go for the veggies OR, serve yourself half a portion of rice & compensate/complement the portion with MORE VEGGIES. This will still allow you to indulge a bit in the rice & not feel deprived, but you will also prevent yourself from being in a situation where you feel like you overdid it.
6.PUT THINGS INTO PERSPECTIVE, ENJOY, FIND BALANCE & DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP
Put things into perspective. Yes, you should aim to make healthier choices, but also aim to find about balance and enjoyment. Don’t let yourself be down & don’t beat yourself up, if you do happen to really indulge, BIG FREAKING DEAL. Even on the strictest of diets, a lot of people will have cheat days/cheat meals (I hate the word “cheat”, but you guys know what I mean!). Don’t let guilt eat at you or consume you. Guilt is toxic and can be very damaging to the mind. So, if you did indulge, savour it, look at it positively.
Did you enjoy the food? your time with your family & friends while eating the food? If you can answer yes to those questions, then it was worth it. And like I always say, it’s about getting back into your routine after & not letting yourself think you are less worthy because you slipped up ONCE OR TWICE! Getting back into your routine will happen naturally if you’ve been consistent and in a routine for a long time. Basically, if it has become part of your life, it will happen naturally. But, you can’t let yourself feel guilty, ashamed or beat yourself up. Get back into your routine & everything else will fall into place.
This applies in everyday life & not only on the holidays. Eat slow. enjoy, savour the food & savour the moment. Don’t just scarf everything down. Doing that will allow your body to recognize when it’s full. This ties into the concept of intuitive eating. Sometimes we eat so quickly that we don’t give our bodies or minds the chance to recognize or realize that we’re not hungry or in the mood for those foods anymore & we just eat them because they are in front of us & it’s easy!
The holidays is actually a great opportunity to develop the ability to eat intuitively. You’re surrounded by people, opportunities to have conversation & to enjoy the moment. This is why it’s important & almost easier not to just focus on the food. Food should be the secondary aspect & shouldn’t be the main”event”. If you let yourself enjoy the moment, you will end up eating the optimal amount that your body needs for fuel. You will not overeat or under-eat because you won’t be so focalized on the food & what it may or may not do to your body.
8.BE CAREFUL WITH THE ALCOHOL
Alcohol fills you up, is packed with sugar & is not very nutritious! Be careful with what you decide to drink & if you are going to drink, try to go for the lower sugar alternatives & do it in moderation!
9.DRINK A LOT OF WATER – HYDRATION!
Don’t sip on the Diet Coke, or juice, that will leave you bloated & that’s filled with artificial sweeteners & sugar. Staying hydrated is crucial in all walks of life but more so, when you are eating foods that you don’t usually eat as this will help flush out the toxins!
10.EAT A LEAN PROTEIN/HEALTHY FAT SNACK BEFORE GOING TO YOUR DINNER
Don’t starve yourself all day because you know you have a big dinner at night. Keep in line with your routine & your eating habits. Eat a good, nutritious, wholesome breakfast & lunch & HAVE A SNACK BEFORE YOUR DINNER. Since holiday dinners are later than usual, what I suggest is eating a protein-packed/healthy-fat snack:
-to help hold you off until dinner is served;
-to prevent yourself from feeling starving & HANGRY; &
-to be able to pace yourself when you’re at the dinner table & food is served & to prevent overeating. If you are STARVING, you won’t be able to eat intuitively.
Some suggestions: nut butter with fruit, a healthy protein bar, some turkey breast.
Again, if you do slip up, and you do indulge (even a little too much), let yourself be.
Don’t beat yourself up.
Don’t let the guilt eat at you.
Jump right back into your routine the next day and everything will fall into place.
A few nights of eating well & indulging & having fun with family, which is something we don’t often get to do, is not going to kill you.
And if anything, it will make you appreciate jumping back into your routine the day after, because you will acknowledge that you enjoyed but that now it’s time to get back into your healthy lifestyle!
Just know that those two nights won’t affect you in the grand scheme of things!
ENJOY FAMILY. FOOD. LIFE. FRIENDS. MOMENTS. & HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
I LOVE YOU ALL!