As the holidays are quickly approaching,
more ugly sweater, secret santa, white elephant, and cocktail parties are filling up the calendars faster than can be kept track of. It’s difficult to imagine all these events and not think about how many cookies, cocktails, and heavy dishes will be at the tip of your fingers. The holidays are a time for celebration, but too much celebration can take a toll on the body, physically and mentally.
Being mindful about your choices (especially during the holiday season) is a Blue Zone concept that has increased well-being and longevity in individuals living in Blue Zone regions. This holiday season, prepare yourself for the various temptations right in front of you by practicing mindfulness and using these tips to help you navigate your next holiday party in the healthiest way possible.
Never arrive hungry
It may seem counterintuitive to eat before a party where tons of food will be available, but doing so will keep your blood sugar in check and stop you from reaching for one too many cookies or chips. A common mistake people make is not eating all day, knowing there will be unhealthy temptations at the event. However, arriving overly hungry will lead to poor food choices, usually high in carbs and sugar (what your body tends to crave when blood sugar is low), and often times you’ll end up far exceeding the amount you intended to eat.
Nutritionist, Kelly Leveque suggests consuming foods high in protein and healthy fats to help you feel satiated and prevent reaching for the entire tray of peppermint brownies. Before arriving at your next festivity, make sure you eat before you go, and be sure it’s something with protein and fiber to keep you full longer. This will help balance your blood sugar levels and ensure you are way less tempted to grab the first (or many) mini slider appetizers you set your eyes on.
During the holidays, it’s important to be mindful, especially as schedules start to fill up. Instead of arriving at a gathering overly stressed about resisting the less-healthy options and actually enjoying time with the people around you, practicing mindfulness can improve well-being, and behavioral regulation (such as making healthy choices).
Before your next event, take ten minutes to sit down and think about exactly what your health or wellness goals are and how you will maintain them throughout the evening. If you have worked really hard at staying away from sugar and don’t want ditch your progress when you’re offered eggnog or another sugary beverage, then tell yourself ahead of time that you will opt for a low sugar beverage like a vodka soda with lime, or a plain soda water if you don’t want alcohol. By setting these goals ahead of time, you’ll be able to make more mindful decisions and be actively present with others (instead of punishing yourself for neglecting your goals!). Which leads to the next point…
Don’t punish yourself for making less-healthy choices
If you decided to indulge in a less-healthy food option, don’t punish yourself for going off track! To resist being impolite or high maintenance, it’s easy to end up eating foods you intended to stay away from at holiday events. But, punishing yourself for eating these foods leads you to spend the entire evening frustrated or unable to actively engage with others.
If you want to satisfy your sweet tooth with that one holiday dessert your best friend only makes once a year, then eat it and thoroughly enjoy it! If you know ahead of time that you’re going to want to indulge, then resist feeling guilty by setting yourself up for success. Eat a balanced meal full of protein, fiber, and healthy fat so you feel satisfied from your meal and thoroughly enjoy your treat without overly indulging.
Bring a healthy appetizer
If the host requests a side dish, appetizer, or dessert from her guests, take full advantage of it! Often times, it’s easy to feel stuck when the only options you’re presented with are heavy and go completely against any dietary restrictions or wellness plans your were hoping to stick to. Instead of throwing out these goals at the onset of the holiday season, come prepared with a healthy option you know you’ll enjoy and will keep you full.
For example, if your attending a gathering with heavy meat eaters and trying to stick to a plant based diet (check out these tips for transitioning to a plant based diet), come prepared with a hearty salad. You can include greens, hearty vegetables like sweet potato and squash, a grain, and a protein like chickpeas or lentils that will keep your full and satisfied. Also, if you think you’ll be tempted by heavy desserts, bring a healthy-ish alternative that you and others will enjoy as well! This Brownie Bottom Mousse Pie tastes delicious and is perfect for sharing.
This holiday, you don’t need to ditch your health and wellness goals at the onset of “eggnog and peppermint brownie season.” Instead, keep your wellness goals on track by using these holiday party tips and tricks to ensure you thoroughly enjoy each seasonal festivity no matter what the circumstances.