The holidays are a time to celebrate with family and loved ones; a time to put work, deadlines, and other commitments and responsibilities on hold to reflect on what it is for which we’re grateful. Soak in every opportunity to re-connect, rejuvenate, and re-fill your cup! Oftentimes, the messages we hear about ‘treating ourselves’ revolve somewhere around over-indulgence, the concept that if a little is good, more must be better. Or, if you’re like my family, taking advantage of a magical thing that happens where calories no longer exist during the holidays. Gosh, I wish this were true. But, there have been years where that end-of-day food comatose state begs to differ.
Food as Fuel
I want to introduce a different idea of treating yourself. Our bodies and minds work hard for us all day long. Why not treat them with food to refuel? Just as any engine needs good quality gasoline to run, likewise, our bodies need good quality nutrition to function to the best of their ability. Now don’t get me wrong, sweets are the joy of life! But, a little can go a long way.
Consider some of these suggestions to treat yourself this holiday season without feeling like you have to also bring along your stretchy pants.
Snack like a pro!
If you know you’ll be going into an environment with a lot of temptation, snack on something beforehand. It’s harder to make good choices on an empty stomach. I recommend a high-protein snack to settle your stomach.
Bring a healthy side.
If I asked you to think of what vegetable is most often served with Thanksgiving dinner, I’d bet most people think of the green bean casserole. Nothing wrong with green bean casserole, but there are so many more veggies that often get forgotten. Recently, one of my favorites to include has been either roasted brussels sprouts or roasted asparagus with dried cranberries. The bright green and red combo are very festive, not to mention tasty!
Balance is key.
Before heading straight to dessert, fill your plate with protein, vegetables, and whole grains. There is certainly a place for sweets, but if that’s where we start off, the nutrient-dense foods like whole grains and leafy greens aren’t as appealing.
If seeing your favorite pie, custard, or crumble that grandma brought makes your heart just a little happier, make room for it. That may mean making the main course lighter on the carbohydrates (eg mashed potatoes, corn, rolls, etc) and heavier on the protein and non-starchy veggies.
Guilt-free, yes please!
There is room at the table for every food and food group. However, we don’t want to make any room for guilt. It really comes down to choice. If you happen to over-do it on the sweets, be kind to yourself and give yourself grace. The holidays only come around so often. Get to know yourself well, know your limits, know your temptations, plan ahead, and keep balance in mind… this is a recipe for success!
Reach out to your provider or nutritionist if you have more questions.