Every special occasion revolves around food. We can’t avoid it. Food is our universal language. It connects us. The reason holidays are so special is because they only happen once a year. This means that you should absolutely be able enjoy yourself even if that means indulging in your favorite cookies or comfort foods. I believe that you can enjoy and still make your health a priority!
As a new mom, I believe that food is more important than ever and as parents we must be mindful of what we eat and how we show up. Whether you know it or not, you are your child’s biggest influencer.
Kids are smart and they observe everything. They watch what you do, become curious, and mimic your behavior. Kids have no idea that broccoli is gross until their friends tell them it is. It’s the people around us that influence us the most; which is why our job as parents goes beyond just diapers and bath time.
What if you told your kids that broccoli made them run fast and they saw you eating it? Or if they knew that fresh fruit (not in a pouch or juice form) gave them big muscles? What if you made taking a spoonful of cod liver oil fun especially since it directly affects your mood and memory? Try involving your kids in the cooking process or let them pick out healthy items at the grocery store! Here are some simple tips for making healthy eating a family affair while preventing the dreaded holiday weight gain. It’s time to stop sabotaging your health and time to start living your best life—now!
Plan Ahead for the Holiday
Weight gain happens when you overdo. Eating your favorite Christmas cookies are not the culprit of your weight gain nor is eating that stuffing on Thanksgiving. It’s the overindulging that is the real problem and where guilt comes from. Planning ahead for special occasions truly allows you to make the most of your experience—guilt free. Be mindful of your weeks leading up to that special occasion. Take time to eat healthy, move daily, and sleep well.
Be mindful of how much and how often you indulge. Use a plate as your guide when building your meal around the holidays. Limit mindless snacking or “picking” and avoid going back for seconds. Build a balanced plate, savor each bite, and be present. If you go for that cookie, own it! Make it count and don’t look back. Believe it or not, if you are stressed before, during or after you eat it, that can interfere with your body’s ability to digest.
Don’t Give Up, Make Everything Better
It’s unrealistic to give up the things you love just like it’s unrealistic to follow a diet that has you giving up carbs or has you juicing celery every day. The best thing you can do for weight loss or to prevent weight gain is to upgrade the quality of your food and ingredients.
The simplest way to explain this is that when you put the right ingredients in your body, your body knows what to do. Switch from a peanut butter that has five ingredients to a peanut butter that has one. Find a potato chip that has three ingredients versus 92. Make healthier substitutions like Greek yogurt in place of sour cream, cacao nibs instead of chocolate chips, virgin coconut oil in place of butter, avocado oil mayo versus Miracle Whip, organic whipping cream versus the trans-fat loaded varieties you find in the freezer section. When you are making your favorite holiday dishes, use organic white whole wheat flour, organic cane sugar, organic eggs, and other high-quality ingredients. Focus on not giving things up, but making things better. Better is where the magic happens.
Follow the 80/20 Rule
This truly is the secret to living healthy without making sacrifices. 80% of the time, focus on eating healthy foods, cooking more meals at home, and upgrading to better quality ingredients. 20% of the time, don’t worry about it and indulge in the things you love. This gives you four meals out of the week that you can splurge without giving up your health.
Just be mindful about how much and how often you indulge and don’t waste your 20% on something that’s not worth it. If you are going out for burgers, find the best burger joint in town. If you are having pastries for breakfast, make them worth it. What I love most about this rule is, it allows you to pivot when you need to and give in for the sake of others. If you go to your inlaws for the holidays and they offer you their famous homemade cheesecake, think about the relationship before saying no. Food is love, it’s connection, and we have to think about the bigger picture when it comes to food. If you plan ahead for a situation where you may indulge, indulging won’t hurt you at all—in fact, it will make the experience so much better.
Have fun this holiday. Practice self-care. Laugh at yourself. Be grateful for the things you have—even the little things. Did you know it’s impossible to be unhappy and grateful at the same time? Where your thoughts go, energy flows.
“The opposite of depression is fun.”
—Guest Post by Kristen Brogan
Kristen Brogan is an International Keynote/Virtual Speaker, Yoga Instructor, Personal Trainer, Executive Superfood Chef, Best-Selling Author of Target To Table: Healthy & Delicious Meals One Superfood At A Time, and the Registered Dietitian at On Target Living where she helps organizations make health a business strategy.