The festive season spells out great food and indulgence. However, it does not have to translate into health problems and guilt. While “moderation is the key” should be the mantra for all, there are several other ways to ensure that you can strike the perfect balance between nourishment and treats.
This blog serves as your guide to decoding mindful eating even when there are countless temptations fueled by festive joy. Just follow these simple steps and you will be on your way to a wholesome festive season right up to December!
The three-step secret to your festive eating success
1. Nurturing your will power
2. Setting your goals
3. Sticking to the plan
Now, let us dive deep into each of these steps to understand the healthy-eating code particular to the festive season.
Step 1: Nurturing your will power
There are several ways to ensure that you stay focused and away from overindulging at dinners and gatherings. To begin with, it is vital to listen to your body. What is it that keeps you on the path and what makes it difficult to remain mindful? Once you are able to answer these questions, it will become easier to strengthen your will power.
Here are a few ideas to try:
- Stay hydrated. More often than not, intense craving for specific unhealthy foods amplifies due to dehydration. Our minds cannot distinguish between thirst and hunger especially when there are extravagant buffets or an overactive home kitchen as we see during the last few months of the year.
- Do NOT skip meals. You may think skipping meals can help compensate when you have overeaten but it does not work that way. Instead, it may confuse and slow down your metabolism, leading you to intake unhealthy portion sizes at your next meal.
- Reward yourself for your intentions. Once you motivate yourself with a reward for good behavior, the inner child in you is more likely to stick to the plan. Make sure that these rewards are not food-related. As an example, it could be something like “If you eat mindfully for five days, you can buy the luxury sports gear you have been eyeing for weeks.”
Step 2: Setting your goals
Setting achievable goals is essential for your healthy eating resolution to succeed. Therefore, you should be as realistic as possible. For example, if you think you can follow a new diet when everyone around you is enjoying your favorite festive preparations, you are headed towards disappointment. None of us is as strong-willed as we like to think.
Instead, adopt sustainable habits that allow you the best of both worlds.
- Plan your meals. Never go to a party on an empty stomach. If you are expecting guests for dinner or you have accepted a lavish celebratory invitation, prepare your body by eating a small snack a few hours in advance. When at the event, follow the three rules below.
i. Take the tiniest portion of every item on the menu.
ii. Never go for second helpings.
iii. Once you have decided which item you like the most, allow yourself a little space and then, take a bit more of that.
- Be mindful. It is easy to toss caution and gravitate towards oily treats and sweetened delicacies. Nevertheless, being mindful your goals and keeping unhealthy indulgences to a minimum can go a long way. Smart eating can go a long way in preventing post-festive guilt
Here are a few bonus tips:
- If you can, avoid sweets altogether or have a bite or two for breakfast. You can keep dried figs and dates handy to treat yourself if you find compelled for a sugar boost.
i. Try to have a big delicious breakfast to keep cravings and hunger pangs to a minimum all day.
ii. Move around and avoid resting during the festive days. It will help absorb the food better and prevent bloating and other uncomfortable situations.
Step 3: Sticking to the plan
No matter what, do not forget the plan. It may happen that you slip away once or twice but let that not be a reason to forget discipline and start gorging like a hound. It is imperative that you forgive your food-related indiscretions and keep up the good work during the remaining festive season. It is alright if you binged at one party. Just do better next time instead of dwelling on it and spoiling your mood further.
The following always helps.
- Stick to your usual workout routine or may be make it more intense during the festivities.
- Eat a good helping of fruits and vegetables at least once during the day.
- At buffets and gatherings, patiently scan the available options. You will always find something that is more nutritious than the others are. Mindfully prioritize those items so that you get good taste and health in one go.
- You can try minimizing your intake of breads and rice during the festive season. Instead, fill your plate with lentils, salads, special treats you will not usually get once the festivals are over, protein sources like meat and cheese preparations, etc.
- Maintain a versatile hydration plan. If water seems too boring, you can keep sipping on interesting smoothies, teas and lemonade variants. Probiotic drinks are also a great addition to your day when you want that extra help with digestion
Festive eating does not have to be unhealthy. If you follow the right strategy and stick to mindful eating and moderation, you can largely reduce your post-celebration blues. The key is to build and maintain a pleasant and fulfilling relationship with food. The latter is not the enemy. You just need to improve your approach and you will be good to go. Happy festivities to you and yours!