Surviving the Holidays: Tips for Staying Healthy

Posted on Monday, December 23rd, 2013 at 5:04 am

 

Someone sent me the following message:

 

With Xmas arriving, what do you do with all the treats around?

 

Ok, I wouldn’t buy them, but in the office, at every gathering, gifts, they are EVERYWHERE and in the end I know I will give in.

 

Do you indulge sometimes? Or it is absolutely out of your diet? Are there any gracious ways to refuse and not upset someone offering you the home baked minced pie? 

 

I do love the festive mood, and I actually also want to indulge, but I just think that the moment I start, I will never be able to control it any longer.

 

Although there are probably many variations to these questions, I’m sure many people can relate.

 

But before I begin to address these concerns with specific tips and examples of what to do in each situation, I first want to tackle the issue of holiday stress and lack of control over food using a more holistic approach.

 

Visualization

This is probably the most important and effective tool that anyone can use to get through any stress or obstacle in their lives. 

 

I personally meditate and visualize every morning and it allows me to begin my day feeling calm, grateful and focused on the priorities of the day.

 

Although it may seem silly or something only tree-hugging hippies would do, visualization or mental rehearsal is nothing to scoff at. 

 

It is used by the most successful business people, leaders, and sportsmen alike; Sir Richard Branson, Oprah, Steve Jobs, Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, and Arnold Schwarzenegger  just to name a few.

 

Visualization is basically mental training that helps turn mental images into reality.  And this tool can be very effective during the holidays as well.

 

For example, if you’ve been invited to a festive dinner party and you’re worried that you won’t be able to resist the temptations around you, re-create the scene in your mind and play it out the way you would want it to be instead.

 

For instance, if food is a source of stress for you, then imagine yourself being there, calm and relaxed, enjoying your time, laughing with family and friends, and not focusing so much on food, but rather on the people around you. 

 

Envision yourself eating slowly, making the right choices without feeling restricted or deprived, and appreciating the company. 

 

Shift your focus away from food and don’t allow it to become a source of stress for you.

 

Do this on a daily basis, even twice a day if needed.

 

Mental rehearsal has worked for many of my clients and can work for you too. 

 

The response is always the same. 

 

They feel stronger and more in control, they feel proud of themselves after a dinner party with friends, and they begin to realize that eating healthy is not a sacrifice but a conscious choice to honor themselves and their bodies in any given situation.

 

In addition to daily visualization, I also recommend practicing two other habits to help deal with stressful situations.

 

Acknowledge Your Feelings

 

The first step is to recognize and acknowledge your feelings and sources of stress at this time of year.  

 

Whether it be your relationship with food, the stress of being around certain family members or feeling distant from family, the stress of shopping for gifts, the stress of entertaining, the stress of traveling, the stress of deadlines at work, or even financial stress, just acknowledge it. 

 

Recognize it and find an outlet to release your emotions.

 

You can close your eyes and take deep breaths, meditate, cry, talk to a friend, reach out to loved ones, or write in a journal – anything that will help release repressed emotions.

 

Movement

 

Sitting or lying around heightens feelings of stress, while moving around and walking, helps dissipate these negative feelings and allows positive energy to flow through your body.

 

Move your body in a way that you enjoy.  If you prefer to dance over running on a treadmill, than dance! 

 

Do whatever movement that is enjoyable to you especially in times of stress as physical movement helps increase the feel-good endorphins in your body.

 

Practical Tips for Surviving the Holidays

 

With Xmas arriving, what do you do with all the treats around? Ok, I wouldn’t buy them, but in the office, at every gathering, gifts, they are EVERYWHERE and in the end I know I will give in.

 

I agree there are definitely a lot of sweet treats being handed out at this time of year and temptations are everywhere. 

 

If you can hide them from high traffic areas that will help lessen the impulsive eating.  As the old adage goes, “out of sight, out of mind”!

 

Just remember that although you may not be able to control the external environment, you do have control over the choices you make.

 

Do you indulge sometimes? Or it is absolutely out of your diet?

 

Sure I do.  But it is a conscious decision free from guilt or remorse, and I accept responsibility. 

 

I think this is an important distinction. 

 

So many people eat unconsciously or what is also known as emotional or impulsive eating. 

 

They eat in the absence of hunger; a small candy here and there, a juice at a friend’s house, a cookie or piece of cake while socializing, etc., and then feel bad about it.

 

If you consciously make an effort to eat healthy and be active most of the days, then the occasional indulgences are easier to accept.

 

With time however, I have found that I am no longer tempted as easily because the desire to nourish myself with wholesome foods has become much stronger than the short term satisfaction that these temptations would bring.

 

But if you’re not quite there yet, then visualization as I mentioned above can help a lot.

 

For example, see yourself walking passed the temptations at work, without a care in the world. 

 

And if you do allow yourself to indulge a little, than see yourself eating it slowly, enjoying every bite and feeling happy and satisfied with only a small piece.

 

Are there any gracious ways to refuse and not upset someone offering you the home baked minced pie? 

 

In many circumstances, it is disrespectful to refuse what is being served to you, so I understand your dilemma. 

 

I’ve found that the best way to handle this situation is to actually take whatever is being offered to you, and to not make a scene.

 

You can then leave it in your plate or napkin and it usually goes unnoticed.

 

The majority of people these days want to lose weight, so if you simply tell the hosts honestly that you’re watching your food intake, they will usually understand and respect your wishes.

 

Although I won’t advocate lying, you can always say that you’re not hungry or that you’ll have some later on.

 

If they still insist, then blame it on your trainer. :)

 

Tell them you can’t have it because your trainer “said so”.  I’ve had clients use this line and have been told that it creates interesting table conversation as it is not something you typically hear every day.

 

I do love the festive mood, and I actually also want to indulge, but I just think that the moment I start, I will never be able to control it any longer.

 

While visualization can help with self-control, frequent eating can help you make healthier choices. 

 

It is a fact that we crave foods higher in sugar and fat when we’re hungry, so don’t let yourself get too hungry.

 

For example, if you’re invited to a festive dinner party and you’re worried about the temptations and food choices available, have a light dinner at home before going.

 

Not being super hungry will help you make better food choices, resist temptations, and keep your portions in check.

 

–//–

 

What about you?  Do you have any other tips that you can share? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Given email address is already subscribed, thank you!
Oops. Something went wrong. Please try again later.
Please provide a valid email address.
Thank you, your sign-up request was successful! Please check your e-mail inbox.
Please complete the CAPTCHA.
Please fill in the required fields.

Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)