healthy-holidays

Raise your hand if you struggle to say “No” to the pumpkin pie! Seriously, raise your hand because simply the act of movement will bring your subconscious and your conscious together to fully grasp what you are doing the moment you think you are too full and then someone mentions pie. If you didn’t raise your hand, you are lying to yourself, even I raised my hand! It’s part of our culture, our nature to want to enjoy the holidays with no reservations and no guilt…well, maybe a little. I am here to tell you, enjoy your pie, but enjoy responsibly. There are ways to eliminate the pure pain when January 1st rolls around of realizing the damage you are capable of doing in just a couple months! I mentioned this before, but on average, people gain 8-12 pounds between Halloween and New Years. Do you have any idea what that looks like… let me show you…

fat

Not only does it weigh you down literally, but putting on so much weight in a short period of time taxes your organs, particularly your liver and digestive system, leading to a whole lot of potential health complications down the road. Yes, with a few trips to the gym and some eating adjustments you can combat this in the new year, but each time you put on weight and lose it, it gets harder the next time to do the same, which is why people find themselves having more and more trouble losing weight as time goes on (I promise it is not just age).

So if you haven’t stopped reading out of fear I’m going to tell you to give up your pie, I’m happy to say you won’t have to. All you need to do is adopt some of the below decisions to make your holidays the happiest and healthiest they have ever been.

  1. Always start a meal with a salad

This should actually be a general part of your life, but especially around the holidays, you should have a salad before every meal. Why? Well one, because the salad will help fill you up so that you don’t overeat your carb/fat filled second and third courses. Two, because with most holiday meals, the amount of veggies, let alone veggies that aren’t smothered in cream or butter are few and far between. And in case that wasn’t enough, a salad is basically free food packed with life giving nutrients that will help you to feel less blah after your meal. So, step one, always start a meal with a salad.

  1. Drink a large class of water 30 minutes before eating

If you want to avoid overeating, I highly recommend drinking a glass of water 30 minutes before eating. Oftentimes, our bodies mistake hunger for extreme thirst, and a simple glass of water might change your opinions towards that extra spoonful of gravy. Throughout the entire day, you should be sure to drink several glasses of water (half your bodyweight in ounces), but stop 30 minutes before your meal and do not resume until 30 minutes after your meal. Why? Because when you eat, especially a heavy holiday meal, your body produces digestive enzymes to help digest your food. When you drink water, you wash out these enzymes, leaving food stuck undigested, ultimately causing damage to your stomach and intestines (this is also why you find yourself so bloated after a large meal). So, for the best digestive support that doesn’t leave you feeling bloated or gross, drink a full cup of water 30 minutes before you eat and 30 minutes after you eat.

  1. Wait 10 minutes before getting seconds

Similar to the tip about water, your body needs time to process all of the food you just chowed down before you fill it with more. In today’s culture people eat faster than their system can keep up with, barely chewing their food, and barely acknowledging their experience. When you eat, at first you might not feel full, especially if you’ve been saving your stomach all day for that meal, but trust me, if you wait 10 minutes you will realize that you probably do not need another serving of potatoes. However, if after 10 minutes you are still truly hungry, get seconds but try to load up on protein and vegetables in your next round, as most likely the carbs have not had time to expand in your stomach yet. Seconds does not include dessert, which brings me to my next point…

  1. Eat a piece of the pie, but not the whole pie

You can have your cake or pie, and eat it too. Unfortunately, during the moment your brain is going to tell you, ‘Oh one more piece is ok, it’s only once a year.’ DO NOT LISTEN! That is the dopamine center of your brain trying to override what you know you need to do, in its desire for sugar to maintain the high. Go into every meal with the decision, the conviction that if you decide to have dessert, you only have one serving. It is also easy to load a plate up with all of the different options, French silk, Apple, Pumpkin, Ice Cream, Chocolate, Cookies, the list goes on. If, and only if, you can have a half of a half of a portion of each can you try all the flavors, but most people, and their overzealous mom’s who serve the dessert, cannot do this. So, my best advice, get your 1 serving of dessert, sit down, stare at it, and focus intently on every bite savoring the flavor, texture, and sensations.

  1. Move before and after you eat

This tip CANNOT be understated. If you are going to gorge yourself with several servings of food at one time, you have to get moving. The morning before your meal, go for a walk or run, go to the gym, even incorporate the family in a fun activity like flag football or Frisbee. Whatever you do, get some movement in before your meal because you most definitely won’t want to afterwards. However, after the meal, do not sit down within 20 minutes of eating. Whether you are cleaning dishes, going for a walk, or even just pacing around the house, don’t allow yourself to sit. You need to move to work your digestive system, which is going into overdrive due to the large amounts of food you just consumed. Moving around will ensure you do not feel overstuffed like that turkey you just ate, and will help you feel better the next day. This brings me to the next day. Make the decision now that you will get up and use all those calories for good whether at the gym or outside. I promise, although it might be hard to motivate yourself at first, you will feel 110% better for it afterwards. You also might even decide to avoid the leftover smorgasbord because you are high on all those post-exercise endorphins!

  1. Find new recipes that are healthier alternatives

For my last point, I wanted to encourage you to find new and exciting recipes that are healthier alternatives to your favorite foods. Whether that is cauliflower mashed potatoes, simply steamed green beans, paleo pumpkin pie, or a gluten free gravy, there are literally THOUSANDS of recipes out there on Pinterest. Feel free to check out my Pinterest page for some suggestions! In addition to making healthier alternatives, when you are making your main plate, try to make at least 50% of it filled with some sort of vegetable (and no potato does not count). I promise you will not be missing out on anything, you will still get to taste, and still get to enjoy, but will not have to feel nearly as bad or have to work as hard come the new year. Here are some good looking recipes that won’t leave you missing those bad-for-you sides again.

I know this is a lot, and you might think you are sacrificing some enjoyment, but I promise you, you’re not. Your brain runs on auto pilot, not always being conscious of what you want, need, or are even doing. Don’t allow yourself to fall prey to your subconscious that only wants to sabotage your goals and your health. If you just follow these simple steps, truly being conscious of your holidays, not only will you find you enjoy them more, but you will be thanking me come January 1st when your New Year’s resolution no longer needs to be about trying to lose weight for the 5th year in a row, but can really be something to change your life!

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