It’s the time of year when we face a myriad of food choices. Holiday office parties, church Christmas potlucks, and family gatherings can wreak food decision havoc. The stress of the season can trigger emotional eating leaving you with crushing guilt and sluggish energy. The key to maintaining healthy eating habits throughout this joyous season is not to adhere to food rules and rituals (unless you have a health condition). The key is to set yourself up for food success one forkful at a time.
Here are helpful tips to get you to navigate the holiday food frenzy and still enjoy every bite.
Healthy Holiday Eating Tips
Guard Your Quiet Time
Your days are full and hurried from the moment your feet hit the floor. The importance of preserving enough time for prayer and Bible reading. There are creative ways to accomplish these tasks like listening to a podcast during your commute to work, running errands, or preparing a meal. Emily P. Freeman offers soulful words in her podcast The Next Right Thing.
Without creating space in your day to enrich your soul, busyness will breed spiritual apathy which will eat away your joy.
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Food and God are inseparable. Feed your soul spiritual food and feed your body food that nourishes and heals.
Keep a Stash of Healthy Snacks
Take a few minutes to reclaim your pantry and frig “safe food zones.” It’s a small yet significant step. Purge your pantry and refrigerator of processed food snacks and replace them with nutrient-dense grab and go foods like RXBAR Bars Larabar bars, Epic Uncured Bacon Bars, and, Fruit/Nut Trail Mix.
Pre-package your snacks to avoid polishing off an entire bag. The other day I worked through lunch so when 3:00 rolled around, I raced to the pantry and surveyed my quick choices. An innocent bag of Veggie chips proved to be my target. I attacked the bag like a starving piranha on a feeding frenzy.
Even though I ate Veggie chips and not Fritos, I exercised no portion control.
In your frig, stock the shelves with an array of pre-cut veggies. Partner the veggies with Tessemae ’s dressing. Stockpile fresh fruit, especially in-season varieties. Gather dips made from real food sources like hummus, tahini, and guacamole. As you shop, scour the store for dips that require refrigeration, not the ones that set on your pantry shelf.
Pack Your Meals
Holiday schedules often keep us running during meal times. Each day, glance at your daily calendar with meals on the go in mind. Packing your meals is a small step in ensuring that you avoid the fast food drive-thru.
Whenever possible avoid eating in the car. Of course, on occasion, eating in the car is unavoidable.
Offer to Bring an Entree or Dessert to a Holiday Gathering
You know that recipe you’ve been dying to try out? Now is the time to grab your apron. When you RSVP to an invitation this Christmas, present the hostess with your new recipe and tell her to keep the festive dish as a hostess gift. Former White House chef and cookbook author of Eat a Little Better: Great Flavor, Good Health, Better World advises, “cooking at home is one of the best things you could do for your family’s well-being.”
No-FUSS healthy living includes a life WITH desserts! You just need to learn which desserts to skip in the buffet line. Processed desserts contain high levels of added sugar and other suspicious ingredients. Instead, spoon fresh fruit onto your plate, take one homemade cookie not four.
Whenever you attend a gathering, eat slowly and savor the food and the companionship.
Devise a Backup Plan for Food Triggers
What triggers the food panther in you? Fatigue? Loneliness?
Fatigue can lead to depression which could then trigger a food binge. It’s important to remember that excessive sleepiness impairs decision-making abilities while increasing our desire for unhealthy foods.
When you find yourself making frequent trips back to the food table, engage in a different activity as far from the food as possible. Link arms with a friend who understands your challenges with food. The moment you feel like backsliding into a binge, prayerfully pursue a mind shift or quietly exit the party.
I have a friend who is a recovering alcoholic, and he intentionally avoids social events that trigger drinking. He politely declines dinners at restaurants where a bar is the main attraction. Not long ago, he sent regrets to a wedding invite because too many former drinking buddies were on the guest list. It’s too early in his recovery, and he just can’t risk going backward in his recovery process.
To take a pass on a social event especially if you are exceptionally tired, stressed, and feeling emotionally vulnerable. Instead, reach out to a trusted friend or mentor and ask them over for coffee. Avoiding a junk food relapse requires a handful of encouragement and determination delivered in the form of a warm hug from a friend or mentor.
Remind Yourself of the Creator-Connection to Food
Connect your food to the Creator because everything he created is good. When we dismiss God’s involvement with food, we eat without gratitude or purpose.
Women turn to food when they are not hungry because they are hungry for something they can’t name: a connection to what is beyond the concerns of daily life. Something deathless, something sacred. But replacing the hunger for divine connection with Double Stuf Oreos is like giving a glass of sand to a person dying of thirst. It creates more thirst, more panic. Geneen Roth
We spend a lifetime picking up our fork and mindlessly eat to fill a void. Now may be the perfect time to start a gratitude journal and spend time thanking God for food from creation.
When you write in your journal, do it when you can step out of the day’s chaos for a quiet reprieve.
Healthy living transcends just the kitchen table. It incorporates exercise as well. Oftentimes, focusing just on food doesn’t change behavior or kick bad food habits. When you cultivate healthy living as a lifestyle then your outlook on everything begins to alter.
As a part of your holiday healthy eating and lifestyle, get outside for 20 minutes a day. Breathe in the fresh air, take a brisk walk, and enjoy the season.
How to Navigate the Holidays with Healthy Eating Intact
- Nourish your soul and body
- Stash those healthy snacks
- Pack your meals
- Offer to bring a dish or dessert
- Be mindful of those food triggers
- Be proactive about the Creator-Connection to food
- Get outside and move
Which strategies do you employ to navigate the holiday food frenzy?
If you need a healthy eating reboot, my No-FUSS Healthy Living Starter Kit is just the tool.