Friday, April 6, 2012

Holiday Food Survival Guide (You don't have to eat all that)

We usually talk about holiday eating around Christmas, but it seems these days that every holiday has it's own baggage of sugar, just in different colors. I remember going to church on Easter as a kid with ziplocks crammed with chocolate eggs, jelly beans, and marshmallows, and then spending the rest of the day eating Reese's eggs until I wanted to throw up. And when they started making the Snickers and Milky Way eggs, it was even worse. I have eaten enough Easter candy through the course of my childhood to last a lifetime. I do not feel compelled to eat ANY anymore! 

But, even with candy aside, holidays seem to put us into some kind of trance where we convince ourselves that we need to bring out (and eat) the Special Food. And, that's cool if your Special Food is fruit salad and steamed veggies. But it's not. It's pound cake and spiral ham and potato salad. So, an updated version of my Holiday Survival Guide might make this weekend a little easier for the healthy folks.

Here's how to not face Monday from the murky depths of a calorie coma:

Anticipate hurdles and make a plan
If you're eating Easter dinner at home, it will be much easier to eat a healthy meal. But, if you're joining friends or family...
o   Volunteer to bring something (and make it something you can eat without stress)
o   Bring a bottle of water and keep it in your hands, refill throughout the day as necessary
o   Spend time socializing, not eating. 
o   Practice responses to people who pressure you to indulge.

Get stubborn
Sometimes maintaining a certain standard of health means just being stubborn. Channel your inner three-year-old and just say NO to people or events that hijack your plans.  No way, no how, no thank you.  It can feel awkward at first to turn down someone’s chocolate caramel goo-goo brownies with fudge icing, but trust me: they will get over it. In the meantime, you can use these Body Boosters to Increase Happiness Today.

Learn to say “no” creatively
Save the three-year-old routine for your internal dialogue, however.  When you’re confronted with something that is not on your plan, use positive language to redirect the attention away from your refusal to indulge.  Be sure to:
o   Express gratitude (thanks for offering!)
o   Acknowledge the effort (it is so thoughtful of you to make these for me!)
o   Suggest an alternative (I’m not hungry now, but I’ll look for it later.)

Remember – no one can force open your mouth and make you eat something.  Well, they can but they won’t.  Don’t engage in a debate over whether you “should” or “need to lose weight.”  It’s your decision.

If all else fails, tell them you are allergic. I've done it for years and it works great. :)

Get real about “special” food
We are lucky enough to live in a country where food is bountiful.  We have 24-7 access to Wal-Mart, which carries every vice you can eat.  Sure, your mom only makes that special cake for Easter Sunday, but what’s to stop you from making it in the middle of July?  There is no such thing as “limited time offer” when it comes to food. 

Instead of placing so much emphasis on the food traditions surrounding the holidays, create memories by interacting with your family in a new way that is not food-related.  Institute an annual after-dinner walk.  Break out the puzzles.  Just remember – people are a limited-time offer, not food.  Focus on the people.

Holidays are for celebrating! But, celebrations do not have to mean that your healthy goals get put on hold. You can maintain good nutrition and still celebrate! And, trust me, getting to the end of a holiday without feeling like the Sunday ham is definitely worth celebrating.

Don't eat Peeps. Don't eat jelly beans. Don't eat chocolate eggs, even the peanut butter ones and even the Snickers ones. Just don't.

But have a beautiful, joyous weekend. Get out there and get healthy!

No comments: