The holidays are here. The weather is cold in the Northern Hemisphere and expectations for a joyous season run high. Gatherings with loved ones, happy times, visions of sugarplums may dance in your head or fill you with longing for days past.

For those fortunate enough, these joyous expectations become their reality, but for most of us, there are dashes of sadness or disappointment laced into the happy times. Longing for loved ones long gone, overwhelm from holiday shopping, or worry over paying the bills can take us by surprise.

For the happy and not-so-happy times, food is everywhere through the holiday season. Being selective in the midst of so many distractions can be a challenge for even the most conscious among us.

A horrifying reality is that millions awake on New Year’s Day with a hefty weight gain from the year-end goings on. I don’t want that to happen to me or to you. But this requires an action plan around your food and most importantly, around your awareness and self-care techniques.

Here are some key strategies that will help you successfully navigate the holidays:

Plan

Think ahead about how you would like to spend your year-end holidays. Make a plan and then back it up with a fallback plan in case your first one doesn’t materialize. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment.

Eat Wisely

As a health and nutrition specialist. I’d like to suggest the following moderation techniques with food over the holidays:

  • Identify where and when you’re likely to have the most temptations – at home, in the office, socials, etc.
  • Keep in touch with your emotions – especially if you tend to be an emotional eater.
  • Practice self-care – be picky about events and don’t feel you must attend every one of them.
  • Drink lemon water – it will cut your sugar cravings.
  • Eat regular meals – don’t skip them thinking you’ll ‘save’ your calories.
  • Don’t try to be perfect – aim for 90% and enjoy your traditional treats in moderation.
  • Practice gratitude.

Budget

It’s easy to get caught up in the frenzy without a budget plan. Grandparents can go overboard in expressing their love through gifts. We’ve all seen the excitement on Christmas morning, only to be quickly forgotten soon after (but not the credit card bills!). Set a budget and stay with it.

I started with my two children and, with each of them now married with children, my immediate family list has grown to 10! I have gifts for each of them but stay within my budget and make the dollars spent for each child fairly equal. The adults are happy with a night out with babysitting covered by me.

The most treasured gifts can be that of your time spent baking cookies with your grandkids. If you don’t live nearby, you can always send a little package several weeks before Christmas that will surely delight and remind them how much you love them.

When 2019 Rolls Around

Ah, January 2nd, the day of reckoning. If you follow my suggestions, you won’t find yourself with those extra 7-10 pounds like so many people do. But if you have moderately indulged in your favorite sweet treats, you may find yourself craving for them into the new year.

It’s important to know that sugar is a very addictive food. It’s not a lack of discipline that sends you craving. It is a biological response, and this is the time to nip it in the bud. I invite you to join me in my annual Post-Holiday Cleanse.

It’s a short, comprehensive program that will cut the cravings and get you back on track for a highly successful, nutritious New Year. You can sign up anytime, and we’ll start in early January. Find out more here.

What has been your biggest challenge around holiday eating? What techniques do you employ that keep you from indulging in too much food? Please join the conversation and most important of all, have a very happy holiday season and New Year.

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