This time of year, we all think about traditions. So many of our traditions include family and food. Traditions in almost all cultures include these. The sights, the sounds, the aromas of Grandmas and Aunts cooking in their kitchens. Playing with cousins when we were children, or sitting with the Uncles as they told their stories. This is my favorite time of year.
But how do we navigate all of the FOOD when these traditions mean so much to us? These are important elements of our lives. Here are my thoughts and tips.
First and foremost- LET GO OF THE GUILT! This is one of the most difficult things to do, especially when and if you are a chronic dieter. That guilt can ruin anything and everything. Let. It. Go. It does you no good.
If you know you are going to a family function or a holiday party- plan ahead. Be sure to eat extra veggies all day before you go. Add them to breakfast if they are not on your meal map. Add them to snacks. Add extra to lunch.
Do not go to a party hungry. Hunger can force you to make all the bad choices all night long. Even if you need to eat on the way there- grab some veggies and munch on your commute.
Be sure to drink your water the day of the event (you should be drinking lots of water everyday). Sometimes when we are getting ready for a party or event, we are so busy that food and water are pushed to the side. Make time for them.
Don't stress over the phases when you are attending holiday get togethers. It is better to eat off phase than off plan so this may work for you. Stick to the master food list, if possible.
If you must eat off plan- ENJOY IT! Sit and savor it. Try to take small bites and really enjoy everything about it- the aroma, the texture, the taste. Now I know this is hard when you may be eating while standing and talking at a party, or sitting around a large table and talking with family. But really plan to enjoy the food.
We cannot always control what foods are going to be served when we go to events. If the situation calls for it, as the hostess if you can bring a dish. Then make that dish FMD compliant. Hummus and veggies. Homemade Ranch and veggies. A fruit salad. Meatballs in BBQ Sauce or marinara. There are lots of things you can make that no one has to know is "diet food." Be sure to leave out any foods made with xylitol- since it is deadly to pets and not everyone has a positive reaction to it.
If you have back to back parties to attend, plan ahead and make the soups for Haylie's Soup Cleanse. Or prep the soup and tea for her I Burn. Or even Weekend Warrior. These can help to get you back on track after noshing on all the holiday fare.
Eat as healthy as possible when you are not attending parties. Even if that means only a couple snacks and a meal a day- use these opportunities to fill your body with healthy foods. Do not fall into the trap of "well, I am going to eat like crap tonight so I may as well eat like crap all day." Use every meal or snack that you can control as a chance to give your body what it needs. While you may not lose weight, you are doing good things by eating healthy as much as you can. Plan ahead for this. Fill out your meal map and plan to stick to it. Sometimes those parties sneak up or there are surprise invitations.
Look for healthy alternatives to cooking your favorite meals. I find Thanksgiving the easiest to make compliant and healthy- roasted turkey? Easy. Sweet Potato Soufflé? Sure. Stuffing and Rolls? Yup. Green Bean Casserole? Of course! I have recipes for these as well as Cauliflower Gratin, Sweet Potato Rolls, Pumpkin Pie, French Toast Casserole- almost everything you could need for a healthy and DELICOUS holiday. But I also know that Grandma might make the best lasagna, or chowder or blackberry pie and there is no substitute for that! Enjoy those guilt free and in moderation.
Take up walking- make a new family tradition to go for a walk in the park or around the neighborhood before the big dinner. Or get out in the yard and play frisbee or flag football. If you cannot get the family involved, take up yoga or get on the treadmill under your pile of clothes. Even at a slow pace, you are doing good things for your body.
Don't let the holiday foods get you down. You can have a balance with a little planning.