Outsmarting the Holiday Temptations

The holidays can be a wonderful time to get together with family, relax, and take some time off from work. We also know the holidays can be very stressful and bring about a lot of temptations. In fact, in our society Thanksgiving and Christmas are usually not just two days. The holiday Thanksgiving feast is usually followed by a month long preparation for Christmas involving gingerbread cookies, hot chocolate, and snacking on peanut brittle. By the time the holidays are over it’s not surprising how those extra pounds packed on. In fact, different studies have pointed that that about half the annual weight gain in the U.S. occurs during this 6-week holiday period! Did you know that the most popular New Year’s Resolution is to lose weight? What if that didn’t need that to be our New Year’s resolution for 2015? What if we stayed mindful during the holiday season, and didn’t give in to every candy cane we saw? What if December 26th came around, and we didn’t feel bloated, lethargic, and shameful about another season full of bad decisions? What if we could outsmart all the holiday temptations and not feel guilty about the choices we made? You might be thinking, “How is that possible?!” Well, without further adieu I bring you:

Seven strategies to help you stay on track and outsmart those holiday temptations!

1. Consume PFC Every 3-4 Hours. You may hear this a lot, and for good reason! Nourishing your body with a protein, fat, and carbohydrate source every 3-4 hours not only helps prevent a ride on the blood sugar roller coaster, but it also helps reduce those sugar cravings, and keep your metabolism working for you (instead of against you). It’s pretty common in our society to “save” our calories by not eating all day, and then feasting on a huge meal later on. That might make sense if the whole “calories in, calories out” philosophy were true, but it’s not. If we don’t eat all day, our blood sugars drop causing us to give in to those temptations, and eat more than we usually would. Of course you want to be hungry before your holiday meal, but you also want to be in control of your eating. Eat balanced PFC meals and snacks leading up to the event, and you’ll have the power to make better decisions. 2. Learn How to Say No. Do you have a family member who is constantly nagging you to eat a piece of pie or a friend that always wants you to sample everything she makes? If that’s the case, then learn how to say no. Simply saying “I’ll pass, thanks” or “I’m pretty full, looks great though!” is a gentle way to say no to the temptation without sounding rude. Just because you are offered something doesn’t mean you need to eat it. 3. “B.Y.O.D.” Another way to plan ahead is to bring your own dish (B.Y.O.D.) that follows our PFC guidelines. Instead of the typical green bean casserole, what if you brought baked green beans melted in butter with slivered almonds? Yum! Or, if you are dairy free or gluten free, bring your own version of a popular dish so you know you can eat it. 4. Be Selective. While you’re walking though the buffet table at the party, instead of taking a sample of everything available, choose carefully. Consider all your available options, and choose the best ones that will fit the PFC guidelines best. I like to start with selecting my protein source first, then my carbohydrate source (vegetables or fruit), then adding in my fat (butter is a very easy one and usually available at parties!). Simply decide which foods will fill you up the most, and give you the most “bang for your buck.” Your holiday meals and snacks don’t need to be perfect, but it should be possible to make them PFC balanced! Here are some examples of what a balanced PFC holiday meal may look like:
  • 5 oz. ham (P) + 1.5 cups mixed vegetables (non-starchy C) + 1/2 cup mashed potatoes (starchy C) made with heavy cream (F) and butter (F)
  • 4-6 turkey meatballs (P) + 1/2 sweet potato (starchy C) + 2 cups salad greens with vegetables of choice (non-starchy C) + a few avocado slices (F) + 1 oz. Feta cheese (F) + 1 Tbsp olive oil drizzled on top (F)

And what a balanced PFC holiday snack may look like:

  • 1-2 deviled eggs (P) + 1 cup raw veggies (C) + 2 Tbsp. guacamole (F)
  • 4 mini ham and cream cheese roll ups (P & F) + 1/2 cup strawberries (C)

5. Avoid Temptation. The saying, “out of sight, out of mind” has some truth to it! If you don’t buy any gingerbread cookies or English toffee at the grocery store, then you’ll be very unlikely to eat it at home. Write out a grocery list before you go to the store (you can split it into P, F, & C categories found on our Balanced Eating Handout in our Getting Started Guide) and stick with the foods on your list. Skip the bakery isle full of Christmas cookies and choose from the outer perimeter of the grocery store (this is where you’ll find the majority of the foods that will fuel your body the most!) You can find more tips on simple strategies for grocery shopping here.

6. Get Active. Getting some exercise during the holiday season can help reduce your blood sugar spikes, as well as improve your energy levels and mood. Instead of sitting around on the coach after eating that big meal, what about going for a walk with the family? Or getting a group together for a game of football or basketball? Or better yet, showing off those dance moves in a Just Dance competition (my favorite)! Any activity will be beneficial, not only for your metabolism and health, but it will also reduce the likelihood of continuously snacking. 7. Be Confident. Do not enter the holiday season with the mentality that you are going to fail! If this is your first attempt at a PFC holiday, go into it thinking, “This year will be different! I have the information I need to be successful!” If you’re thinking, “I don’t have the willpower to say no!” well, the truth of the matter is, it’s not all about willpower. It’s about keeping those blood sugars stable and fueling our bodies with the right foods that it needs. Remember: we make better decisions when our blood sugars are balanced! Be confident in your choice to make your health a priority, and don't hold yourself back! The holidays can be a challenging time to be mindful of the foods you are fueling your body with. Instead of entering every holiday season with the mindset that you can just lose all that excess weight from a quick diet starting January 1st, I challenge you to implement the above strategies to help you outsmart those holiday temptations, as well as every other temptation throughout the year. Are you ready for a new New Year’s Resolution?

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