As if the pressures of the holidays weren’t enough, I know there are many of you out there just like me that feel the added stress of holiday food. The fear of blowing your diet, of gaining five pounds of sugar filled weight, and of waking up New Year’s day feeling miserable about yourself and hoping you can stick to your resolution to melt it all back off. The holidays shouldn’t involve thinking and stressing over food. There are too many joyous moments to enjoy and more important things to be focused on. So, I’m hoping face the three four Thanksgiving meals and the six Christmas meals (yes you read that right, Husband has taken to calling them the “feedings”) I have in front of me with a plan.
Focus On Veggies – I’ve mentioned this tactic before, but this is the perfect opportunity to put it into practice. The meals ahead of me will be packed with creamy starches and carbs, treats oozing with sugar and plenty of gravy to wash it all down. And while I fully intend to taste and enjoy each delicacy I know how bad plate after plate sans veggies will make me feel. And the holidays are the last time I want to feel like crap when all of my friends and family are in town. So I plan to give a large portion (half at least) over to vegetables; preferably green ones. And leave a section for tastes of the more indulgent dishes. Knowing myself there will be seconds, but at least this way I can focus those seconds on what I really enjoy and have been waiting all year to eat.
Contribute A Healthy (but delicious) Option – The easiest way to make sure there will be something healthy to choose from is to make something to contribute. This year I am making acorn squash stuffed with quinoa, goat cheese, sundried tomatoes, shallots, walnuts and basil for our Thanksgiving dinner at my in-laws. I made this dish the other night to test it out and not only is it delicious but the goat cheese makes it feel indulgent while the quinoa provides a healthy dose of filling protein and the squash ups the fiber to make me feel full. I can eat this guilt free, taste the other dishes and feel satisfied. For our annual Christmas Vacation viewing party I am making the balsamic roasted green beans with blue cheese and walnuts that I took on our secret picnic. Salads are always an easy option, as are roasted vegetables (brussel sprouts, broccoli, carrots, sweet potatoes) seasoned to your liking or dressed with a light sauce or vinaigrette.
Stick to My Exercise Routine – It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and push your normal exercise routine to the back burner. This year I am making it my goal to stick to my routine by exercising in some capacity at least three times a week. A good run the morning of a day full of eating can not only make you feel better and less guilty about the calories you are consuming, but starting your day with a healthy choice or activity often encourages you to make healthier decisions throughout the day.
Enjoy Myself – I don’t want to spend the holidays fretting over every morsel that passes my lips. It’s a time of joy, happiness and family and that’s where my focus should be. Taking a tip from Geneen and her book Women Food and God, I hope to really just enjoy myself and enjoy the experience from the food to the fellowship. I am going to try my best to be in the moment and aware, whether that means taking the time to acknowledge the taste and pleasure I feel when eating macaroni and cheese, or the warmth I feel in my heart at the sound of the laughter echoing throughout the house. Happiness isn’t just skinny thighs, pleasure is not just a result of indulging at the dinner table and life is about so much more than food.