I love being with family during the holidays – well, MOST of the time! There are chaotic moments, however, and learning how to manage stress can be the difference between maintaining a healthy eating lifestyle or succumbing to emotional eating.
In my family, different schedules, tastes, and levels of hunger often create conflicts over when, where and what meals will look like. Since I’m often the guest, I usually end up going with the flow. That means more restaurants, late dinners, and fast food choices than I’d normally prefer.
There are three key strategies that I’ve adopted in order to stay true to my desire to maintain a healthy eating lifestyle without creating conflict:
- Exercise – I’m an early riser and starting my day with a jog or walk on the treadmill helps to relieve stress. It also gives me some time to myself to plan the day ahead. I’m not focusing on weight loss, simply maintaining a healthy weight.
- Planning ahead – Breakfast I can usually have on my own, but the other meals are mostly decided on the fly. I’m managed to work around these ‘unknowns’ by taking along a granola bar and juice so that I’m not overly hungry at family mealtimes. Sometimes I’ll even have a regular lunch on my own and opt for salad if everyone is going to a restaurant or fast food joint. That way, I’m still joining in socially, but not tempted by foods that are less healthy choices for me.
- Eating mindfully – At parties, I try to really savor what I’m eating. I tend to eat a little more if I drink alcohol, so usually I opt to have some wine or cocktails after dinner. I don’t deny myself anything because I only end up feeling deprived. So, if that chocolate truffle calls to me, I definately answer!
In general, I’m able to carve out a healthy eating lifestyle with family at the holidays. There are times when I’m not making the healthiest of food choices, but allowing myself the option of enjoying holiday foods IS a healthy lifestyle choice in and of itself.