Beating Holiday Food Stress

Tis the season for office parties and socializing with friends and family – and a seemingly endless supply of sweets and treats. If you’re stressed about staying on track with healthy eating during the holidays, fear not! These tips will help you avoid common pitfalls and start the New Year on the right foot. 

A recipe for failure

Healthy eating is the key to healthy living. We are all tempted, though, by not-so-healthy cravings – and that’s OK. Depriving yourself of an occasional treat is a recipe for failure. When I severely restrict myself, I eventually find my finger hovering over a box of chocolates trying to determine which is next. Oh sure, it starts with ‘just one’ but with an overload of stress hormones we naturally crave sugar (it’s that darn fight or flight trigger). 

If you’re in a constant state of deprivation, one chocolate or sugar cookie can lead you off track for a long time and leave you feeling badly. So go ahead and enjoy an occasional treat – just do it in moderation and balance it with healthier food choices. 

3 ways to get a little wiggle room in your holiday food choices

Plan it out – Take a few minutes on Thursday or Friday to think about the following week. If it’s a busy one, prepare meals on the weekend. For example, pop a roast or a whole chicken in the oven, clean and cut up some vegetables to store in an airtight container. These quick-fixes will keep you on track when you don’t have time to cook. While you're in the kitchen, make some hard boiled eggs to have on the run. 

Veg out – When navigating food choices at parties, fill your plate with veggies. If they are raw, choose the ones you like best without dip. I always tell my clients, veggies are free. 

Get out – Find ways to squeeze a little exercise into your busy holiday schedule. You may not have time to hit the gym but you can get off the bus two stops early or park a little farther from the mall and take a brisk walk. The same thinking applies to elevators. Get out a few floors from your destination and take the stairs. 

These tips will give you a little wiggle room if you indulge just a little during the holidays. But what happens if you overindulge? You know the feeling. It’s because your liver is working overtime to process the sugar, fats and alcohol. A late night will tax your body even further. 

Overindulgence remedy

When you wake up, squeeze half of a fresh lemon into a cup of warm water (I buy them by the bagful at Costco), then add ½ teaspoon of honey and ¼ teaspoon of ground turmeric. The lemon kick-starts your digestion and it provides additional help to your liver and kidneys after working all night to process what you ate the night before. Turmeric is excellent for calming the digestive system but be sure to check with your doctor first if you have diabetes or gallbladder issues, or if you are pregnant or nursing. 

You know you’re going to stray from your healthy-eating habits during the holidays. We all do it! Simply set realistic expectations for yourself and, with a little planning, you can quickly get back on track in 2015. 

Article written for Fresh Vancouver Magazine Issue 27 Nov/Dec 2014