Don’t Let the Holidays Derail Your Diet

Here’s the perfect recipe for healthy holiday eating!

Many Americans struggle with their weight—and almost everyone goes off their healthy eating plan during the holidays. After all, who can resist stuffing with gravy, pie a la mode, and a cup or two of egg nog? Moreover, the additional busy-ness of the holidays can make fast food that much more appealing—for the convenience, if nothing else.

Nevertheless, I believe that the holidays can actually be a boost to a healthy “whole life” diet and here’s why: During the holidays we’re more likely to share a meal or more with people we love. We might even prepare those meals together. Being surrounded by friends and family decreases stress and increases release of oxytocin, the bonding hormone. As a result, holiday eating can feed us on many levels at once.

Here’s my simple recipe for healthy eating this holiday season:

#1. Consider adopting a “whole life” diet. In other words, make healthy eating a part of an overall commitment to better self-care that includes adequate exercise and sleep, stress reduction, and healthy eating.

#2. Rather than subtracting foods from your diet, think about adding healthy ones. In particular focus on feeding your cellular membranes and maintaining optimal levels of cellular water through a diet rich in fresh vegetables and fruits, as well as embryonic foods such as eggs, nuts, and seeds. Identify your favorites and make sure to fill up on plenty of them when serving yourself at mealtime. Personally, at this time of year I love cooked greens, winter squash, sweet potatoes, Brussel sprouts, pomegranates, pears, eggs, avocadoes, and all kinds of seeds and nuts.

#3. Follow your meal plan 80% of the time and “let yourself go” the other 20%. This should leave you plenty of opportunity for guilt-free holiday indulgences.

#4. Enjoy meals with others. When we share a meal with others we’re feeding ourselves emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, and physically.

#5. Remember, food is medicine…or poison. Eat your medicine! When you feed yourself healthy food, you give your body what it needs to repair, regenerate, and take care of you. When you feed it junk, you give it more work to do to function optimally.

#6. Make your presence the present. I’ve found that my female clients, in particular, tend to overdo for the holidays, weighing themselves down with expectations to be the perfect holiday hostess—with all the home decorating, meal planning and preparation, gift-buying and wrapping, and entertaining that implies. But what if the gift your friends and family members most wanted was just a little quality time with you? Make your presence your gift to them, and let their presence be their gift to you. Take a deep breath, relax, and enjoy.

#7. Be imperfect; live longer. No one lives life “perfectly.” If you “mess up”—by your own definition—during the holidays, forgive yourself and start over. It’s never too late to adopt your own personal “whole life” diet—one that works for the unique, creative individual that is you.

For more information on adopting a whole life diet, read my little book Help! My Diet Is a Mess! You’ll also find recipes for delicious, water-rich meals in Conquering Cultural Stress.

To your health and the holidays!


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