The holidays bring with them an abundance of festivities centered around eating and drinking. And, not to play Scrooge, but much of our favorite holiday fare sits atop the list of those opiate-like "trigger foods." These foods fall in the "naughty" category because they set off chemicals in the brain that make us want to gorge ourselves -- like sugar, alcohol, cheese and refined carbohydrates (think breads and cookies). They trigger an eat-fest in your brain that can pack on unwanted pounds.
Yes, the holidays bring up nostalgia for all the goodies served through the season -- pies, cookies, eggnog and the like -- but with a good plan, you can become mentally fortified and still fit into those skinny jeans.
Here are nine tips to get you through the holidays and still fitting in your jeans on New Year's Eve!
Before you head out to any of your holiday parties or family fiestas, make an eating plan. Look at all the events you have lined up for the week and decide how many times during the week you choose to indulge.
You may decide that this week you will have three drinks, two desserts, and a couple of chunks of cheese. Then divide it up over the number of events for the week.
Before you leave your home, on the way to the party, and as soon as you arrive, drink lots of water! It will fill you up and prevent you from overeating.
We often mistake thirst for hunger, making us eat more. Also, when we start drinking alcohol, we forget to drink water and wake up with an awful dehydration headache!
You don't want to arrive at an event starving and reaching for everything in your path. When you curb your appetite beforehand with a healthy snack, you are able to make better choices at the banquet table, taking smaller portions and only sampling what looks especially appetizing.
Social anxiety is at its peak for many at events with family and friends. No, you are not the only one!
Rather than hitting the bar, try some deep breathing. You will find you are more relaxed, mindful, and more approachable.
The holiday season is all about connecting with friends and family, not the food. Fill your plate with nourishing conversations, delicious hugs, and sweet sentiments. You will be feeling so full, you may actually not need to eat much at all.
Although these little bite-size nuggets of yumminess make our eyes and lips very happy, they do very little for our hungry bellies. Skip the appetizers and enjoy a real meal full of lots of protein and veggies. You will feel more satisfied and less hungry when dessert rolls around.
How many of you eat at the holidays out of tradition rather than enjoyment? Do you feel like it can't be Thanksgiving without the stuffing? Christmas without the eggnog? Ask yourself whether you really enjoy these are foods, or are you only eating them out of nostalgia.
Similarly, do you habitually go back for seconds at the holiday feast? Pause and check in with yourself to see if you're really still hungry or if there's something else behind that holiday gorging?
By this point in the evening, you may have had a cocktail or two and drinking more water in between is really important for all the reasons listed above!
Go to the restroom or get some fresh air while dessert is being served. It won't look as good after it has been attacked.
If you want it, and it is part of your plan, wait until it is almost gone before taking a plate so there is less available for seconds. Another option is to put some dessert in a little bag and take it home with you.
Lisa Lewtan is a Healthy Living Strategist and founder of Healthy, Happy, and Hip, which provides one-on-one coaching, workshops, retreats, and support groups for clients. Her new book, Busy, Stressed, and Food Obsessed (2015) provides tools to help highly successful Superwomen to slow down, chill out, develop a better relationship with food, and feel great. Her articles have been featured in numerous publications, including The Huffington Post, Better After 50, and MindBodyGreen. Learn more at www.HealthyHappyandHip.com.