The holidays are such a happy, joyful, and sometimes busy/stressful time. When you're having health issues or GI symptoms, or even have big health goals that you are working towards, the holidays can also bring on an altogether different kind of stress. My wish for you is that you are able to thoroughly enjoy the holiday season, whatever that looks like for you, without the fear of undoing the hard work you've put in over the past few months. While I believe and teach that the #1 role of food is to nourish our bodies to be able to do all of the wonderful things we want to do. But food is also a part of our social culture and is meant to be enjoyed. So, here are my top 5 tips for you as we head into this time:
1. Fully understand the risks and benefits of eating different foods
Say Granny's apple pie is your *all-time favorite* that you only get once every 2 years when you get to be with her for Christmas... and this is that year (or it would be, and she's dropping the pie off on your porch due to COVID-19-- just go with it for a minute). But also say you now know you struggle with gluten, have been on the elimination phase of the low-FODMAP diet (apples are high in FODMAPS), or have learned that you really struggle with tapping the brakes around sweets and are likely to over-indulge. What to do? Weigh the possible risks and benefits.
What's the worst possible thing or even 2-3 things that could happen if you ate some of the apple pie? How does that make you feel?
Now, flip that thought - what would it feel like if you politely said no thank you? Would you be able to and still enjoy the holiday to its fullest and not give the pie another thought? Would it cause you to feel deprived and sad, or over-indulge on other holiday treats?
Only you can decide if eating something that you normally stay away from is worth it to you or not. Think through these situations before you're faced with them, and have peace and confidence in your choice.
2. Listen to your body
Follow your body's intuitive wisdom. Eat slowly, and thoroughly enjoy each bite. Notice all the subtle flavor notes and appreciate them entirely. Then, when your body is satisfied - your stomach is comfortably full, the most recent bite didn't have quite as much deliciousness as the ones before, put your fork down and move along to the next activity.
3. Enjoy the holiday in different ways besides food
Food gets SO much attention in our culture around the holidays. But whenever, I think about holidays with family, yes food is a part of it -- but I remember the laughter and time together so much more. What are some other traditional (or new!) activities you can enjoy with people you are surrounded by? A game, a walk outside, conversation at sunset, a fire pit, or even a dance party - there is so much opportunity this season that doesn't involve food. Make a list of some of your favorites before the holidays to make sure you get them all in!
4. Hydration is key
Whether you are indulging in foods that aren't a normal part of your rotation, traveling away from home, or aren't getting the sleep you're used to, good hydration can help to offset some of these other activities. And it's something that you can control, even if you aren't making all of the food choices.
5. Get back into your groove
I'm all about living life to the fullest and thoroughly enjoying the holidays - even if that means eating foods that I normally wouldn't choose. How do I stay on track toward my long-term goals? I enjoy the holidays by following these steps that I've outlined...and then I have a game plan to get back on track. Before the holidays come, I choose what day I am back in charge of meal planning, cooking, grocery shopping, etc. This is so key to getting back into a routine after the holidays vs. letting it derail you for the next month. So take a look at your calendar and holiday plans - what days will you be celebrating and indulging? What days are you sticking with your normal routine? When will you grocery shop, cook, etc.? Having a plan is crucial to long-term success.
Do you have more holiday tips to staying on track? I would love to hear them!