It can be enough of a challenge to stick to your health goals during an uneventful week, but this time of year it is often especially difficult to stay on track. Between getting ready for the holidays, family gatherings, New Years parties, and being in an overall state of elevated stress, making the effort to take care of your health may not take the priority that it usually does. Especially when it feels as if you are surrounded by people who are not concerned with good nutrition.
Here are some ideas of what you can do to get through the next couple of weeks:
Always bring a nutritious dish or two to parties or gatherings. By doing so, you will help alleviate some of the stress associated with being surrounded by the unhealthy options that are usually offered at parties. People feel less threatened if healthy food is added versus taking away their customary foods. Plus your host or hostess will be pleased that you brought something to share!
Volunteer to help out with the food preparation. If you are going home for the holidays and your mother typically cooks with oils and opts for refined grains and lots of meats, try offering your help in the kitchen. Take a trip to the grocery store to purchase fresh produce and create a nice salad or roast some vegetables. You can even use the opportunity of being in the kitchen with your family to teach them about the importance of healthy eating.
At restaurants don't be pressured to order a large unhealthy meal if that is what everybody else is doing. If the rest of the table is ordering fried chicken with buttery mashed potatoes and all you would really like is a salad and a baked sweet potato, don't feel the need to follow the crowd. People may ask about your decision but there is also a good chance that they will not even notice. Don't feel as if you need to defend your choices, simply explain to them why you chose what you did from the menu. Lead by example rather than preach about healthy eating.
No matter what, stick to your beliefs. Some people feel that it's impolite to refuse food that is offered to them. Don't eat something just because you think that it will please somebody else if you are only going to feel bad about it later. You can politely refuse the food by saying how it looks wonderful but you are not hungry or even just say no thank you and leave it at that. If pressed further don't be ashamed to say that you have been working hard at losing weight but you appreciate the offering.
Keep the big picture in focus. While it's not a good idea to totally let loose and indulge in unlimited amounts of sweets and treats, it's also not healthy to let yourself become so anxious about being perfect with your eating. Small portions of treats that you truly enjoy are okay! Remember, it's not the time between Christmas and New Years that you need to worry about; it's the time between New Years and next Christmas that will have a much larger impact on your success.
Corinne Goff is a Registered Dietitian who is absolutely passionate about food, health, and nutrition. Corinne has a BA in Psychology from Salve Regina University and a BS in Nutrition from the University of Rhode Island. As a nutritionist, her objective is to help people reach their health goals by offering a personalized holistic approach to wellness that incorporates natural foods and lifestyle changes. She works together with her clients to develop daily improvements that they feel comfortable with and that are realistic. She believes that the focus on wholesome, nutrient-rich, real food, is the greatest possible way to become healthier, have more energy, decrease chances of chronic disease, and feel your best. For more information, please visit her website at RI Nutrition Housecalls.com.