Thriving Through the Holidays

The holidays are often a time of family gatherings … and if your family is anything like mine, food is the centerpiece.  With traditions and holiday favorite foods that often only show up at this time of year, it can be challenging to navigate the table while staying on your chosen dietary path.  Today, I want to share some of my top strategies for enjoying Thanksgiving and the upcoming holiday season without feeling left out, put out, or pigged out!

#1 Decide on your game plan ahead of time.

Before you arrive at the table, think ahead to set your intention for the day.  For a big event, like Thanksgiving dinner, I like to think about this days – or even weeks – out.  How will you make sure your needs are met?  Will there be food options that will work for you?  This may take some advanced planning and coordinating with the cook to find out more about what will be served.What are your food guidelines and goals for the day?  If there are certain foods that you want to avoid, you can think about which dishes may include those ingredients ahead of time.  If one of your favorite dishes includes ingredients that don’t work for you, you’ll have a chance to plan an alternative.And, pre-planning your indulgences will allow you to relax and enjoy your grandma’s pumpkin pie, without feeling guilty.  If you typically find yourself overstuffed and in a food coma after eating, you can think about your appetite as a budget.  How much do you want to spend on appetizers, entrees, and dessert?

#2 Eat the best and leave the rest. 
Part of what makes the holidays special is enjoying foods that only come around once a year.  Most of us have a few favorite dishes that we look forward to, and the rest are just filler.  You don’t have to deny yourself your favorite foods.  Instead, skip out on the dishes that aren’t your favorites — especially if they’re off your dietary path.If you want to try everything, make sure you take tiny portions.  You can sample each dish and then skip the ones that you aren’t crazy about.  This isn’t the clean plate club!  Then, you can go back for seconds of the stuff you really love.

#3 Be in charge of YOU.
Don’t feel like you have to try every dish just because it’s on the table, on your plate, you paid for it, or you’re afraid of offending your mother-in-law.  You are in charge of what foods you eat, and you get to make choices that support you.  So, be cautious of feeling obligated — it’s usually your cue that you’re making a choice that doesn’t feel good to you.  If you’re afraid of offending someone, you can always ask for a small amount to take home for another meal OR ask for the recipe.

#4 Bring a healthy dish!
I always suggest letting the cook or host know about your dietary preferences in advance.  To avoid feeling like you’re putting them out, offer to bring a dish! This way, even if you’re not sure whether there will be enough food options that are in line with your preferences, you’ll have a delicious option to fill your plate.  This is a great way to balance out heavier meals and share a healthy option with those that you love.  But remember, healthy doesn’t have to be boring!  Have fun with it and explore the recipes for inspiration.

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