We are heading into the time of year when temptation is hardest to resist. While our best intentions are to stay fit and healthy, it's a slippery slope when we loosen our customary regimen or food rules.
I've been there, where instead of resisting temptation, it's easier to say, "Okay, I'll just go for it now, and then I'll be 'good' after the holidays." The problem with this attitude is how difficult it can be to bounce back, especially once I've gone too far down that road to ruin.
That said, periodic indulgences should be encouraged. Patterns of deprivation always backfire; this is why most diets fail. What we deny ourselves builds up a lot of energy in the subconscious mind. And if something happens to tip the scale -- a high-pressure day at work, a family crisis, etc. -- this can lead to a complete collapse of one's determination.
This is because your subconscious mind is more than seven times stronger than your willpower. By allowing indulgences from time to time, you release that pressure as well as the unrealistic need to be perfect.
However, indulgences DO need to be tempered! I find that I always feel better -- physically, mentally and emotionally -- by putting some restraints around vacation and holiday eating
In natural wellness, we teach a concept called "non-negotiable," where we label a behavior or food as something that we sense is causing us problems -- and we know that until we either eliminate those (things) or put some boundaries around them, we can't really progress. A tool that will make your holiday a lot less taxing on your body is to name a few consumables non-negotiable.
Here are some tips that can help you cope with holiday events -- and the temptations they present -- this season:
1. Determine what to label "non-negotiable."
Start by creating an image in your mind of a typical holiday meal or event, with the array of the traditional treats and dishes that your family or colleagues usually make available. Think about all of the foods that you look forward to enjoying in the season and be honest with yourself about how they make you feel a few hours after eating. What would make you feel really deprived to miss? And what can you do without, or really should do without? Are you willing to name any of those non-negotiable -- at least for the holiday period?
2. Give your body some easy-to-assimilate nutrition before facing temptation.
Eat some fruit a couple of hours before a main meal or a party. The sugars in fruit are simple to digest and help decrease cravings for heavy carbohydrates and sugar-laden treats. If you provide some easy-to-absorb nutrition to your body, you are not likely to feel as hungry later on.
3. Drink liquid before a meal.
Have a glass of water or seltzer about a half hour before your meal. In a study by Health.com it is reported that drinking water before a meal helps fill your stomach, making you less hungry and less likely to overeat.
4. Practice better food combining.
Part of the reason we feel so miserable after a huge holiday meal is that we ingest a whole lot of macronutrients (proteins, fats, carbohydrates, heavy starches) all at once. If you are craving meat, poultry or fish, have it with salad and veggies but no starch (rice, stuffing, potatoes, corn, beets). If you prefer the starch, mix that with green veggies and salad. "According to the rules of food combination, you do not want to mix proteins and starches in the same meal," as stated in an article by Dr. Mercola. Your stomach will thank you -- you will avoid that bloated feeling and not have to loosen your pants!
For a healthy indulgence consider having a second meal a few hours later and then you can switch it out and enjoy what you "denied" yourself before.
5. Have a cup of herb tea.
After dinner have a cup of hot herb tea instead of diving right into dessert. Try peppermint, chamomile, lemon balm or lavender teas, which can relax you and help digest your meal.
6. Take a break before dessert.
Go out and get some air -- maybe play with the kids or take a walk around the neighborhood before dessert. This gives the main meal a chance to settle and gets you up and moving (and bonding)!
7. Start out with small portions of dessert or treats.
Having some dessert is fine as long as you wait about an hour after your meal, so as not to overload the digestive process. Start with a small portion and enjoy it with a second cup of herb or decaffeinated tea.