Stay Sane Around Food This Holiday Season: 4 Secrets You Won't Hear Anywhere Else

Thanksgiving is right around the corner. That means you're only days away from piles of creamy mashed potatoes, towers of fresh baked rolls, and seven types of pie right before your eyes, all of which are calling to you, begging to be eaten.

And right alongside all that deliciousness? Your mother making digs about your love life, your younger brother asking to borrow money, your kids screaming at each other, your pants digging uncomfortably into your stomach, and your vow to stick to only once slice of pumpkin cheesecake, out the window.

The holidays: they can be a teensy bit overwhelming, am I right?

And even if you don't celebrate Thanksgiving, you're bound to be heading into a season filled with eggnog, fruit cake, booze, work parties, family obligations, and holiday stress.

What if you could start the season of festivity feeling like you had your sh*t together? What if you could easily say "no" to that last minute pain-in-the-butt request from your book club? What if it felt effortless to turn down those stale store-bought cookies sitting on the counter at work, since you know you're not going to enjoy them anyway?

This year can be different, and these four secrets will get you started.


Secret #1: Set Realistic Goals

Y'all, deciding to give up sugar or gluten or carbs or eating after 5:00 p.m. or to lose 10 pounds right now, as we head into the season of All That Is Delicious, is a terrible idea. A TERRIBLE IDEA. It will set you up for resentment, crazy thoughts, food obsession, and all manner of other food insanity.

Instead, try setting a realistic goal you'll actually be able to achieve. Challenge yourself to get up early a few days a week and do a workout in your basement. Or to eat a salad every day throughout the season. Or to meditate once a day. Or to journal every night. Or to limit yourself to one drink a day.

Whatever you choose, make sure it doesn't make you feel stressed, tense, or uptight. This is a season of wonderful once-a-year treats; don't try to white knuckle your way through the holidays eating only brown rice and salmon.

Secret #2: Enjoy What You Eat & Eat What You Enjoy

Thing one: You really should sit down and pay attention to your food. Preferably all the time, but especially during the holidays, when you're eating stuff that just isn't available the rest of the year. Don't miss out on the sweet and tangy note of the cranberry cherry cobbler because you're too busy worrying about how many calories it has. Don't miss out on the rich flavor of the deep fried turkey because you feel so guilty about eating high-fat food. And guess what? When you pay attention to and enjoy what you're eating, you need less of it to feel satisfied.

Thing two: Eat foods you actually want to eat. Don't eat celery sticks and whole grain crackers at the party if you really want to try the cheese ball and the Buche de Noel. Why? Because if you skip out on eating something you really want, you're going to go home and try to fill that void with whatever you can get your hands on -- stale cheese cubes, pretzels, leftover french fries, Halloween candy, you name it.

Enjoy the things you choose to eat and eat the things you'll really enjoy!

Secret #3: Give Yourself Permission

Only you know what you need to give yourself permission to do, and now is the time to give it. Permission to send out imperfect holiday cards? Permission to tell your mother-in-law no, you can't host her knitting club tomorrow night? Permission to skip a party you absolutely do not want to go to? Permission to feed your kids frozen meals three nights in a row so you can get all of your holiday shopping done?

Whatever it is, give yourself the go ahead! The holiday season is crazy enough without you adding even more to your list. Not sure what to give yourself permission to do? Follow this rule: If it makes you feel more relaxed, give yourself permission to do it, if it makes you feel like your head is going to explode, give yourself permission to not do it.

Secret #4: Let Go of Perfectionism

Yeah, I'm looking at you, Miss I-Pinned-The-Perfect-Holiday-Table-Decor-and-I'm-Getting-It-Exactly-Right-Even-If-It-Means-I-Can't-Sleep-for-a-Week.

You know what your new holiday motto ought to be? "It's good enough." Sure, it would be great if your kids all wore matching outfits, or your pie looked exactly like Martha's, or the table linens were ironed, but it really, truly doesn't matter. If there's one thing I've noticed, it's that women who struggle with food and body image stuff usually think they have to be perfect.

You don't. No one cares. People who do care and give you a hard time about it are not people you want front and center in your life. Trying to make everything perfect is just going to make you feel crazy and sad, and that just leads to stress eating and and overall sense of blah.

If these tips sound like exactly what you're looking for, join my 6 Week Healthy + Sane Holiday Challenge Group for even more great ideas!