13 Ways to Enjoy the Holidays and Eat without Regrets
Here's how to enjoy the holidays with family and friends without feeling like a failure for not sticking to your plans.
Have you ever felt like a failure because you broke your diet at a social gathering, especially during the holidays?
If you've ever tried to get in shape, I'm pretty sure you have.
You are not alone. This is very common, and it happens to all of us in one way or another.
Is it possible to enjoy the holidays and share the most delicious meals with your family and friends?
Yes, it is, and here are 13 tips for you to experiment with.
1) eat mindfully
The holiday season is a fantastic time to enjoy with family and friends.
So, what can you do if you feel like having your favourite grandma's cake for dessert? I say, go for it. Just slow down, relax, and eat it very slowly.
Savour each bite that you make. Is it sweet? How sweet? What's the texture like? Crunchy, soft, hard, smooth?
Take a deep breath between bites, or have a sip of water. Enjoy the experience of the moment. Be present. Pay attention to that delicious meal.
Eat until you feel satiated. Not full, not hungry, but satisfied. Then stop. Have a drink and enjoy the company of your loved ones.
2) plan ahead
A party or family gathering usually requires some planning. Who's coming, who's not? Where are we meeting? When? What are we going to be having for lunch/dinner?
The bigger the event, the more planning is usually needed. So, make the most of this. Plan to your advantage.
In my family, for example, each member cooks and prepares a meal to share (ok, more than one 🙂 ). This makes it possible for me (or my wife - let's be honest) to prepare a "healthier" option to share.
Use your planning skills to give your future self the best chance of succeeding.
Benjamin Franklin once said, "if you fail to plan, you plan to fail." So, anticipate, plan, strategize.
3) apply the 80-20 rule
The Pareto principle, also known as the 80-20 rule, states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.
Interestingly enough, this principle applies to wealth distribution, population of cities, mass of stars and planets, and even to the frequency of words utilised in a language. It's also used in economics, computer design, sports and psychology.
So, you can use this principle to eat better during 80% of the time, and keep the other 20% to enjoy whatever foods you want.
Truth is, if you want to stick to your plans long-term, it's always better to avoid external rules. Instead, experience shows that developing your internal locus of control (ie, your own values and priorities) provides the best chances of success.
4) practice nutrient displacement
One other strategy available to you is to practice nutrient displacement. In other words, choose the better option first.
For example, you could server yourself a fist of colourful veggies and a palm of protein and have that first. This way, not only will you get proper nutrition, but you'll also feel satisfied, reducing the chances of overeating.
At the same time, you'll reduce the chances of getting stuck in the overeating-regret cycle later on.
5) you have the control
Choosing what goes into our mouths might be the thing we have the most control over in our lives. No one can make you eat something you don't want.
Achieving your goals have nothing to do with "surviving". Instead, they have all to do with "responsibility".
You are as free to choose what you want to eat as what you don't want to eat. It's 100% your choice to eat everything you've served yourself or leave some food on the plate.
No one can make you overeat. Yes, not even grandma who's only way to display love seems to be through food.
It's your responsibility, and you have the control. I know you can do it.
6) say "no"... politely
What if "grandma" insists in shoving food down your throat?
Social pressure is real. Whether it's your grandma, untie or any other person offering you some food, you may find yourself in an uncomfortable situation if you want to decline.
If you accept, your midsection will pay you back by reminding you what a bad decision you made every time you try to wear the skinny jeans. If you don't, you may feel like you'll hurt their feelings.
So, an excellent way to reject unwanted food is to say something like, "Wow! It does look delicious! You must have put a lot of effort to make it, but to be honest, I'm pretty full right now. So, I'll leave it for another time, thanks!"
This way, you appreciate the effort they've put into making the meal, and you acknowledge that it looks delicious. At the same time, you are sticking to your guns and making your future self's life much easier!
Take the whole experience of enjoying food, drinks and people you love as if it was a game.
Imagine that whenever you consciously make a better food choice you increase your "skills" and "experience" or you get more "points". After you reach a certain number of points, you may move up to the "next level" in the game.
The options are only limited by your imagination.
Give it a go and see what happens. Don't take life too seriously. Play with it!
8) find a buddy
One strategy that works well is accountability.
Find someone with similar goals to yours, who are also spending their holidays with you. Together, you can plan in advance to keep working toward your goals during the parties and celebrations.
Having someone, whether it's a friend or a coach, to help you stay consistent during tough times works wonders. In fact, it might be the best thing you could do. It's changed my life and that of many others.
9) drink enough water
We all know how important it is to stay hydrated. The problem is, when we are having a good time with friends and family, it's not difficult to forget to have a sip of water.
So, be aware of this fact, and plan in advance to see how you can make sure you'll be drinking enough water during the holiday season.
Something I recommend to my clients, is to carry a water bottle with them during the day. Modifying our environment usually works wonders.
10) enjoy fruits
Fruits are the most natural dessert you could ever get. Not only are they sweet and yummy, but they are also rich in nutrients. A fruit salad is a much better option than any packaged eatable product you could ever buy.
I know you know.
So, is there anything you could do to have some fruits available during particular events?
Plan, anticipate and strategize. That's the formula to success.
11) don't eat what you don't like
Many times, I found myself eating things that I didn't want, for the only reason they "happened to be there."
Don't make that mistake. Don't eat what you don't like!
Be a picky eater, choose carefully and eat mindfully. You are worth a lot. You deserve to eat the best you can.
12) sleep enough
Sleep quality and quantity are essential not only to drop body fat but also to keep a well-functioning and healthy body.
Studies show that staying awake for as less as one night can get you as insulin resistant as a diabetic. It's paramount to be aware of this fact and to plan accordingly.
There are many options at your disposal. One of them can be to use the 80-20 rule and get proper sleep around the "all-nighter" event. Reduce the impact and give yourself the best chance of success.
13) enjoy (and reduce the stress)
Lastly but not least, enjoy!
Don't let anxiety creep in during the festive season. Stress is one of the reasons why many of us struggle to lose weight nowadays.
What's the point of life if we don't enjoy the process? Relax and enjoy the time with friends and family. Be present.
And there you have it: 13 ways to enjoy the holidays and eat without regret.
Have any of these tips resonated with you? Have you used any of them? Can you think of other strategies to use during challenging situations? Let me know in the comment section!
I hope you find any of these tips useful, so you keep progressing towards a better body and health.
I wish you a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.
- Coach Luciano