Published on November 8, 2016
Uh ohhhhh . . . they’re baaaack . . . the holidays! They come one after the other, in rapid fire: Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s Eve. How are you going to handle all the fattening foods and drinks that inevitably accompany every party, gathering or event?
Food is a big and wonderful part of the holiday tradition. From Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve we stuff our faces with Aunt Suzie’s famous pumpkin pie to Grandma Sylvia’s New York-style cheese cake. (Actually, let’s be honest: For many, it all starts with their kids’ Halloween candy!) Learning to deal with the mass quantities of fattening food doesn’t have to be difficult or painful. Instead, get to the root of the holiday munchies.
You CAN Take the Stress Away
Stress causes many people to overeat. This year, why not try cutting out a few of the more stressful holiday events? It is OK to say, “No.”
For instance, traveling during the holidays can cause extra stress that you don’t need. Perhaps you get anxious just at the thought of having to be at the airport several hours in advance just for the opportunity to put yourself through the passenger pat-down. Perhaps you get stomach cramps at the thought of having to pack the kids into the car in the middle of the night to avoid what would otherwise be bumper-to-bumper traffic. STOP. This year, put your foot down, and tell your relatives that you’re not going to travel.
Or maybe your stress is caused by having a gazillion people over to your house for dinner, either because that’s what you’ve always done, or that’s what everyone expects. STOP. This year, consider having a quiet dinner or suggest that it’s someone else’s turn to play host.
Spending too much on gifts can also be an unneeded stress, both in time and in dollars. STOP. This year, tell relatives and friends you’d like to cut down on gift giving this year. Just tell the plain truth: Money is tight and you can’t afford it. Instead, suggest a lower cost alternative, like trading homemade gifts or putting a limit on the gift cost or making a donation in their names to a charity. Or, tell everyone what you really want this gift-giving season is the gift of time: that you don’t want them to spend any time in the crowded mall shopping on your behalf, and you will be doing the same this year. You want time to chill, time to do absolutely nothing, except for putting your feet up and catching up on some books you’ve been wanting to read, or blocking out time for binge-watching all episodes of a show you missed on Netflix.
Whatever the source of your stress, nail it down and remove it . . . and throw the guilt out the window. You will feel relieved and happy with the control that you exert over the situation. It’s your choice to take the control. Don’t leave room for excuses. Don’t leave any doubt in anyone’s mind that you mean it.
You CAN Focus on Activities, Not Holiday Food
Go ice skating, window shop along Fifth Avenue or a “ritzy strip” in your home town, take a horse and buggy ride, go pumpkin picking or take a walk through a corn maze with your kids, or curl up in front of the fire place and begin reading that book that’s been sitting on your night stand for months. Start your own traditions. Instead of focusing on the baking and cooking traditions, make a new tradition surrounding an activity like decorating your own door wreath or, as a family, volunteering at a food bank.
You CAN Replace Some of Your High Calorie Holiday Foods With Low Calorie or Healthier Options
Replace cookies with tea biscuits or low-fat muffins, rich candies with fruit, apple pie with ambrosia, or ice cream with frozen yogurt pie.
You CAN Put Limits on What You Allow Yourself to Eat
What do you do when you just have to make the cookies or when a neighbor brings you a delicious fruit cake? Combat cookie munchies with a rule before you start baking: Allow yourself 1 cookie of each batch, and then give the rest away to family, friends, co-workers, your kids’ teachers. If you receive lots of baked goods as gifts, bring them to work or drop them off at your local fire house or police department; they’ll really appreciate it.
Going to a party?
You can adopt a new holiday philosophy this year that will change your life and your holiday eating habits: Take control.
Give up or replace a few of the holiday traditions. Whether stress inducing events or travel or grandma’s cheese cake, ask yourself out loud, “Do I really need it this year?” This will go a long way in keeping you healthy this holiday season, both physically and mentally. After all, once the Hanukkah menorah is packed away and the Christmas tree is at the curb, you don’t want to be left with five or ten pounds of holiday memory, now do you?