Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas were meant to be one day each, not a continuous season that starts in the middle of October and goes through New Year’s Day. I know, it’s easy to get caught up in the holiday spirit, but we cannot mindlessly eat for two and a half months. As we enter this season, I ask you to pause and think about why you are gaining weight over the holidays and how you are going to replace the association between food and the holiday spirit. We need to focus on not making the whole season about food. It’s OK to put up your tree before Thanksgiving and watch Hallmark movies starting in October. If you are someone who knits or crochets, I recommend doing this activity while watching TV. It will keep your hands busy and you will be less likely to snack. It is also helpful if you can watch your TV program without commercials as they are often associated with foods that may trigger hunger. Now I do understand that you need to eat during the holiday season. Plan a great winter meal of chili, a roast, stuffed cabbage, or beef stew—something that gives you those holiday warm fuzzies without causing you to gain weight.
After dinner I enjoy wearing my cozy, festive pajamas and fluffy socks. I will cuddle up next to the Christmas tree with my favorite cup of holiday spiced hot tea. However, depending on the day, a shot of brandy may be added to my tea. My family starts Thanksgiving Day by participating in a turkey trot race. I love the winter weather and it can be so refreshing to get out and run in the cold! You don’t have to be a seasoned athlete to compete in this race. In fact, we tend to divide and conquer. Those of us that are competitive will race while others will push the little kids in a stroller. Everyone participates—from the grandparents to the two-year-olds. Then once it’s time to sit down at the Thanksgiving table, try and be mindful and start with turkey and a vegetable. My favorite is brussel sprouts. It is still OK to taste everything at the table and end with a piece of pumpkin pie. One day does not cause the ten-pound weight gain so many of us accumulate during the holiday season. Don’t deprive yourself during this one meal—it’s OK to enjoy food on special occasions. Black Friday then starts the marathon toward Christmas. Try some new family traditions, such as ice skating or attending Christmas markets.
Not everything has to be food-related. You also don’t need to keep trigger foods in your house all holiday season. If someone graciously brings you homemade baked goods, you can enjoy one small serving and then take them to work. If you work from home, give them to your spouse to take to work. Don’t start baking Grandma’s special Christmas cookies until the day before Christmas. Make dessert baking something you do on Christmas Eve and throw all the leftovers away on December 26th. The holiday season needs to be about enjoying family and friends. It will take some soul searching to figure out how to replace food with other aspects of the season you enjoy. Be mindful going into the season and you will be successful with not gaining weight. You got this!