Navigating the Holiday Table: 7 Strategies

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Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year, and it can be a nutritional minefield.  So much food, so many things we love, sometimes pressure to eat more than is comfortable.  How do you manage even before someone suggests you’re eating too much or not eating enough?  How do you manage yourself when it seems like a table FILLED with favorites.

First, decide whether you’re going to feast, moderate, or try to stay near or on your plan.  Decide before you go, and stick to your decision.    

Here are my 7 strategies for navigating a holiday table:

  1. Do a reconnaissance round of the food available– check out the table or buffet to see what’s there before putting anything on your plate.  Then you can decide in advance what you truly want.
  2. Eat ONLY what you like, and chew like you mean it.  If you love this food, then take time to enjoy it, savoring the flavors.  If you’re going to swallow it whole, you may as well be eating celery because you won’t notice the difference. 
  3. If you slow down enough to enjoy it, evaluate the flavor.  Do you still love it?  Or is it just a food you’ve always had?  The memory of how it tastes may be better than the reality.
  4. There will be foods that are not on your plan.  So choose for yourself.  Can you taste them without creating a binge?  If not, you may be wise to set up some safeguards.  If yes, then have it and don’t take any home with you.  It’s one day.  No beating up of self allowed.
  5. Focus on conversations and interactions.  The holidays truly are not just about food – they’re about spending time with the people who mean something to you.  The food is just the vehicle to drive the opportunity.  Focus on what’s important.
  6. Gratitude is a great practice.  If you eat for comfort or stress relief, then another way to soothe ourselves is by focusing on all those people, situations, experiences for which we are grateful.  It alters our perspective, which usually shifts our stress and fills our need for comfort.  See how that works?
  7. Accountability and Support.  Know what you need and create a structure of support.  Reaching physical and emotional health goals do not happen without making changes.  What do you need in order to make those changes and make them stick?

Consider which strategy or strategies will work best for you. 

Think about the last time you were in a tempting situation.  How might you have applied this, and what difference would it have made?  How might it make a difference for you at the next party?  At the next holiday?  Into next year?  In three years?  How can you utilize these for your best?

If you need a little help, don’t hesitate to contact me.

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