13 Dec 13 Ways to Save the Holidays
“Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer
Cannot fit in any clothes!
He eats so many goodies
You can see his belly grow!”
The holiday season is fun! People are nicer to each other, there are great lights and decorations everywhere, and somehow everything just seems to smell good. No wonder so many people consider it the very best time of year.
But I’ve got to be real. The holidays are also HARD. I recently read through an article that discussed the difficulties of staying sober this time of year after overcoming alcoholism, and a lot of the same principles apply to beating food addiction. The holidays are prime for relapses, what with all the parties and treats delivered right to your door. However, speaking as a former food addict, I know it’s possible to enjoy this time of year without falling back into old habits.
Here are a few ideas you can rely on over the next few weeks. I’ve adapted them from the article mentioned above because, although alcoholism and food addiction have distinct differences, the tips to rise above temptation are very applicable. Put them into practice, let us know how they work out for you, and have a wonderful holiday season!
It’s very important to be honest with yourself about what you can or cannot handle. If you’re invited to a party with lots of food that will lead to a binge, ask yourself if you have the strength to stay away from the refreshment table. If you know the parties or people will be triggers for you, perhaps you should try to make other plans.
Invite a fellow healthy eater.
One of the most helpful ways to stay strong is inviting someone who’s in the same situation as you. If you don’t want to seem like the only person without a plate of bread pudding at the office Christmas party, stick with someone who has the same goals as you. You’ll help each other resist the urge to give in and find ways to have fun without food.
Say no to your triggers.
Triggers come in many forms. They can be places, people, even certain songs. Addicts aren’t the only ones who deal with them either. Those who have dealt with an eating disorder or who have an unhealthy relationship with food in general can easily be sent into a tailspin when they encounter a trigger.
The key is to identify what your particular triggers will be and say NO. Don’t feel like you have to go to the annual pie party that you know will throw off months of hard works. Just because you don’t go one year doesn’t mean you have to ditch it forever though. When you get to a better place mentally, emotionally, and physically, you’ll be better prepared to deal with triggers. At that point, go back to the pie party! Until then, put your health first and decline damaging invitations at all costs.
Reach out for help.
Recognize that you might be feeling seriously vulnerable, so if you start to get uncomfortable in a situation and feel you might slip back into old habits, call someone who you trust for support. Make sure it’s someone who knows how much hard work you’ve invested in your health and can remind you.
An even better idea is to let your person know that you’re going somewhere where there might be temptation. That way, you’ll know that someone will be following-up and holding you accountable when you return home.
Learn to say no.
Even if it makes you feel a little silly, look in the mirror and practice saying no a few times before you leave the house. Come up with reasons to decline when people offer you food that’s not in line with your goals. I’d never advocate dishonesty, but, full disclosure, I’ve definitely told a white lie or two to get out of an uncomfortable situation. No, I’m not actually lactose intolerant, but if it gets a pushy date to stop offering ice cream, you bet I am for the night.
If you’re not cool with that, then feel free to say no and explain why. Tell people that you’ve decided to put your health first and treat your body right. It will take a lot of courage, but saying no is totally worth it!
Keep a safety option nearby.
Grab a cup of water or a plate of veggies on your way in. If you’ve got something in your hand, it’s much less likely that you’ll be offered an unhealthy treat. Make sure you know what your best options are at whatever event you might attend so that you know what to turn to if the temptation gets too strong.
Keep your distance.
Putting as much space between yourself and the refreshment table is a smart choice. Creating physical barriers decreases your access to gingerbread men and canes, which means they’re easier to resist! Find a group of people to chat with FAR AWAY from the snacks and you won’t even miss those goodies!
Make a break for it.
If you need to, drive your own car to the party so that you have a way to leave if you need to. When the temptation gets to be too much, figure out a way to get the heck out of there. Leaving a party early is worth it if it means avoiding a binge or a relapse.
Don’t freak out.
Guess what? Sometimes mess ups happen. Sometimes you cave and accept a cup of eggnog. That does NOT mean that you’ve ruined the night and might as well eat anything and everything in sight. No way! When you make a mistake, give yourself a minute to reassess your goals, push away the guilt and anxiety, and commit to do your best for the rest of the day.
Don’t forget your “why”.
I find that it helps a lot to remind yourself frequently why you’ve made a commitment to change in the first place. Maybe you want to have more energy to play with your kids, you want to get in shape to run a marathon, or you’re just ready to look good in a bathing suit again. Whatever your reasons might be, write them down on a small card and keep it in your wallet. Pull out the card whenever you feel like giving up for an extra boost of strength.
Care for yourself.
The holidays can be stressful in general, and more so if you’re trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Do your best to take care of yourself mentally, physically, and emotionally. That means taking the time to read a book or solve a puzzle, practice some restorative yoga, or talk with a therapist or trusted friend if you’re feeling upset. Balancing all aspects of your life will give you the best chance at success.
Throw your own party.
If you don’t want the risk of diet-breaking food at someone’s party, take a risk and throw your own! Use it as a great excuse to try new low-glycemic recipes or invite your guests to bring their favorite healthy holiday treat. Make the focus of the gathering a celebration with friends instead of food. After all, relationships last even longer than fruitcake.
Celebrate when you win.
Small victories pave the road to big ones, so be sure to congratulate yourself on the little things! Notice all the times you don’t give in to your cravings and celebrate when you do make healthy choices. Heck, even treat yourself to a celebratory sing-along in the car on the way home. A little self-love goes a long way!
Long post short, you can do it. You can make it through—even love—this time of year and all that it brings. You don’t have to take hard things on all by yourself, so lean on your Prolean family this year. We’ve got this!
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
– Prolean Wellness