You're used to do doing your own meal prep, eating bright and happy foods, and recognizing when you're full, but how do you adapt your food and drink choices while visiting family? There are so many tempting options! The winter holidays are upon us and it can really throw a wrench in your routine with yummy treats and decadent meals.
But does it have to be this way? Of course not.
The reality is, it's easier to make healthy food choices at home where you have more creative control and are less tempted to overeat when being social. Being "healthy" doesn't mean you're super strict. It means you can go with the flow, do you best with the food and drinks items at hand, or better yet, do a little planning ahead of time.
Let's start with two ways you can be prepared before you even head out the door.
Ok, it all starts with mindset. Know and accept that you won't be able follow through on your normal eating habits while not in your own home, although you are more likely if you're the one hosting. Food + drink are beautiful elements of coming together! It's a time to celebrate the arrival of winter, being with loved ones, and food + drink are simply a part of the equation. No need to go overboard but enjoy yourself (more on this below).
Anticipating what meals, drinks, and company you'll be encountering is great to visualize ahead of time. If you're not sure what the in-laws might cook up, give a call and ask to help while also getting a peak into the options. Maybe it means you eat a small meal ahead of time to have a good base of nutrition or you're able to add an additional meal. Either way, practice not being caught off guard or being surprised.
Once you're at the gathering, here are 5 ways you can eat and drink in a balanced way once you've shown up.
Pour yourself a glass of water upon arrival - Before you go for a glass of anything else, hydrate your body. It's easy to misread hunger for actual thirst. This can also curb salt, sugar, and fat cravings.
Limit appetizers - Snacking before a big meal dilutes your digestive juices and in many ways ruins your appetite for the foods you're most excited for. It's best to not make a plate of appetizers and try not stand right over all the food. Mingle, chat, walk around, help in the kitchen, play with the kids, play DJ, or start a game and get really excited for the main meal.
Sip your cocktail/wine with the main meal - Yes, I'm a wellness coach and drink alcohol. I don't think it's any secret by now but I do pick and choose when and how much I'll have. On average, I feel pretty shitty if I have more than two drinks in a day but notice I feel better (and the drink actually tastes better) with the meal. Consider tasty, non-alcoholic beverages, too!
Set aside half of your plate with veggies - Dinner isn't an ideal time to load up on seconds and thirds (that's for lunch). Our bodies can't digest heavy, large meals well after 6pm. This is where energy goes down. Consider eating more veggies with dinner to feel like less of zombie after the meal. Worried there may not be great veggie options? Bring a dish to pass that is loaded with plant-protein, leafy greens, and minerals. I love this quinoa sushi salad as a great option.
Enjoy the company! - Swirling emotions and unhealthy habits can get triggered at gatherings. Hang out with those who make you feel grounded, safe, and happy. Even ask (and give) a wee bit of accountability. "Hey, I'm not going to get seconds, I just wanted to tell someone. Let me know if I can support you with something." Embrace the scene. Sit back and savor being with loved ones. Become full and connected with the company.