Heading into the holidays, so many patients at Health Over All ask me the same question: Is it OK to cheat on my diet?
My healthy holiday tips will help you glide through the holiday season and stay sane around food.
Starting in November, I often hear the same thing from many of our patients: “If I’ve been focused on cutting out gluten, dairy, or sugar, and am finally seeing progress when it comes to my weight, digestion, sleep, or energy, will it ruin everything if I throw it all out the window over the holidays?”
In short, the answer is no. ONE day of indulging won’t ruin everything. But here’s what you might want to consider before reaching for the treats, and my favourite healthy holiday tips.
If you’re doing an elimination diet or avoiding food sensitivities…
If you are on an elimination diet to discover how food sensitivities affect you, almost perfect should be your goal. That’s because antibodies to foods take as long as 4-6 weeks to leave your system after you stop eating them, so if you’re trying to judge how a food affects you, stay away from it as close to 100% as you can for one month. Minimum! Seeing how your body feels in the total absence of that food for at least 4 weeks is essential.
If you’re trying to stay healthy over the holidays…
If you’re not doing an elimination diet but know that you don’t do well when you let the guardrails down around your eating habits, that’s OK too. Not all is lost if you have a “bad day.” The people who recover the most quickly from the holidays are the ones who go in with a plan. These are my top healthy holiday tips to make it through any occasion without totally derailing your healthy eating:
1. REACH FOR GREENS.
Fill at least HALF of your plate with a green veggies, like green beans, broccoli or Brussels sprouts. If you don’t think there will be a healthy veggie side dish where you’re headed for the holidays, volunteer to bring one!
2. CHOOSE one CARB.
Instead of going wild on every carb-heavy dish at the table, pick your favorite. This strategy will help you keep from overdoing it on carbs and ensure that you’re truly enjoying what you do choose. Remember to eat slow and savor every bite.
3. LOAD UP ON PROTEIN.
Whatever protein is being served will be your secret weapon for not going overboard on sugar later. Stick with a portion about the size of the palm of your hand. Protein helps to balance your blood sugar and ease cravings, so you won’t be tempted to double down on dessert.
4. Don’t vs. Cant
Watch your language when discussing food. It is much more empowering and your chances of success increase when you swap the work can’t for don’t. Try it! “I don’t eat dairy” feels much different than “I can’t eat dairy”.
Dr. Jordin Wiggins