How to keep your (diet) sanity during the holidays!

holiday foodsYep, it’s here, Christmas season! While this is a joyous occasion for most, are you one of those dreading the stream of Christmas parties, office treats, and edible gifts? The amount of sugar can seem endless. Even for the most motivated it can be incredibly difficult to resist overindulging, if not for lack of willpower than simply due to pushy people who seem to take extreme offence when treats offered are refused. What is with people sometimes? I’ve noticed this more frequently when clients tell me about weaknesses. Often times they feel out of control with their choices because of the people around them. How often have you seen people make a scene of someone choosing to avoid something simply because they don’t need the extra calories. Usually the first questions are things like “Are you allergic?” or “You don’t like the dessert I made?” It then proceeds to “Are you on a diet?” which then leads to an announcement to everyone that you are indeed on a diet, as that must be the case, and furthermore pointing out how skinny you already are, etc, etc. It can be downright rude at times. When the answer is “I just don’t need to eat that,” people don’t know how to respond. Some might wonder why you are even there, given the point of most occasions is to join together and engage in gluttony.

How to handle these tricky situations? First of all, be confident and be upfront. No one is going to take responsibility for your diet choices except you. Own your decision and don’t be ashamed. DO NOT feel compelled to eat anything you do not want to, especially around the holidays. Of course be tactful and polite, but politeness does not mean giving in to the food pushers.

Other ideas? Make sure to bring a healthy option to share so that there is something you can enjoy. Fill your plate with it. Also, if you do take something that ends up not tasting as good as you would like, or you are simply full and there is still food on your plate, it’s ok to throw it out. Believe me, I am not a fan of wasting food and I do everything I can to avoid it, but in the case of foods that aren’t even healthy to begin with, it’s ok to let it go. Dis-enroll from the clean plate club.

Lastly, make it a point to socialize, thereby over-riding the idea that food is the main point of the party. Show others that gatherings don’t have to be all about food. You can still have a good time without packing on the pounds.

Now, what if YOU are the food pusher? First, congratulate yourself for realizing you have this habit. Then, start respecting people’s food choices. Never force or shame someone into eating something. It’s not good for their health and frankly it makes you stressful to be around. Focus on enjoying time with others and letting them (and yourself) feel free to make the decisions food-wise that are best for them. Everyone will have a better time as a result.

Instead of dreading the holiday get-togethers, look forward to them! Eat healthfully, surround yourself with fun and laughter, and celebrate this season in the way that brings you the most meaning. Merry Christmas!

Danielle VenHuizen

Registered Dietitian, Certified LEAP Therapist