As the holidays approach, so does the nervousness over holiday parties. We think to ourselves, “I will NOT eat any junk food…I will only eat one bite…just this one dessert…oh, what the hell, it’s the holidays after all!” And then comes the pounds and the terrible guilt.
Holiday gatherings do not need to be a dreaded event where your only choices are being a social outcast or gorging on every food in sight.
There is a fear surrounding living a healthy lifestyle – having to eat small salads all day, never getting to eat your favorite vegan sweets, missing out on vegan birthday cake and being downright miserable and hungry ALL day, right?
If I had to do the above I would NOT enjoy life and would be moody and STARVING!
A Healthy Diet is NOT all-or-nothing
The more you vow to eliminate vegan treats (chocolate, cookies,vegan pizza, etc.) from your diet completely, the harder it will be to stick to and the more likely you are to fail.
Here are some Tips to Party Healthy:
1. Eat before hand. You heard right. Have something to eat before going out. Making sure you are not hungry when you arrive to a party makes it more likely that you will be able to avoid unhealthy snacks and treats because you won’t be starving, and you can fill up on something nutritious. After all, you are there to enjoy the company, not to use a party as an excuse to gorge.
2. Drink Sparkling Water. Limit your alcohol to 1 drink. Red wine is best due to the antioxidant health benefits, but all alcohol is unnecessary calories and many brands are not vegan. Bring your own Organic Vegan Wine to share so you have a sulfide, cruelty-free drink you can enjoy and share! If you don’t want to draw attention to yourself, remember, a sparkling water with a wedge of lime looks like a vodka tonic, or bring your favorite mocktail recipe to share!
Try Blueberry/Rosemary, Raspberry/Lime, or Cranberry/Pomegranate.
3. Bring a healthy dish to pass. Never show up empty handed 🙂 Bring along your favorite vegan dish to pass, some fresh fruit or a healthy dessert alternative. This way you have a treat you can enjoy that won’t throw your health and fitness goals off track. Plus, no one needs to know your dish is vegan. If they ask, let them know, otherwise you will be surprised how many people find your dish delicious!
4. Exercise before you indulge and let your body put those treats to good use!
5. Cut down calories two days before to increase your calorie budget on the holiday. You can also cut down the day of by drinking a protein shake for breakfast/lunch, then indulge at dinner. Then, go straight back to regular habits the next day.
6. Drink water before, after and during your meal to stay full and remain hydrated.
7. Expect some water retention the next day. This is normal.
8. Remind yourself NOBODY gets lean in a day and NOBODY sabotages months of work in ONE dinner.
9. Say “No Thank You” to Cookies, Cake and Pie. Consider if dessert is worth it. If there is a fresh fruit option, or a small, bit sized vegan dessert, and you want to treat yourself, go ahead. You can always share a piece, but I say skip it entirely. Remember, it’s OK to say “No Thank You” to dessert. Still want a treat? After all, it IS a holiday party. Bring your own healthy vegan treat to share 🙂
10. Lead by Example. You may be confronted and questioned, (yes, even teased a little, brush it off) about your diet. Simply try to give your friends and family honest, and informative reasons for the choices you are making, without belittling or berating them about their own decisions. Share your personal experiences- what have you found most difficult or most inspirational/enjoyable, how has going vegan affected your health in a positive way? Is there a “can’t live without” recipe you just HAVE to email them?
Many will notice your positive physical changes if it has been a while since they have seen you and they may even want to know your “secret”. Share!
Addressing Holiday Binge Eating
1) Be mindful and know your triggers.
Many people don’t even know when they are ACTUALLY hungry or having a TRUE craving. Being mindful helps us actually feel hunger, actually feel when we are having a craving, then gives a tiny bit of time to formulate a plan to deal with it. Mindfulness takes practice honing in on your physical sensations of hunger and cravings throughout the day.
Know your triggers. If you are the type of person to stress-eat an entire jar of peanut butter in one sitting, don’t keep peanut butter in the house. If you eat the entire box of vegan cookies, don’t buy vegan cookies. Late night binges are often stress related so plan a time to do yoga, meditation, a long relaxing run or a planned treat that is accounted for in your calories. Finding a healthy, satisfying alternative will really help. It may be a homemade bar, cookie or healthy brownie. Ask youself, “What are my trigger times?” and then tomorrow, hone in on those times. Once you can tease out those sensations, you have a better chance of making a better choice.
2) Learn to be okay with moderation, and then use it to break the all-or-nothing dieting trap.
One reason we fail on diet after diet is because when we can’t be perfect, we give up – whether that’s in 2 hours, 2 days or 2 months.
So instead of trying to eat PERFECTLY because “it’s Monday,” deliberately include a few moderate vegan foods into your daily diet. Have a few planned preemptive cheats, aka. lesser vegan treats to take the edge off and help prevent you from getting the point of a total binge later on.
3) Intermittent Sampling (Practiced “Willpower”)
The idea is to be able to control your cravings and use a moderate approach to feel satisfied with less. Not eating an entire sleeve of cookies or 5 bars in a row takes practice. Intermittent Sampling is a PRACTICE in moderation. You have to practice NOT eating the whole thing. (**Please note: this relates to calorie dense, processed vegan foods. Whole plant foods are MUCH more difficult to over eat due to their naturally low calories and high fiber/water content.)
For example, get out a vegan bar and eat 1/3 of it, get the taste and put the rest back into the cabinet or into your purse. Then, go do something for AT LEAST 10 minutes. If you are still thinking about the bar, go back and eat another third. Then put it back. This time, wait AT LEAST 20 minutes and if you still want more, go back and finish it. Over time, more often than not, you will be able to take a third or a half and forget about the rest until later.
This is an example of tasting everything and binging on nothing, and if you want to eventually break the dieting cycle of being “on” or “off” your diet, you have to find ways to feel satisfied more often on less, and build your resiliency. You can do this with any processed food that you tend to overeat.
Finding healthy, whole foods you enjoy is ideal, but you CAN still have your favorite vegan treats, factor them in to your daily “calories” and still have a lean, healthy body.
Body transformation is not about the information; it’s about the implementation.
One piece of vegan candy does not make you fat just like one salad does not make you skinny.
So let’s begin: 1. Practice 2. Create small habits 3. Go enjoy your life!