I would not characterize myself as one of those people that lack focus, but this time of year even I find to be utterly distracting. Even now as I type, emails are popping up, advertising “50% off and free shipping” (today only!…thus multiplying the distraction). So I am here to offer you some helpful, healthy tips for staying focused during this frenzied holiday season. Think of this as a road map to staying healthy.
Tip #1: Eat Treats Out, Not at Home
As it is the most, wonderful time of the year, I know that it is tempting (very tempting) to stock up on all of your seasonal favorites. After all, if the food industry is enticing you with products like “s’more” flavored icing, then one must try it, right? Or possibly, your favorite chocolate comes out this time of year and you like to have some on hand. Standing in the store, it’s easy to grab it and put it in your cart. But here is the thing–once it’s in your house, it’s way harder to avoid–even if you truly believe you can. A better strategy might be to enjoy it the next time you are out to dinner or meeting a friend for coffee. This way you can plan for a one-time splurge and resist the temptation to take it home.
Tip #2: Stick to Your Routine
Speaking of dinners and coffee, this time of year also seems to be about getting away from your daily routine. As tempting as it is to add an extra errand or appointment to your already long day or skip the gym to get something checked off your “to do” list, why don’t you instead go home, eat a wholesome meal and get the rest you need? Making it to the gym is a no-brainer, as you probably have a few extra calories to burn and undoubtedly have stress to relieve.
Tip #3: Bring Healthy Dishes to Parties
If you have a holiday party to attend and are asked to bring a dish, think about bringing something “safe” (read: “healthy”) since other party goers may not be as conscientious about their contribution. How about an interesting salad (check out our Guiding Stars recipe section for some terrific ideas) or a simple vegetable platter with a three-Guiding Star, non-fat Greek yogurt based dip? (Blend yogurt with a packet of ranch seasonings for a very quick, easy, better-for-you dip.) Want to bring cheese? One of my favorite presentations is tomato-basil skewers complete with Cabot 50% Reduced fat Cheddar cheese. Easy to make, you simply slice the cheese into small cubes and skewer one onto a toothpick with fresh basil and a grape tomato. The result is a fresh, delicious bite that avoids the cracker (and therefore happens to be gluten free!)
Tip #4: Keep a Food Diary
One final thought: let’s consider all of the little food moments you aren’t planning for or aren’t even aware of during this most tempting holiday season. I’m talking about all of the little savory extras that are part of your day during this holiday season (like the chocolates that your co-worker has put on their desk that you reach out for and enjoy mid-day while passing by). It is this reason and many others that leads me to tell you that your best defense this time of year is a simple pen and paper to keep an accurate food diary. If you write down everything you eat, no matter how big or small, you will eat less and think twice about that next little nibble. Guaranteed.