There’s a lot to be happy about during the holiday season, but losing all self-control to tempting holiday treats certainly isn’t one of them. According to a recent study that tracked the the weight of almost 3,000 subjects from the U.S., Germany, and Japan over a year-long period, not one of them was able to avoid gaining at least a little bit of weight from October to January.
While it would be pretty unrealistic to expect anyone to refrain completely from eating any foods that are high in fat and sugar this time of year, sometimes it can be really difficult to strike the right balance between staying healthy most of the time and indulging every so often. A lot of people tend to take it to one extreme or the other — depriving themselves of fun holiday events out of fear of losing control, or giving all in and letting themselves have anything they want whenever they want.
If you want to keep your sanity and your waistline happy, balance is key. And it doesn’t have to be difficult!
Meditate to Identify the Source of Temptation
Do you know whether your urge to eat is coming from your stomach or your mind? If not, meditation can help you identify where it’s coming from.
All you need to do is find a quiet place to sit down, close your eyes, and tune into the sensations of your body. Focus your awareness on the body part that feels like it’s trying to convince you that you need something sweet, fattening, crunchy, or whatever else. If it’s coming from your stomach, then that means you’re actually hungry — but if it’s coming from your mind (typically in the form of cravings), then that means your emotions are making you think that food would be a good way to cope.
Practice Restorative Yoga to Curb Cravings
So, let’s say that you discover through meditation that your desire to scarf down half a dozen Christmas cookies is coming from your mind and not your stomach. Hey, we’ve all been there!
Cravings arise from mental, emotional, or physical stress, so instead of trying to find a way to temporarily distract yourself from those cravings, a better idea would be to start implementing more stress-relieving activities into your practice to solve the root of the problem. Restorative yoga is perfect because it’s designed to slow down your pace and combat all forms of stress as you move through a minimal number of poses that you hold for a longer period of time, which helps soothe the nervous system and bring you back to a place of balance.
Plan to Treat Yourself
Everyone deserves to enjoy the flavorful feasts and decadent desserts of the holidays, and planning those big events that come with lots of tempting food around your regular healthy diet is really the secret to making it more of a flexible lifestyle than a strict rulebook you have to follow.
If you know that grandma is going to have an entire table of holiday baked goods this year, or that your workplace party is having the food catered from a really great caterer, don’t deprive yourself from it — plan for it! Eating sensibly throughout the week in preparation for a big holiday party on Saturday would be a typical example of how to treat yourself right. If you think you might lose yourself to temptation and go overboard, try to eat something healthy before you arrive or sip on water constantly while you’re there.
Practice Mindful Eating
Even when you’ve done all that you could to beat stress and plan ahead, temptation can still sometimes show up when you least expect it. When one chocolate truffle quickly turns into 10 or 12, that’s a sign that you’re allowing your thoughts and emotions to automatically take over your actions.
Mindful eating simply involves placing your attention on what you’re eating — including everything you see, smell, taste, and feel during the entire process of taking every bite and swallowing it. It’s the easiest and most effective way to stop overeating dead in its tracks, or neutralize it before it even begins! Here are some more detailed tips for how to practice mindful eating.
Don’t worry about being perfect. When it comes to maintaining balance, there really is no perfect combination of nutritious foods versus indulgent treats, so make it a priority to tune into your body regularly and do what feels right.