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3-Step Approach to Navigating Holidays with Healthy Eating

Updated: Dec 18, 2023

Do you struggle to navigate healthful nutrition choices during holidays or special celebrations? Healthy eating doesn't have to be a significant challenge. Here's how.

3-Step Approach to Navigating Holidays and Celebrations

Holiday gatherings can be fun, but they can also bring the pressure of pleasing others by eating what everyone else is eating. You may be tempted to take the path of least resistance and give in to pressures to please your family and avoid conflict.

For example, you might know that wine triggers hot flushes but not want to rock the boat by being the only one who isn't drinking. Or, perhaps you might be trying to break old food restriction patterns and be worried about your mother's comments on the size of your portions.

Any of these resonate with you? The good news is you can be prepared for festive situations using this three-step approach:

Step 1: Focus on what you need and want

Rather than getting stuck on the problem, focus on the hopeful future and look at the best-case scenario. What do you prioritize and value and value? What would a good solution look like in these festive situations? For instance:

  • Focus on a balanced meal amidst it all like using the hand portion control method

  • What does the ideal family interaction look like and how can you steer the interaction this way?

  • How do you want to feel at the end of the meal? Does it move you closer to or further away from your goals?

Step 2: Identify what challenges might reasonably come up

During the festive events you're attending, could you potentially be faced with a lack of fresh veggie options? Will there be an abundance of foods you can't eat or have an aversoin to? Do you have a pushy friend or relative that may try to move you toward behaviours not aligned with your goals? Will you feel guilty for not eating enough? Look to identify the challenges, obstacles and issues that have a fairly high probability of occurring and then...

Step 3: For each challenge, identify a plan A and a plan B

For each of the potential challenges, plan two responses. Plan A is the first tactic. Plan B is the backup. Write each as an "if-then" scenario (i.e. If this happens, then I'll do this).

Plan A: "If Mom coaxes me to have second helpings, then I'll politely tell her 'that was so delicious, but I'm stuffed! If I'm hungry later on, I'll definitely have more. I'm good for now, thanks.' Or I'll ask her if I can take some home to enjoy later."

Plan B: "If she continues to pressure me, then I'll remove myself from the situation by helping out in the kitchen."

Once you've developed your if-then scenarios, you'll be much better prepared to navigate special situations where you have less control. You'll be better able to make nutritional choices that align with what you need and want for yourself.

You got this!

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