By Laura Del Guerra, RD, CDE, Take Control Health Coach
We just celebrated Thanksgiving, and for me that signals the start of what I refer to as “The Season of Eating.” From Thanksgiving clear through Easter there is at least one big eating opportunity each month: Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, the Super Bowl, Valentines, St. Patrick’s Day, and Easter.
These events are potential landmines that can derail the most dedicated from following through on their healthy lifestyle. Having spent my career in the field of nutrition, I have had years of hearing the aftermath of how pre-planned goals and expectations often fall short of reality.
Many of us have an idea about what we will be doing on these holidays, where we will be, with whom, and the foods most likely to be served. Where people get stuck is when we just roll with the expectation that the day will unwind as it always has, and we are powerless to change anything. Then disappointment hits because our expectation was that we would have somehow handled the day differently.
Here are some tips for managing your expectations during the Season of Eating:
- When setting a plan for the day (or weekend) think about how you handle the big dinner. Knowing how you typically handle the day and then making a goal based on modifying your typical holiday behavior will help you achieve the goal. Some people are most successful at handling the holiday season by doing just this type of thing.
- Some of my family’s best holiday celebrations have taken us off the beaten path food-wise, exercise-wise or both. We changed to a fresh turkey years ago (a huge improvement), homemade cranberries, and often times, an after dinner game of lightning. I’m always game to try something new with the knowledge that it’s going to be great: either a great success or a great disaster! But either way, a fun family story may come from it.
- When reflecting on how you navigated the event, don’t compare this celebration to every other day of the year; compare it to last year’s celebration. What did you do last year in terms of your lifestyle, and in what ways is this year different? Chances are you’ll see plenty of differences. Maybe you re-worked your favorite holiday dish so it contains less calories or fat (but still tastes great), or maybe you had a slice of pie, but it was a smaller slice than usual. Did you sign up for a Turkey Trot or some other fun physical activity? Did you show up for dinner with a different recipe that reflects your commitment to a healthier life?
- Your health coach is here to serve as your guide as you change your lifestyle. Your meetings this time of year should focus on your usual holiday patterns.
Let us know how it goes. Don’t let one mistake snowball. If you get off the rails, get back on the next day. We’re here to keep you going on your journey!