For those following a healthy eating plan, staying “on the wagon” can be a minefield, from the time Thanksgiving dinner hits the table through New Year’s Day. All that eating, drinking and merriment has a tendency to knock even the most committed of us off our game. But what if, this time, you stayed on the path straight through the holidays? Seriously – it can be done! Here are a few ideas team Be Well has cooked up to help avoid common seasonal pitfalls and keep your diet clean from now through New Year’s Day and beyond:
Laugh at sweets, instead of eating them
In this season of excess, keeping tabs on sugar intake isn’t always easy, and yes, for a lot of people all that vigilance is a bit of a downer. However, there’s an easy workaround for those who struggle with sugar: L-glutamine. It’s an excellent supplement that helps cut cravings for sweets and helps stabilize blood sugar – two things sugar-lovers need most. It’s also helpful for elevating mood, which comes in handy during the short, dark days of December.
Side-step drinkable sugar
Simply put, the less alcohol you drink the better – and no, wine is not the hall pass people make it out to be. Alcohol is hard on your body, impacting your blood sugar, brain function, coordination, and so on, no matter how closely you monitor your intake. And, if you eat a clean, plant-based diet that’s light on carbs, you’ll likely get tipsier more quickly, which can lead to considerable social embarrassment, not to mention hangovers. That said, if you’re planning to raise a glass despite the downsides, keep it to a minimum, alternate each glass with water, and follow these basic guidelines:
· Stick to lower-in-sugar dry red wine or tequila.
· Steer clear of sugar-drenched dessert wines.
· Take beer off the table and forget about sugary cocktails like Cosmos and Moscow Mules.
· Skip drinks involving juices or sweet mixers like tonic water, grenadine, simple syrup, etc.
· When it comes to spirits, drink it straight (and slowly!), or diluted with water or seltzer.
Make a contribution
Following a specific dietary plan through the holidays isn’t always easy but it’s also not fair to put the ‘what-do-you-have-that’s-on-my-diet’ onus on those kind enough to host you. If possible, ask the host if it you can contribute a healthy dish to to ensure you’ll have something that works for your eating program – and doesn’t make more work for the host. If bringing a dish isn’t feasible or gets the thumbs-down, then eat a full, healthy meal before heading to Cousin Larry’s for his annual all-carb, all-sugar buffet. When you’re already full, unhealthy buffet items will have considerably less appeal.
So, what’s for breakfast?
If you’ll be staying with relative, there are two ways to make your dietary plan more manageable away from home: either bring a few of your edible essentials along, or by treating your hosts to a meal out at a local eatery whose menu you’ve already checked out online. Either way, the idea is to remain committed and plan ahead like, for example, one of my patients who brings along cooked organic chicken in a cooler bag when visiting his factory-farmed meat loving family. Sure, the first time he did it there were a few jibes from his siblings, but now, nobody gives it a second thought anymore. For those over-nighting with friends or family, if they take you up on the dine-out offer, then keep yourself on track by ordering wisely:
– Pass on pasta, potatoes, and grains.
– Ditch bread and instead, do lettuce wraps instead and add avocados slices or guac to add healthy fats to the meal
– Order organic, pasture raised or grass fed animals.
– Double up on greens and veggies.
– Skip gravies, sauces and most condiments, which are often laced with flour and sugar.
– Trade sweet desserts for a cappuccino with organic whole milk or unsweetened almond milk, topped with cinnamon and whipped cream.
Papa, don’t preach
When you’re following a particular eating program and certain foods are off-limits for you, be prepared for friends and family to notice and make comments. Ignore the wisecracks or respond with a simple ‘doctor’s orders,’ – and resist the urge to preach to everyone within earshot about how your particular dietary path changed your life. Instead, let the results speak for themselves and let the curious come to you to ask about your ‘secrets.’ (Even then, use a light touch!)
Finally, remember to forgive and forget
Let’s face it – all of us will slip up from time to time, but it’s how you respond to the slip-up that counts. Minor bumps in the road are to be expected, so drive right on over them, veer around them and get back on the path as soon as you can.