Just like any other American Holiday, most of the celebrations for the fourth of July revolve around food. This could become a problem as many of us would like to eat healthy or continually work on becoming healthier, but the fear of sugar and fat binges can easily seep in. A question I get asked all the time is “What can I eat at a holiday gathering?” Or maybe even, “Can we really handle all this freedom?” I hope that the tips below help you this year to have a guilt free holiday.
We live in a culture who thrives with rules. Do this, not that… eat this, not that. We follow these “rules” with the assumption that weight loss and success will always follow. As I have talk about in previous posts, it shouldn’t have to be like that. We shouldn’t live with fear of food and most importantly we shouldn’t feel deprived because you can’t eat something. Now I’m not saying run around and eat anything and everything you set your eyes on.
We should have some food freedom and with that the ability to want to make healthy choices, even in the midst of a sugar laden buffet.
It shouldn’t be difficult, it shouldn’t consume you or make you have regrets. That is not the purpose of food. Food is meant to be enjoyed but most importantly, it is meant to nourish our bodies helping us to thrive. Rules aren’t going to make the difference, they aren’t going to make you slim and truthfully they aren’t going to make you eat healthy. Those things are all your choice and your choice comes from how you value food. What do you believe food does for your body? Do you believe that everything you put in your body is having an effect?
Eating well is more of a mind game than a list of rules. Enjoying yourself isn’t what will do the most damage. Fear of temptation, losing control, undoing progress, that is your real enemy. Building a life around real food and healthy habits allows the enjoyment to creep in pushing out the fear. These ten tips will help you make food value-based decisions in the face of decadence so you get everything you want out of your holiday and nothing you don’t.
1. Know your triggers:
Do you overeat when you are at family gatherings? Do you have a hard time getting past all of the food at the buffet line? Does alcohol make you lose control? We all have a different set of “triggers” that encourages us to make poor food choices. Recognize and acknowledge yours and plan ways to work around them. Knowing your triggers and developing a plan will help this be a guilt-free holiday.
2. Look before you eat
Scan your food options before starting to fill your plate. Knowing what is available and narrowing down what you really want to eat before you start slapping food on your plate that just sounds “okay”. If you put it on your plate, you are likely to eat it and thus consume a lot more than you normally would. Stick to what you really want, preferably the REAL food choices and don’t bother eating foods that don’t really stand out. Remember, you don’t need to try everything.
3. Eat the best stuff first:
Similar to tip 2, anticipation of tastiness tends to overshadow the actual experience of eating, which often causes us to eat quickly and overeat. Go ahead and eat the food you anticipated the most, first. This will eliminate the need to eat more than you need. You may even realize that you need less than you think to be satisfied.
4. Go splitsies:
Don’t feel like you have to eat everything you put on your plate. You can throw food away….GASP! Listen to your body and try the splitsies method. Cut it in half and share it with a friend or family member. Or just cut the piece in half and leave it, assuming someone else has the same idea. You may find that you can get satisfied on less than you initially thought.
5. Don’t forget your veggies
Veggies are one of the most nutritious things we can put into our bodies. Always make it a point to go out of your way to eat something fresh and green. You may just find that your body will thank you if you fill it with more lighter, nutritious foods all while still enjoying yourself.
6. Remember you can “have it later”
If you feel satisfied (not stuffed), you’ve had enough even if the dessert table is calling your name. Try distracting yourself by talking with family or friends or heading outside for a walk. You may find that in a few minutes you are feeling more full than you originally thought and thus don’t feel the need to head to the desserts. Just by changing the way you think about it, not deprivation or elimination like “I want it, but I shouldn’t” to something that is more controlled, “I can have it, but it isn’t that important” can be a huge tactic in controlling what you consume.
7. Resist the “what the heck” effect
Typical of any dieter or person who claims to want to get healthy, the “what the heck” effect is that when someone throws up their hands in frustration as they have already surpassed their diet “rules” and gives in to eating anything and everything. Of course, always with the assumption that they will get “back on track” after the Holiday weekend ends. The problem, while your brain can work like this, your body cannot and still has to metabolize and breakdown every morsel of food that enters your body. Binging really isn’t as rewarding as you may think, you don’t win and your body definitely suffers the consequences.
8. Walk it off
Being active through the holidays is actually a great way to enjoy them. There’s no need to head to the gym as just moving throughout the day rather than one set time during the day will have the greatest impact. Head out with family and friends for a walk or a nice bike ride. You could even pull out some canoes or kayaks and take a paddle. Make it fun and enjoyable and you will be surprised at how active you are.
9. Bring safe foods that you enjoy
Let’s be honest, we are a country accustomed to sugary, processed foods.These are usually easy things to prep as well as crowd favorites. I encourage you, bring a dish or two that you know are “safe” made from real, wholesome food that isn’t processed. It doesn’t mean it has to be bland or lack flavor. Real food can be incredibly tasty. Take a dish that may encourage others to start this real food journey as well. And if you know you are going to be tempted by desserts, take a safe one.
10. Be aware of your food values and goals
Even though you aren’t likely to wreck your nutritional goals in one meal or during one day. It is important to continually change your mindset to enjoy that of healthier, real food. Remember those food values, what do you believe about food? What is the food doing to your body? And thrive from that.
I do encourage you to really enjoy this holiday. Take a break from the rat race we live in and enjoy friends, family and all the other things that make life wonderful, including food.