It’s time to come clean: Raise your hand if you indulged a wee bit more on Halloween candy than you’d cared to admit. If your hand is sky high, no worries. Just like life, personal-sized candy bars happen. While in other instances of falling off of the eating-healthy wagon, you’d get the advice to move on and not let it derail your hard work thus far. That’s still a good route to take, but in the case of trick-or-treat snacking, it might not be as easy.
Why? Well, Halloween is essentially the kick off of good habits going bad. That itty bitty bag of your favorite sugary treat turns into pockets stuffed with tiny candies to snack on throughout the day. Before you know it, Halloween has come and gone, and your sugar cravings are at an all time high. In the summer, for example, you could more easily ditch the sweet stuff because it’s simply not around as much. But in November, when the start of the holiday season essentially means being surrounded by rich, indulgent, delicious treats, everywhere you go is now a danger zone.
If you can already feel the downward spiral toward needing healthy New Year’s resolutions to save you, it’s time to start a holiday game plan. You don’t have to get off track with your goals in November and December. Follow these essential steps to stay on your path.
Step 1: Come Down Off the Halloween High
- Detox your house: Still have Halloween candy lingering in your house? Get rid of it. It’s only tempting you to eat it, and your willpower doesn’t need to be tested when sugar is already taking control. Throw it away, bring it to work (but leave it in a different department so that you’re not tempted), or at the very least, keep it out of plain sight. Worried your kids will flip out if you toss their candy? Allow them to make an exchange for a toy, game, or piece of
clothing they’ve always wanted.
- Shake the sugar habit: The more sugar you eat, the more sugar you typically crave. Slow down on how much you take in, or try to cut refined sugar completely from your diet. When you brain starts holding you hostage in exchange for sugar, turn to fruit to help satisfy the craving. Read labels to make sure that the foods you’re eating aren’t hiding secret sugars. Common culprits are flavored yogurts, granola bars, and juices.
- Power up with protein: Protein is essential for building muscle, and it can also help to keep hunger in check. When your sugar cravings pique, try eating some protein in the way of almonds, cottage cheese, meat, or eggs. If you really need the sweet stuff, eat a flavored protein bar. However, use these sparingly as it’s better to take in your nutrients from whole, unprocessed foods.
- Rehydrate:Remember that sometimes your body misreads thirst as hunger. Drink plenty of water and green tea throughout the day to keep from dehydrating, while also flushing your body of the toxins you’ve been taking in with candy.
Step 2: Say ‘No’ in November
November is essentially just a small taste of what’s to come in December, so practice saying “no” this month when requests of your time and willpower are still limited. Why “no”? The events and errands of holiday season can easily overtake your life. Parties, pot lucks, gifts, and so on can lead you to feeling overtaxed. Before you know it, you’re stress eating, not sleeping enough, and feel as though there is no time to squeeze in your regular exercise. You don’t have to become a social hermit, but make sure you are making yourself the priority. Come January, you’ll be happy you did.
Step 3: Take December One Day at a Time
Instead of using an advent calendar to countdown the exciting days until to Christmas, try thinking about it as another day you stayed strong. There will be cookies, chocolate, and sweet stuff you never even imagined lurking everywhere you go. Instead of being overwhelmed by that thought, remember to approach each treat one at a time.
- Start an internal dialogue: Be mindful when tempted by snacks. You don’t have to eliminate all the holiday goodness from your life, but you should be present. First, ask yourself if it’s worth it. Is it just a chocolate piece in a red and green wrapper, or is your aunt’s famous cookies that she only makes once a year? Second, if it is worth it, enjoy and savor it, making the experience last as long as possible. Last, if you decided to pass, reward yourself with a non-food item, even if it’s just a pat on the back.
- Bring your own snacks: When you arm yourself with foods you know are good for you, then you won’t be as tempted by the ones that aren’t. This could be as simple as having snacks on hand when you’re co-workers can’t stop bringing in baked goods. Or it could mean bringing more than one healthy dish to a family holiday meal.
- Release the guilt: Some people may try to shame you for not letting loose during the season, but that’s often just them projecting how they feel onto you. Don’t let other people’s words or opinions about your healthy lifestyle peer pressure you into veering from your course.
What tips do you use to navigate the holiday season? Share with others in the comments!