Surviving Holidays and Special Events

Holiday Survival
Holiday Survival

Surviving Holidays and Special Events

Holidays and special events should be times of great joy, but dieters approach these occasions with fear and panic. Why? Because a celebration’s not a celebration without tons of high-calorie, tempting foods. Does this mean that you have to become anti-social to avoid temptation? Not if you plan a “survival” strategy beforehand and stick to it. This strategy should address actions before, during, and after the event.

Holidays and special events are usually non-stop cues for eating. Trays of nibbles are set out, alcohol is served in abundance, and meals are served that could feed an entire army battalion. Besides physical food cues, stress of preparation, the letdown after the event, and the depression triggered by sad memories, often prompt emotional eating.

Holiday Survival Tips

On the day of the event, there are several ways you can control your eating. These tips can reduce stress and associated eating cues before they happen.

✅  Eating a betterMD nutrition product or high-bulk foods, such as an apple, salad, or bowl of whole-grain cereal, can fill you up beforehand so you don’t overeat.

✅  As soon as you get to the function, look over the food and pick out a few “special” foods to eat and skip all the others.

✅  Eat slowly and savor every bite to maximize your enjoyment. By allowing yourself selected delicious foods, you can enjoy yourself without needing to pile on everything in sight.

✅  Just to be on the safe side, you might want to cut back your intake for a few days before and after so you can have a little extra at your celebration.

What you do on Thanksgiving is far less important than what you do before and after the party.

Mike Murdy, betterMD founder

If You Are Hosting an Event

Plan Ahead – If you’re doing the entertaining, the preliminary work can be especially taxing. With hectic schedules, there never seems to be enough time to plan, clean, shop, and cook. You can help yourself by practicing time management and getting help from others. To plan your time, sit down and write out daily schedules for the weeks before the event. Determine what you can reasonably do in that time frame and when you plan to do it.

Accept Help – Remember that you don’t have to do everything yourself. Get your spouse, children, and other relatives involved with the cleaning, shopping, and cooking. For example someone can go to the grocery store, while others clean assigned areas of the house, and your guests are probably happy to bring some of the food. If it’s in your budget, consider hiring help to clean, cater meals, and serve food.

Menu Planning – In planning the types of food to serve, why not choose healthier, low-calorie alternatives? You don’t necessarily have to give up traditional favorites if you modify recipes to cut down on sugar and excessive calories. For instance, turkey stuffing can be made with sauteed onions and celery in broth rather than butter. A simple way to cut calories in gelatin molds is to use sugar-free gelatin. Take a look at your recipes to see if you can eliminate or decrease some ingredients or substitute lower calorie alternatives. You can feel good about helping your friends and relatives eat healthier!

It’s also a great time to establish new traditional dishes. There are lots of low-calorie, gourmet cookbooks on the market. Look through some to see if any of the delicious dishes would fit into your entertainment.

Leftovers Can Be Challenging

Try these strategies to minimize “leftover hangover”

👍  Too often food goes into your mouth rather than the storage container, even if you’re already stuffed. Chewing sugarless gum or asking others to help in cleaning up can decrease your chances of nibbling on leftovers.

👍  You can prevent next-day, high-calorie consumption by giving take-home packages to your guests, taking food into work, or dividing leftovers into small-portion homemade TV dinners.

💯  Probably the best way to avoid the leftover problem is to not cook so much food in the first place. Everyone will be satisfied and less “bloated” afterwards if you cook only enough to serve your guests.

Holiday Goodies and Treats

What do you do if your friends and family traditionally give baked goods, gourmet food baskets, candy, or alcohol for gifts? Beforehand, tell everyone about your diet and ask them to forego food gifts. If you still get them, thank the person, but later give the food away to friends, neighbors, or co-workers. This way, you won’t hurt the giver’s feelings, and you’ll eliminate temptation.

The Reason for the Season

The final suggestion for handling holidays and special events is to return to the original intention of these occasions. They’re intended as social gatherings with friends and families, not food orgies. Start emphasizing the social interactions. Plan group activities that everyone will enjoy. If possible, include group walks or physical activities that are fun and burn calories! By enjoying the company of others, you can focus on fellowship instead of food.

Blessings and Well Wishes 🙏 from betterMD and the Murdy Family

Beating the Holiday Blues

sad woman
sad woman

Beating the Holiday Blues

In the real world, many people experience the holiday blues – feelings of sadness or loneliness. These feelings often stem from the stress and fatigue of trying to do too much during the holidays, or from setting unrealistic expectations. For many people, the inability to be with family can lead to the blues. Still others feel the loss of loved ones more acutely during the holidays, making even the most festive celebrations difficult.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to help beat the blues this holiday season:

☑️. Be realistic – Every holiday season doesn’t have to be your best ever. Keep expectations for the holiday season manageable. Don’t overestimate what you can and will do. Instead, pace yourself, organize your time, and make a list and prioritize your most important activities.

☑️. Practice moderation – Excesses can take their toll. Whether it’s food, drink, parties or spending, be conservative. Make your celebrations healthy by including low-calorie snack options and alcohol-free beverages. Get plenty of sleep and keep up your activity level. Set some specific limits to spending, and consider gifts of time or handmade presents.

☑️. Let go of the past – Don’t set yourself up for disappointment by thinking everything has to be just like the “good old days.” Life brings changes. Each holiday season is different and can be enjoyed in its own way. Look toward the future. As families change and grow, traditions may need to change as well.

☑️. Try something new – Experiment with new ways to enjoy the holidays. Create some new traditions. Go on a family vacation or volunteer your time to a favorite charity.

☑️. Seek out the people you love – Spend time with people who are supportive and who care about you. Reach out to make new friends if you are alone during the holidays. Contact someone with whom you have lost touch.

☑️. Do something for someone else – Getting involved and helping others can be a great way to lift your spirits. It’s also a good way to make new acquaintances. Try searching for volunteer opportunities in your area, there is no shortage of people in need.

☑️. Consider your health – Get plenty of sleep and schedule time for activity. Not only will increased activity help fend off extra pounds; it will make you feel more refreshed and less fatigued. Also, find personal time for yourself.

Remember the reason for the season... be kind to everyone, and be especially kind to yourself.

Mike Murdy, betterMD founder

☑️. Be realistic about others – People do not change just for the holidays. Set differences aside, and try to accept family members as they are. Leave old grievances or discussions about differences until a more appropriate time. It makes no sense to hope that somehow “this year will be different” only to feel resentful when it is not.

☑️. Reflect on the season – Take a few minutes every day to reflect on the joy of the season, and to be thankful for your family, your health and the blessings of your life.

☑️. Don’t ignore your feelings – If you suffer from the holiday blues, don’t avoid your negative feelings. Talk with someone you trust about what you are experiencing, and try to get another perspective on it.

When you’re feeling worse than blue…

Don’t ignore severe symptoms of depression, because it is the holidays. The “holiday blues” are relatively mild, time-limited and non disruptive vs. Depression, which has a significant impact on your ability to cope day to day.

Be aware that prolonged or severe sadness accompanied by feelings of worthlessness, loss of energy, diminished interest in activities, significant appetite and sleep changes or thoughts of suicide may signal a treatable problem that should be evaluated by a mental health professional. If you, or someone close to you is suffering from depression, seek help from a qualified mental health professional.