The Holiday season is upon us! Get ready for parties, gifts, new clothes, family gatherings, and food, food, food! A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that, on average, Americans gain 1-5 lbs from Thanksgiving to New Year’s. Worse than the gained weight is the fact that they seldom take it off again. Each holiday season can bring with it the racking up of pound after pound, greatly raising risks for a variety of health problems from diabetes to heart disease and more.
As vegans we are no longer immune to the temptations of the season. A few years ago, vegan choices were rather slim (pun intended): vegan recipe blogs and cookbooks were rare, and as the lone vegan at the holiday table, we munched salad and felt left out of the Bacchanalian feasting. Fortunately, as veganism has grown and spread, we can now enjoy the same seasonal delicacies as our omnivore friends! But how can we balance this gustatory glee with the desire to protect our health and our weight?
Decide How You Want to Feel on January 2nd
In a moment of quiet, before the insanity begins, decide how you want to look and feel when everything is over and you are back at work. Do you want to feel heavy and tired, with your stomach straining against your waist band, groaning that old refrain, “Ugh, now I have to reign myself in and start that diet!”? Or do you want to feel light, energetic, slim, and excited for all the things you can devote your energy to other than depressing, time-consuming dieting?! The choice is yours.
Check Your Schedule
Make a list of all the parties you will be attending this year from family dinners to office parties and holiday school pageants. Each of those events will be a minefield of tasty but unhealthy morsels and calorie-laden beverages. Lay everything out in your schedule and create a health-preserving game plan. Decide ahead of time at which events you will indulge and at which you will sip soda water while munching crudités and hummus.
Your plan might be to eat only “one bite” but if you are not the type of person who has ever been able to eat just one, it won’t magically happen now either. I could personally never eat just one chip or one cookie. That first bite would open the floodgates of overeating. Know yourself and say NO to the first bite if necessary.
Keep Cooking (& Sweating)
Yes, the season can be very busy, but don’t sacrifice your healthy cooking and exercise routines! Think of some quick healthy meals you can whip up in a flash and keep them on hand. I make a large salad every morning and keep it undressed in the fridge. When salad is already made, salad gets eaten! Look for small intervals of time where you can squeeze in a workout. Don’t get stuck in that all-or-nothing thinking that dictates you must go to the gym and workout for an hour minimum. It is better to take a brisk twenty-minute around your neighborhood than to do nothing at all.
Savor The Other Delights of the Season
We generally put too much of the focus on food and drink when this season is about so much more! Enjoy inspirational music, dance and theater performances, long snowy walks with friends, sledding, ice skating and skiing, spiritual worship services, and volunteering opportunities galore! These are the “foods” that nourish our souls. When we focus on life’s non-food delights, the desire to stuff fudge in our face greatly diminishes.