THE BLOG

How to Eat Well and Feel Well for Thanksgiving and Christmas

Nov 21, 2013 | Updated Jan 25, 2014

A question I am often asked at this time of year is, "With the holidays just around the corner, how can I make healthy meals that are also delicious?"

Yes, the holiday season begins again in just a few short days, and with it comes the usual anxiety over packing on the pounds. Perhaps you've already resigned yourself to the fact that you will gain weight this winter and reverse all your hard-earned success. But what if I told you this year would be different, that you could keep those extra pounds at bay? The holidays won't bring diet disaster if you are equipped with the right tools and have a plan in place. The power is in your hands. All you have to do is choose not to be naughty this year.

To make this easier, I want to share with you some healthy and tasty menus that align with the goals of The Blood Sugar Solution program. These are excellent and delicious options even if you aren't following the plan.

Like these recipes? Find more to get you through the holidays in my new cookbook.

With all the parties and family gatherings, it's inevitable that temptations will arise this time of year. Your best bet to overcome them is to prepare yourself for these bumps in the road. Here are 10 tips to help you avoid the holiday pitfalls:

  1. Begin your day as any other day on the plan; do not skip meals to save calories or carbohydrates.
  2. Eat a protein-packed snack an hour before your holiday meal.
  3. Don't think of the holidays as an excuse to gorge on unhealthy food. Plan in advance to make sure there are options available that you can enjoy.
  4. Scan the spread before putting anything on your plate. Choose wisely!
  5. Set an intention for how you would like to feel after the meal and hold yourself accountable by sharing with a close friend or family member. Or write it in your journal.
  6. Start the meal with a soup, fresh vegetables, or a salad, and avoid any refined flour pastries or sweet appetizers to prevent the cycle of craving.
  7. Drink two glasses of water with lemon before the meal.
  8. Plan an activity to look forward to after the meal -- a group walk, visiting with other friends or family, a group game, or playing with younger family members. Or try offering to clean up and help your host!
  9. Eat Mindfully:

    • Take five deep breaths before your meal.• Sit next to someone you genuinely find interesting and engage in pleasant conversation.• Appreciate the colors and smells of your food.• Chew thoroughly and slowly.• Put your fork down between bites.• Breathe in through your nose while you eat.• Express gratitude with others before the meal. Later that evening, write about your gratitude in your journal.• Halfway through the meal, put fork down and pause. Take three deep breaths and assess your hunger on a scale of 1-10. Ask yourself how much more you need to eat in order to walk away feeling energized and comfortable. Hint: Usually, this is around "6" or "7."• Close your meal by saying something out loud about how delicious it was and how satisfied you are. Hearing yourself say this can help signal to you and others that you are finished.• Have a trusted friend or family help hold you accountable to your goals.• Begin and end the day by spending some time alone with your thoughts. Journaling is a great activity to help ground your intentions for the day. Use your journal to set goals, express your thoughts and feelings about how the day went, and track what you ate, how much you exercised and how your body felt.

  10. Most importantly, take time to enjoy healthy, wholesome meals with your friends and family and remember that you can heal your body and mind with each forkful of delicious food you enjoy.
I wish you the happiest and healthiest of holidays and look forward to hearing your Blood Sugar Solution holiday success story on Facebook or Twitter soon!

To your good health,
Mark Hyman, MD

Mark Hyman, MD is a practicing physician, founder of The UltraWellness Center, a six-time New York Times bestselling author, and an international leader in the field of Functional Medicine. You can follow him on Twitter, connect with him on LinkedIn, watch his videos on YouTube, become a fan on Facebook, and subscribe to his newsletter.

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