By Coral Arvon, PhD, Director of Behavioral Health and Wellness, Pritikin Longevity Center + Spa, Miami, Florida
Eat, drink, and be merry—that’s what we’re supposed to do over the holidays. And we’re usually awfully good (unfortunately) with the eating and drinking.
It’s the “merry” we struggle with. Instead of good cheer, we’re often worrying about everything from “to do” lists to expanding bellies, the result of all those holiday buffets.
Here are three key holiday worries and how to overcome them. Our guests at the Pritikin Longevity Center have used them to help keep mind, body, and waistline in tip-top shape all the way through January 1.
Worry # 1: “I’m going to gain a lot of weight over the holidays.”
What to do:
During the holidays, and throughout the year, practice mindful eating. In the hubbub of holiday shopping and other frenzied activity, it’s easy to fall into the habit of grabbing food and inhaling it while getting other things done.
Oh, what a mistake that is! Because we aren’t paying attention, the calories just flood in.
Never multitask when eating. Don’t eat in the car, in front of the computer, while cruising the shopping mall, or while reading. Always do your best, even at parties, to sit down while eating. Look at your food. Appreciate its colors and aromas. Savor each bite.
The results can be priceless. Mindful eating not only brings back pleasure, it brings back control. Because we’re aware of every single bite, and celebrating each one, we’re more aware of how much we’re eating, and we know when to stop. We feel good at stopping.
Both physically and emotionally, we’re satisfied.
Another weight-control tip that has worked really well over the years for our Pritikin alumni is sitting down to eat a healthy snack before they go to parties. Pritikin-perfect snacks that are both filling and low-calorie-dense include a baked potato topped with salsa, a sweet potato with a little Dijon mustard swirled in, or a nice big bowl of bean-rich soup like minestrone or black bean.
With hearty snacks like these, all you’ll be faced with when you arrive at the party is temptation, not hunger and temptation. When you arrive, enjoy other pleasures—good company, beautiful decorations, smiling children.
You’ll also enjoy how good you’ll feel about yourself. Today, this moment, you’ve made healthy choices. That’s something to be proud of all year round.
Now, go to the party and have fun!
Worry #2: “I’m going to say something I shouldn’t say at holiday events.”
What to do:
Cut back on the booze. We all know family tensions can escalate during the holidays, especially if we’re living in close quarters for several days and drinking too much.
To help keep your alcohol—and temper—in control at parties, sip your drink, don’t gulp. And after one glass of alcohol, drink glasses of sparkling water with lemon or lime. In fact, chum up with the bartender at the beginning of the party. Tell him, “As soon as you see me heading your way, please mix me up another club soda with lemon.” Tip him well.
Drinking less alcohol also means you’re less likely to overindulge on the wrong foods.
Worry #3: “I’m hosting a party, and I want to make sure everyone’s happy.”
What to do:
Let this worry go. The reality is, it’s simply not possible to please everyone. The most important thing about your event is not who’s displeased with the appetizers, or who’s perturbed over a fussy baby. For every one or two naysayers, there are many more who love your event, love you, and love your efforts to bring everyone together.
Relish that. Be present with the positive. Savor the laughter, the happy conversation, the fun, the music, the moments of love and friendship.
Let others chip in, too. Save tree decorating till everyone arrives. Welcome offers from Cousin George to help with taking drink orders and putting food on the table. Let Aunt Ida do the dishes. When you share the work, you not only lose the worry and the feeling that everything is left up to you, you get to enjoy the sharing, the smiles that surround you.
You’ll soon be smiling. There’s no better way to create happiness all around you.