Woman making healthy holiday dinner in a festive kitchen

How to have self-control with food around the holidays

There is so much to love about the holidays! From spending quality time with friends and family, continuing time-honored traditions, or creating new ones, it’s no wonder the holiday season is considered the most wonderful time of the year.

But despite all the reasons for cheer, the holidays can also cause stress and anxiety. Combine that stress with frequent celebrations full of enticing treats and you may feel like it’s impossible to keep your self-control in check as you continue making progress on your weight loss journey. 

Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do to maintain your self-control while still enjoying the holiday season.  

Eat balanced meals

The GOLO for Life plan is a simple way to create healthy, balanced meals. One of the reasons why balanced eating is so important is that it helps keep you feeling full until your next meal. 

If you aren’t eating enough food, skip certain food groups, or wait too long between eating, you may start to feel hungry before your next meal. This makes you more likely to be seduced by unhealthy food choices between meals.

Adding stress to that equation may also cause cravings for specific high calorie, nutrient-deficient foods that you would otherwise be able to avoid.

That’s why we emphasize creating meals based on your Smart Card. When you eat a properly portioned meal of healthy food, your day is less likely to be derailed by hunger, allowing you to make the most of your day.

Balanced eating is especially important on days when you have a special event or party on your calendar. Eating a healthy meal before your event means you’re less likely to show up feeling overly hungry and either overeat or fill up on unhealthy treats.

Not only does eating balanced meals help you stay on track with your weight loss journey, but if you do decide to have a treat at a holiday party, you can do so knowing you’ve eaten well throughout the day and will be able to get back on track for your next meal.

Prep your meals

Tupperware containers lined up on a counter with healthy food like broccoli, sweet potatoes, chicken, and tomatos.

A busy schedule is likely familiar to all of us, and yet, things tend to get even more hectic over the holidays. That's why it's important to prep your meals ahead of time.

By meal prepping with foods based on your Smart Card, you ensure that you eat healthy, balanced meals throughout the day. Plus, you will likely spend less time in your kitchen and more time crossing things off your to-do list.

Have a plan

Woman writing on a white board calendar with a black marker

You don't have to have every meal prepped ahead of time, but having a 'meal plan' for the day is helpful. Take some time either the night before or morning of to think about what you want to eat throughout the day, how you can easily make full meals, and when the best time is for you to eat.

With a solid plan, you can eat at appropriate times, avoid cravings, and you won’t be scrambling to find something to eat.  

It would also help to have a plan for when things don’t go as planned. If you need a quick meal in a short amount of time, there are several options you can go to that will allow you to stay on track with your healthy lifestyle.

Find ways to deal with stress other than food

Woman sitting cross-legged on a yoga mat in her living room while meditating.

It’s common to rely on food as a coping mechanism when you’re feeling stressed. If you feel like this is something you do, think about ways to help you deal with stress that doesn’t involve eating.

Some simple self-care ideas include:

  • Meditate
  • Read a book
  • Listen to your favorite music
  • Go for a walk
  • Have a cup of coffee or tea
  • Go to a spa or salon
  • Take a bath
  • Binge your favorite TV show
  • Take a nap
  • Do something crafty
  • Try a new hobby
  • Do yoga
  • Declutter a spot in your house

Note, if you find that you’re feeling stressed even after practicing self-care, it can help to give yourself a moment to pause and reflect on what is causing your issue and try to deal with it directly.

Take away temptations

The phrase ‘out of sight, out of mind’ is especially true when it comes to tempting treats. If you put unhealthy snacks in places that aren’t visible or avoid buying them altogether, then you’re in more likely to steer clear of them when you’re experiencing a craving.

If you have certain go-to foods you like to eat when you’re feeling stressed, find healthy alternatives and make sure they’re readily available. 

How to Practice Self-Control at Holiday Events

Woman bringing a plate of turkey and green beans to a festive table.

The fact that enticing food will be at holiday celebrations doesn’t mean you should decline your invitation. You can absolutely enjoy yourself without indulging in unhealthy foods, or, if you do decide to indulge, do so without feeling guilty.

Check out the food and be ‘Smart’ about how you fill your plate!

The first thing you should do at a holiday party is scope out the available food and do your best to fill your plate with a complete meal. This can include:

  • Veggies
  • Fruit
  • Salad
  • Lean protein with a sauce on the side

Basically, stick to the same foods listed on your Smart Card! If you can do this and drink water instead of sugary drinks, you’ll be in good shape!

Mix and mingle

One of the most fun things about a holiday party is socializing. When you mix and mingle, be sure to walk around and enjoy yourself.

If you want to be extra cautious, avoid hanging out by the dessert table.

Refuse food politely

If someone offers you something unhealthy you'd rather avoid, don't feel guilty about saying no.

A simple 'No thank you for now, maybe later' or 'I'm so full but thank you anyway,'" will work perfectly.

You can also decline food with a compliment, like, ‘No thank you, but the food looks delicious.’ There’s no need to justify your decisions to anyone else! Just be polite and do what makes you feel comfortable.

Keep moderation in mind

We constantly stress that GOLO is a lifestyle. It’s not a restrictive diet that puts every little treat off limits. If you’re at a holiday celebration, by all means, celebrate! Just be mindful of the quantity you eat and don't let a little indulgence turn into a week (or month) of bad habits.

Don’t put yourself on the naughty list!

If you can’t pass up your great aunt’s famous gingerbread cookies, then enjoy them! Whatever you choose to have, eat mindfully, savor it, and don’t feel guilty. After the festivities are offer, come up with a plan for how you can continue to make progress toward your weight loss goals.