It’s that time of year again. It becomes dark earlier, it is cold outside, and all we want to do is curl up next to the fire and snack on our favorite treats. We crave everything from sweets to salty and savory foods. Since it’s the holidays and we are generally wearing more layers of clothing, we tend to give into those cravings more than usual. Giving into some cravings over the holidays is perfectly fine and normal, but what happens when it gets out of control? The holidays come and go and all we are left with is wonderful memories, maybe a few cool gifts, and an extra ten pounds!
Here are a few tips to help you manage the holiday food cravings:
- Three balanced meals: Eat at least three balanced meals a day. Add in snacks when hungry. Try not to skip meals because you will only make yourself hungrier for the next meal causing you to most likely overeat. (Ex: if heading to a holiday party, have a small snack before you leave the house, so you are not starving by the time you get there)
- Slip-ups: Don’t beat yourself up if you slip and eat more cookies than you should have. Everyone overeats at times. Consider trying to live by the philosophy “everything in moderation.”
- Mood or situation: Accept food cravings as a normal part of living in a food-oriented society. Food is all around us. You sometimes cannot control the craving, but you can control your reaction. Try to understand yours cravings in relation to your mood or situation. (Ex: eating due to stress from holiday shopping- try to find other ways to deal with the stress or work on minimizing how much you consume)
- Healthful Choices: Think “management” instead of “control.” It is impossible to control every situation of you life. Take responsibility for making healthful choices in each eating circumstance and stop when satisfied. (Ex: bring something healthy to your next holiday party, so you know you have something to munch on if nothing else is available)
- Suggestions, not commands: Look at cravings as suggestions to eat and not as commands to overindulge. When you feel a craving, decide how you want to deal with it. You do not have to overeat. You may decide to wait a while and see if the craving passes.
- Substitutions: Believe that cravings will pass. Cravings are not hunger. They usually will go away if you distract yourself with other thoughts and activities.
- Exercise: Most people slack off around the holidays, but this is the time to crank up the exercise. Exercise provides the energy for those long hours of holiday shopping and it helps to alleviate stress, which can lead to fewer cravings.
Disarm your cravings with the 5 Ds:
- Delay- wait 10 minutes
- Distract- concentrate on something else
- Distance- do not keep temptation on hand; make yourself leave your environment to get the food
- Determine- think about how much you really want it
- Decide- know how much to eat; if you choose to eat something you crave, remember to enjoy it