5 tips to help you stay on track with your thyroid diet during the holidays.
The holidays are a fun and exciting time, so I have some simple and practical tips to help you stick with your healthy eating plan, whether you’re eating gluten and dairy free, Paleo, AIP or any other diet.
It’s usually easier to eat healthy when we’re at home. But you might be wondering how you’re going to stick with your diet while you’re out at holiday parties and other gatherings. These tips will help you enjoy your time while you’re out, without feeling guilty if you indulge just a little.
Challenges Of Holiday Parties
There are a few challenges that come up this time of year especially if you’re following any type of restricted diet or just trying to eat healthier. A lot of the challenges I faced, and I’m sure many of you face, aren’t necessarily around what to eat, but more centered on the emotions surrounding food choices.
Tips to enjoy holiday parties
Holiday parties are about celebrating with friends, family and the connections and memories we’re going to make. When you look back in a couple months or years you won’t remember what you ate, but you’ll remember the memories you made. If you’re feeling stressed about going to a party or hosting a party, remember that food is a tool to connect us.
Tip 1 – Eat before you go to a party. Whether you know there’s going to be food you can eat there or not, I recommend eating a small meal before going. If you’re not as hungry, you’re less likely to overindulge on any sugary foods or be tempted to try something off your diet. You can spend more time socializing and less time worrying about what you can eat at the party.
Tip 2 – Bring a meal or dish to share. In addition to eating a small meal before you go, bring something to share. So if you do get hungry you have a backup – something you feel comfortable eating and that you can easily share with others. Depending on the type of party, you might want to bring gluten free muffins, a veggie/hummus tray or meatballs in marinara sauce which is easy and quick to make.
Think of this as an opportunity to share your favorite healthy recipe with others. Most people are going to be surprised how good your homemade meals or desserts taste.
Tip 3 – If you’re hosting a party delegate out the food. Offer to make the main course and maybe one or two side dishes. But then delegate the rest of the food, beverages, desserts and appetizers out to your friends and family.
Have each person bring their favorite holiday dish or have them stick to a theme (like Italian food or finger foods, etc). This can cut down on your stress and your food budget for the party quite a bit.
If you’re comfortable making a turkey or roast go for it! If you’re new to cooking, start with something more simple like baked chicken with seasonings, a casserole or gluten free spaghetti. Pick a food theme that you feel comfortable cooking around and then have others bring dishes to support that.
Tip 4 – Don’t fight the temptations, but do eat mindfully. If you spend all night fighting against yourself when you really want to have a treat, you’re not going to have much fun at the party. Allow yourself to choose 1 or 2 items that you really want and then eat mindfully to really be present and enjoy them. Place them on a napkin or plate. Visually seeing them is important so you’re aware of what you’re eating. If you just grab items off the table and eat them throughout the party it’s really hard to keep track of how much you had by the end of the night. Next, take a moment to release any judgement or feelings of guilt. You’re choosing to enjoy this treat. Chew thoroughly and eat it slowly so you really get to taste all the flavors of the treat.
And when it comes to alcohol, have a small glass if you choose to and then switch to putting water in the wine glass. Or just start with water in the wine glass and forgo the wine/alcohol altogether. This way it still feels festive and you don’t feel as left out.
Tip 5 – Have a sensible sugar craving backup. Even if you followed all of the tips, maybe you indulged just a little or maybe you made it all the way through the party, there might be a sugar craving waiting when you get home. Whether it’s from hunger at the end of the night or just seeing/smelling all of the other treats at the party, you’ll want to have something ready and waiting for you to look forward to when you get home. If you don’t need it, great! But if you do, you’ll be glad you have it.
A few healthy examples would be some strawberries with coconut whip cream, gluten free muffin or cupcake, homemade applesauce, paleo brownies (you can freeze them and just take out 1 or 2 to have waiting for you) or try some fresh berries with warm coconut butter drizzled on top.
You don’t always have to say no to sweets and sugar cravings, just have them in a more sensible way when you really want them.
Build a Positive Mindset
As you go through the holiday season, it’s important not to label foods as “good” or “bad” foods. If you’re constantly pointing out to yourself that I can’t eat this, or shouldn’t have that, it really puts a lot of negative energy and negative thoughts in your mind that will make it more difficult to stick with your diet. You’ll almost instinctively want to rebel and eat something that’s forbidden.
Instead, try changing your thoughts from “I can’t have this food or shouldn’t eat that” to “I don’t want this food because it doesn’t make me feel well or “that’s not the right food for me right now.” These positive thoughts put you back in control rather than allowing the diet to control you. And allows for you to have those foods down the road again if or when the time is right for you.